As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Manassas start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their exterior air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, in reality there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Air-Right Energy Design share five reasons why covering your air conditioning equipment doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.
1. Your AC Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow
Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These units are built with durable materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is designed to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your AC unit in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clear of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to crash for the wintry months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered AC unit can cause many problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can block airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and permits the unit to cool properly. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, causing greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your air conditioning without noticing that the outdoor unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the shortage of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit has no obstructions and is not covered to maintain maximum airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's lots more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure the best possible operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent effective heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.