As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Front Royal start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their outside AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, the reality is there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the experts at Dave's Diversified Services share five reasons why covering your AC 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 wintertime. These systems are built with solid materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed to resist corrosion, and the housing is designed to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment 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 flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable smell, but they can also present health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has proper drainage and keep the area around the unit free of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.
3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals
People aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the wintry months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioning unit can cause several problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable nest can block airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your AC—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover blocks airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool properly. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your AC without realizing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any obstructions and is not covered to maintain optimal 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 air conditioner than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are several key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure maximum performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder effective heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.