As the hot summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Kankakee start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they should cover their exterior air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, in reality there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Home Furniture, Plumbing & Heating share five reasons why covering your air conditioner 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 designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These systems are built with solid materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are specially developed to resist corrosion, and the housing is crafted to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you shouldn’t cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable smell, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of 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
Humans 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 crash for the wintry months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered AC unit can cause several problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable bed can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—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 not to cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, leading to additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioning 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 lack of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any blockages and is not covered to maintain optimal airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's much more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure maximum performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, small branches 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 impede effective heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.