As the hot summer sunshine starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Newark start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outside air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a smart idea, in reality there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the experts at Luikart Heating & Cooling 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
Outside AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with durable materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is manufactured to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover your AC unit in the cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture 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 household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead ensure proper drainage and keep the area around the unit cleared 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 prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause several problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable nest can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade wildlife, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your air conditioning without realizing that the exterior unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit is free from obstructions and is not covered to maintain the best possible airflow.
5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner
The bottom line is, it's a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are several key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure optimal function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent effective heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting 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.