As the sweltering summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Muskogee 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 outdoor air conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, the truth is there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Hix Air Conditioning Service, Inc. 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 supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with sturdy materials and components 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 designed 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 air conditioner in the cold months 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 produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also pose health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to 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
Human beings aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to crash for the cold months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered air conditioning unit can cause several problems. Rats 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 home can block airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to pick up and things to repair when winter is over.
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. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is restricted, 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 turn on your air conditioner without knowing 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 has no blockages 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 lots more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure the best possible function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would impede successful heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, committing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.