As the hot summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Yukon start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. 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 smart idea, in reality there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the experts at Comfort Concepts Heating & Air Conditioning 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 winter. 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 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 shouldn’t cover your outdoor air conditioning equipment in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the excess 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 clean 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 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 critters, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair when winter is over.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing additional energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your air conditioning 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 correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit is free from barriers 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 outdoor AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure optimal operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to inspect 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 prevent effective heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.