As the scorching summer heat starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Mount Pleasant 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 conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a good idea, in reality there are a number of 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 sometimes cause problems.
Here, the experts at Olde Towne Heating & Air 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
Exterior AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with durable materials and components 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 avoid covering your AC unit 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 spread.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad odor, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead ensure 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
You and your family aren’t the only ones who prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the winter months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rodents 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 obstruct airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade creatures, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—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 it's better that you don't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is essential for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your AC without knowing that the outdoor 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 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 outside AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder effective heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing 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.