As the sweltering summer sun starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Albuquerque start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. 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 great idea, the truth is there are several 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 sometimes cause problems.
Here, the professionals at I-Deal HVAC 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 supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. 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 engineered 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 AC unit in the winter 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 creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant smell, but they can also pose 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 ensure 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 get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to crash for the winter months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered AC unit can cause numerous problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to make themselves a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can block airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, 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 AC—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your AC unit 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 efficiently. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, leading to increased 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 lack of correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit is free from blockages and is not covered to maintain maximum 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 air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure you don't see any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive approach that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.