As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Shamokin and Sunbury start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. 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 great idea, the reality is there are multiple 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 professionals at LTS Plumbing & Heating Inc. 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 machines 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 crafted 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 not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to flourish.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant odor, but they can also pose 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 cleared 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 critters, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause several problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, 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, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair once the snow melts.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason it's better that you don't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is essential for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and allows the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, resulting in greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your air conditioner without noticing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the shortage of proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is free from barriers 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 air conditioner than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are several key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and pull out any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to allow 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 successful heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only boosts 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.