As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Zelienople start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outside AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the truth is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.
Here, the experts at Knoechel Heating 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
Outdoor AC units are supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These systems are built with durable materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed 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 avoid covering 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 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. Additionally, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead provide 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
Humans aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered AC unit can cause several problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable nest can impair airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter wildlife, because an uncovered AC gives them 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 you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and permits the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is severely limited, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you run your air conditioning without noticing 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 correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 air conditioning unit than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to check 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 efficient heat exchange or airflow.
Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers 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 significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.