As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Omaha 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 conditioning unit for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the fact is there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the experts at Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning share five reasons why covering your AC 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 wintertime. These units are built with durable materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are specially developed to resist corrosion, and the housing is designed 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 air conditioner in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have a bad aroma, but they can also present health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than covering the unit, instead provide 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
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 hide out 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 air conditioning unit can cause several problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable bed can block airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage animals, because an uncovered AC gives them 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 in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason not to cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool properly. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you turn on your AC without noticing 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 proper airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 a lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks 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, decreases 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.