As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Milledgeville and Middle Georgia start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their exterior AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the reality is there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Air Concepts of Middle Georgia share five reasons why covering your air conditioner 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 built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These machines are built with sturdy 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 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 allowing moisture to collect inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable odor, but they can also create health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the unwanted moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Instead of covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has 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
You and your family aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioning unit can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive 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, decreasing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. In addition, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage wildlife, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to pick 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 AC unit in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and allows the unit to cool properly. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, causing increased energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your air conditioner 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 lack of correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is free from blockages and is not covered to maintain optimal 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 cooling system than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are several key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to check your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to maintain proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would hinder efficient 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 prevents 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.