As the sweltering summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Naples start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outdoor air conditioner for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the fact is there are several 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 professionals at Speedy 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 designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These machines are built with solid 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 designed to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should not cover your air conditioner 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 allowing moisture to collect inside the unit generates 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 excess 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 cleared 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 prepare for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to live for the wintry months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an ideal winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered air conditioning unit can cause several problems. Mice 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 nest can block airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal droppings can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from the elements 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 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 crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is constrained, 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 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 appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit has no 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 much more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are a number of key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of 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 successful heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.