As the hot summer heat starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Wisconsin Rapids start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. 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 good idea, the truth is there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the professionals at Rapids Sheet Metal Works Inc 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
Exterior AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These units are built with durable materials and components 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 crafted to protect the internal components 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 sealing moisture inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.
Mold and mildew not only have an unpleasant aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
Rather than 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
Human beings 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 crash for the winter months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter refuge.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause several problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable home can block airflow and ventilation, lowering 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 deter creatures, because an uncovered AC gives them less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your AC—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 not to cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and allows the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is reduced, 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 run your air conditioner without knowing that the outside 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, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is necessary to ensure the outdoor unit is always cleared of any 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 cooling system than to cover your exterior AC unit.
There are several key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure optimal operation 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, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent successful heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.