As the sweltering summer sun starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Delray Beach start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outdoor AC for the winter.
While it may seem like a great idea, the truth is there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. Along with not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Kilbourne Heating & AC 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
Outside AC units are supposed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the wintertime. These systems are built with sturdy materials and hardware 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 shouldn’t cover your air conditioner in the wintertime 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 an undesirable odor, 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.
Instead of covering the unit, instead ensure 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 crash for the winter months. For many critters, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make winter dens inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to create a warm and comfortable home can block airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and bad 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 cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to throw away and things to repair in the spring.
4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow
Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is vital for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and permits the unit to cool properly. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing greater energy consumption and strain on the components.
In addition, if you use your AC 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, causing its failure or damage. That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit is free from 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 conditioner than to cover your outdoor AC unit.
There are numerous key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible function and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote 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 effective 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 prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.