As the hot summer sunshine starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Lodi start preparing their homes and yards for the the upcoming cold weather. 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 reality 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 even cause problems.
Here, the specialists at Tokay share five reasons why covering your air conditioning equipment 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 wintertime. These systems are built with sturdy 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 designed to protect the internal elements from moisture and debris.
2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold
One of the reasons you should avoid covering your AC unit 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 trapping moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.
As an alternative to covering the unit, instead ensure proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clean 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 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 creatures, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter home.
Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals dwelling in a covered AC unit can cause numerous problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable bed can obstruct airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the appliance and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.
Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter animals, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—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 you shouldn't cover your air conditioner in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Adequate airflow is crucial for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, causing increased 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, resulting in its failure or damage. That’s why it is essential 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 air conditioner than to cover your outside AC unit.
There are several key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and get rid of any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would prevent successful heat exchange or airflow.
Routine air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.