Covering Your Air Conditioner In The Winter— Is It Necessary?

AC Maintenance

It’s common for most households in the US to have some type of air conditioning. With about 84% of the population having some form of it, it’s safe to assume that to the majority of Americans, homes should be equipped with an air conditioner, and if not, they’ll probably be interested in an air conditioner install. It can also be assumed that most of these homeowners will take the necessary steps to get their homes and their HVAC systems winterized to ensure that their comfort and ease during the colder months are assured while at the same time, avoid getting handed huge energy bills in the process.

Perhaps one of the most common questions that air conditioning owners often wonder about is whether or not it is a good idea to just leave their AC exterior unit as it is in the colder seasons. Many often wonder if it would be a much better idea to get the top of these units covered to somehow protect it from the elements.

Worry no more. This article is aimed to help dispel whatever confusion you might have over how to better care for your AC unit in the winter. At the same time, we will discuss the updates and downsides of keeping your outdoor AC exposed to the harsh weather.

Is covering the AC unit in the winter really necessary?

Not really. This is because the engineers who designed these units are well aware of the rather harsh elements that these exterior units have to get exposed to and endure. As such, they are designed to withstand the unforgiving weather outside, no matter the time of the year. Thus, there is no need to have to go to such lengths to cover and protect them in the process.

In addition, if you happen to live someplace where the winters are generally milder you can trust that your AC unit is more likely to die from the usual wear and tear and good old age even long before the weather is ever going to have any effect on it or specifically, to its exterior unit.

Aside from the fact that it is unnecessary to have to cover your Ac unit, doing so might even cause problems as it can potentially interfere with the normal functioning of the device.

External air conditioning are designed to be exposed to the air

When you cover the unit, you are blocking the airflow. This can lead to mold growths along the evaporator coil. Not only will this lead to the reduced efficiency of your evaporator coil, it can also increase the potential of getting mold spores blown straight into your indoor space and that can be such a health hazard.

Covering the exterior AC increases humidity

Covering your exterior AC unit will only lead to moisture getting trapped inside the system. This can lead to rusting and corrosion in the long run. In addition, you’re increasing the risk of nit failure since the AC unit is made up of a variety of electrical wiring, wiring connections and potentially some circuit boards as well and moisture is bad news for these.

Pests will likely infest the AC cover

Stray cats, birds, rodents, and various other animals can easily get attracted to the AC cover and will likely use them as shelters during the winter months. Aside from the fact that this can pose a health risk, there is also the possibility of them chewing through the wires, taking apart the Freon lines or even using the unit as a nest.

Are there benefits to covering the AC unit?

While there does seem to be a tad bit of downside to covering the AC unit, there are certain upsides to the practice, especially when doing it in the winter. These are:

  • The cover may help keep your evaporator coils cleaner. This ensures that the coil gets to run more efficiently the next time you’ll turn the unit on.
  • Covering the AC unit prevents sand, dirt, dust, leaves, sticks, sands and other debris and other yard waste from getting into the unit. This means that adding a cover to the unit may be a good idea, especially for those instances when a sandstorm is expected.
  • AC covers prevent water from directly dripping into the coil and freezing, thus preventing any potential damage.
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