should i cover my ac unit in the winter

Should I Cover My AC Unit in the Winter?

During the summer, the AC is almost always running in most households. This is to ensure that it provides a cool respite for homeowners, especially on extremely hot days. When winter clocks in, the tables immediately shift. The AC is no longer the center of attention, as people now focus more on their heating.

However, one crucial question that homeowners looking to protect their AC units frequently ask is: Should I cover my AC unit in the winter? And the answer is: yes and no. 

Several factors will determine whether it’s wise to cover your AC unit during the winter.

Let’s explore these two answers so that you can know exactly whether your unit needs to be covered or not.

Why Should I Cover My Air Conditioner in the Winter?

What would necessitate the covering of the AC unit during winter – despite the unit being built to withstand significantly harsh weather conditions?

Well, there are a few factors. For instance, despite its sturdy structure, an outdoor AC unit is not completely immune to the fall and winter weather.

Generally, the AC units are designed to withstand harsh conditions. However, some materials like leaves, acorns, seeds, and various other debris can cause some damage to the unit.

These materials are in abundance during fall and might find their way inside your unit. If this happens, they can easily create a resting place for moisture, which in turn can bring about corrosion to the unit’s interior.

And that’s not all. This debris might also block the built-in moisture-drainage system of your unit, posing even more harm. This means that when rainwater or snow collects in your unit during the winter, it can’t drain properly and can cause corrosion. As well, if your AC unit is near trees or bushes, you might want to consider covering it.

Covering your unit during the fall and winter seasons might work well to ensure that it’s still ready for the hard task awaiting it next summer. 

One thing you should note, however, is that even if you decide to cover your unit, there is a right way to do it.

How to Cover Your AC Properly in the Winter

Assuming that you have decided to cover your AC unit, how should you go about it? Well, you can either decide to buy a cover specifically designed for that or custom make one yourself, if you have the know-how.

If you decide to purchase an air conditioner winter cover, there’s no issue as it’s made for that purpose. This means you just need to make the purchase and follow the instructions on how to cover the unit.

However, if you are making the cover yourself, there are some measures that you should consider. For instance, the cover should cover the top of the unit and only drop around 6 inches on the sides. This means that you are not covering the entire unit. Completely covering the unit might result in more damages than those you are trying to prevent.

Why You Should Not Cover Your AC Unit During Winter

Sometimes, leaving the AC uncovered during winter is better than covering it. 

The AC unit design is meant to withstand pretty harsh conditions. In some cases, people don’t see the need to cover the unit during winter, considering the manufacturers have already put in protective measures for such seasons.  

Other reasons why the AC unit should be left uncovered include:

1. Moisture Accumulation

The same reason why some people support covering the AC is the same reason why others advise against it. Moisture is a common scenario when the AC is covered, as well as when it is not.

For example, when you cover the entire AC unit, including the sides, it’s quite easy for moisture to accumulate inside the device. And, you know the consequences of having moisture on electrical components and metal. The results will be corrosion of some parts of the AC or the breakdown of some electrical components.

You don’t want to have such a situation when summertime comes.

2. Ice Build-up

The moisture that accumulates inside the device might sometimes freeze, forming ice inside the unit. This ice can cause some serious damage to the unit, especially if it is not dealt with in a timely manner.

Typically, when water turns to ice, it expands. As a result, it exerts pressure on the various components of the AC, some of which might not withstand the pressure.

If the AC is not covered, water and snow will evaporate or thaw with time, leaving the unit as clean as before. Also, the unit has a moisture-drainage system. Therefore, unless this gets blocked by debris, your AC is safe in the winter.

 3. Mold Growth

Covered and moist areas offer the ideal conditions for mold growth. If you cover your AC completely and moisture accumulates, you can be sure that mold will also start growing inside the unit.

The problem here is that you won’t even notice the mold growing. Even worse, the mold might find its way to the house, where it can potentially harm your family’s health.

4. Loss of Warranty

Some manufacturers have explicitly indicated that the AC unit shouldn’t be covered. If any damage to the unit results from covering it, many manufacturers will consider the warranty on the device as void.

5. Rodent Infestation

Covered areas are always a great hiding and breeding spot for rodents like mice and others. 

Key Takeaway

Depending on your location or where you’ve positioned your outdoor AC unit, you might be required to cover your AC to protect it. However, more facts tend to disapprove of the covering of the AC.

So, should you cover your air conditioner in the winter or not? The ball rests in your court.

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