Should You Cover Your Air Conditioner in Winter?

Many homeowners cover their air conditioners in the off season to protect them from harsh weather, cold temperatures and falling leaves and debris. But is it really necessary?

All HVAC equipment that’s designed to be outside is well-equipped to handle anything Jack Frost can throw at it. It was made to stand up to treacherous weather, temperature extremes and piles of snow.

However, if you have a very old system, it might not be as tough as newer models.

None of the major air conditioner manufacturers specifically recommend that you cover your equipment in the winter. They also don’t recommend any conditions where covering is required. Still not convinced? Consider this: The manufacturers probably would include a cover if they thought it was necessary.

Unwelcome Guests

There are reasons not to cover your air conditioner (besides it being a waste of time). For starters, rodents and other pests might take a liking to that complementary cover!

You’re not the only one looking to keep warm this winter. Covered AC units can become home base for pests, which can lead to issues like chewed wiring and insulation (after all, those rodents need to make nests somehow).

There’s also the issue of mildew and mold in covers. This is especially prevalent in the spring, but you probably won’t realize it until you uncover your air conditioner in early summer. Your unit needs airflow — it’s what keeps mold and mildew at bay.

Technically, mold in your air conditioner won’t harm you like it can when it’s indoors, but it certainly can prevent airflow and minimize your ACs efficiency. Even then, covers do nothing to stop moisture from getting inside — and wasn’t that the point of covering in the first place?

Water can still get on the condenser coils, freeze, and ultimately damage them. There’s a small chance of this happening over time anyway, whether you cover or not.

Take Cover!

Sometimes covering may be a good idea. For example, if your region is prone to hailstones (and you know there’s a storm coming), you might want to cover your air conditioner. Or if a blizzard is expected, you may want to cover it up.

Still, you don’t need a fancy, expensive cover. A simple tarp with rope and even duct tape will do the trick — or you can find an affordable option online.

Your air conditioner is an investment, and it should be protected, but it will do a fine job (usually!) on its own. Call Sandy Heating & Air Conditioning today for any questions on air conditioner maintenance in the winter, or to schedule a routine inspection.