Summer is drawing to a close and the smell of Fall is already in the air. Now is the time to prepare for Winter and homeowners across the country are busy cleaning up their yards, putting away the barbeque and garden furniture, dragging out the pool and air conditioning unit covers. And as you watch your neighbors diligently battening down the hatches, you’re probably wondering “Should I cover my air conditioning unit as well?”
Well, the truth is, outside AC units are pretty robust and are built to withstand the elements. The effects of sun, wind, rain, and snow have all been taken into account during the design and construction of your unit, so it doesn’t really need any extra protection from them.
However, because of the way AC units work, they are vulnerable to windblown debris such as leaves, seeds, etc. If these get into your outside unit, they can collect moisture and cause corrosion. They can also block the drainage and air pipes in the unit. So if you live in an area with a lot of trees or other sources of windblown debris, covering your unit during the Fall is a good idea.
Once Fall is over and all the leaves are gone from the trees, you should uncover it again. Keep in mind that if you do cover your unit, only cover the top. The cover for a central air conditioning unit should only come down about six inches on the sides, otherwise, it’ll trap moisture inside, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid in the first place.
What about dirt getting in?
Dirt will only get into the unit while it is working and sucking in air, once it’s off, no problem.
Won’t winter ice and snow damage it?
No, the unit is designed to be outside in all weather conditions, it doesn’t need a blanket.
Won’t water get in when it rains?
Some moisture will inevitably get into your unit, and over time this can cause corrosion or if it freezes, damage to the coils. But if you cover the unit, you’ll actually trap moisture inside and create more through condensation, considerably speeding up the natural process of wear and tear. You also run the risk of mold growing in the unit, which could impact on your health as the spores are transported into your house when you turn the unit on.
What about mice and rats and stuff?
Rodents are just as keen to get out of the cold during Winter as we are. They’re looking for a safe, dry, relatively warm place to snuggle down in and if you cover your unit, that’s exactly what you’ll be providing them.
An uncovered unit will conduct cold and be quite inhospitable even on the inside. A covered unit, protected from the wind, rain, snow, on the other hand, provides an ideal wintering spot for our little furry friends. No cover you use will be rodent-proof. Even if you manage to seal it tight around your unit, they’re just going to chew through it.
To sum up, it’s a good idea to cover up your unit in the fall, especially in areas with a lot of vegetation to protect against leaves, etc. Otherwise, leave it alone. It’s an outside unit, it’s designed to be outside in all weather, and covering it could end up causing you more problems than it will solve. If you really want to do something nice for your air conditioning, clean the air filters! Or give us a call here at Chills Air Conditioning and we’ll do it instead of you along with any other maintenance work necessary.