Is An Air Conditioner Cover Necessary In The Fall And Winter?
Homeowners transition from cooling their homes to heating once the season changes and fall ushers in the winter season. As the cold season intensifies and snow may start to fall, all cooling units are shelved for a few months. It is an excellent time to maintain the system and even have it serviced.
One question that often comes up with HVAC maintenance concerns during winter and fall is whether there is a need to cover the unit or leave it open? There may not be a specific answer to this, considering that most modern units are structurally built to ensure they withstand the harshest weather conditions, even in winter. But does this apply to all outdoor ACs, or do some need a special covering for the season?
When Not to Cover the AC
If your AC is a modern system with improved design and protection, you need not worry about covering the outdoor AC since it will likely not get damaged. The outdoor unit is outfitted with durable material and finishes that withstand all weather conditions, including rain, snow, and heat from the sun.
The mechanics in the systems are designed to hold up under excess heat or cold. You do not have to worry about the snow damaging the AC in winter. The most important thing is to winterize the outdoor unit by ensuring no leaves get inside. Always check for evidence of branches, animal nests, and other items that may build up in the unit due to its position outdoors.
When to Cover the AC
There are some cases when covering the AC in fall and winter is mandatory. However, it matters to what extent you have to cover it up. The geographical location of your home and positioning of the outdoor unit could also determine whether the unit should be covered or not. For example, if you live in an area where there tend to be lots of leaves, acorns, or other tree debris, it is advisable to cover up the AC when fall arrives as these droppings gathering in your AC unit can cause corrosion and other damage. This can be tricky if you live in an area that stays warm well into fall or regions where the weather is unpredictable.
The idea is to protect the outdoor unit against the impact of the falling leaves and tree branches and the effect of the buildup of ice and snow. While most of these units have been made to withstand ice and snow buildup, when these elements are in excess, there is a possibility that they will damage the AC’s coils and easily render it useless.
Selecting the Right Covering for Your Outdoor AC Unit
Once you understand the need to have your AC unit covered because of your location and its installed position, the other thing you must contend with is picking the right cover. Not all materials are suitable for covering outdoor AC units in winter. You need a cover that will not promote the buildup of moisture. You can always create a DIY covering or find a large selection of covers online or at your local hardware store.
.Avoid using plastic or other covers whose materials will lead to restricted airflow. They tend to increase moisture buildup, causing rust, and may also lead to the destruction of internal components. You will also want to avoid water-tight covers as they tend to attract animals to set up a home in your AC. Only cover the unit if you are sure you will not use it during the fall and winter season.
Another alternative, use a top cover in place of a breathable cover. You can have a handyman help you erect a shade to block any debris from directly falling on the unit. Check the manufacturer’s guide on protective attachments for your unit.
Internally, you will want to protect your AC in fall and winter. If you use a window AC, remove the unit from the window when it gets cold and store it away to help prolong the unit’s life. Avoid plastic covers as they tend to trap moisture, leading to mold buildup. For wall-mounted ACs that are more complex to un-mount, consider using a breathable cover to minimize drafts and moisture accumulation.
If you are unsure about handling your particular air conditioner during the fall and winter months, seek professional advice from an HVAC technician. The right service provider will guide and assist you in selecting the best protective option for your AC.