Once summer is over and your air conditioner is taking its off-season vacation, many people wonder if they should be covering their AC until time to use it again in the spring.
The short answer – no. However, there is a better time of year to cover it and you need to make sure it is covered properly to avoid damaging the unit.
SNOW DOESN’T HURT YOUR A/C
Your air conditioner is built with a sturdy metal covering that is made to resist the elements, including snow, rain, and extreme heat. These units were made with the purpose to sit outside year-round.
COVERS HOLD MOISTURE AND CAUSE MOLD
You may think that putting an air conditioner cover on your unit will prevent moisture from invading the unit, but with humidity, condensation, and other natural elements, there is no way to prevent any moisture from entering your unit. With a cover on you will trap what moisture is in your unit and over time this will mold. This moisture can also cause rust in your air conditioner. If the parts inside the AC garner enough rust, then this will cause your air conditioner not to work properly and need replacement parts.
COVERS ATTRACT CRITTERS
Another reason we see homeowners using AC covers is to prevent animals from nesting in the unit. However, a cover will actually make a nice, warm retreat from the cold for mice and other small animals.
WHEN YOU SHOULD COVER YOUR AIR CONDITIONER
If you have a lot of trees near your unit then during the fall you should consider covering the unit to avoid leaves, berries, twigs and other fall debris from entering the unit. If debris does happen to get into your unit, then this should be found and cleared during annual maintenance service before it becomes an issue. This is part of the reason we recommend trying to get your AC serviced before you turn it on for the very first time the following year.
It is not necessary to cover your air conditioner during winter but be cognizant if you have icicles forming above it and make sure to remove these to avoid them falling into the unit. If they cannot be removed, a sturdy top cover or piece of wood may be used to prevent the icicles from damaging your unit if they fall. You can also still use mesh coverings during the winter if you’d like, but they will not help protect against potential falling ice.
HOW TO PROPERLY COVER YOUR AIR CONDITIONER
To cover your air conditioner, cover only the top of the unit. Some full-sized AC covers may look pretty, but they can damage the unit for some of the reasons already mentioned.
Buy an Air Conditioner Cover
You can make your own air conditioner cover, but it is often easier just to purchase one. You can find them on Amazon or at Home Depot (mesh cover pictured above) for $30 or less, just remember to only purchase the top covers, not the full unit covers. As mentioned, covering the full unit can lead to rust and mold. Make sure the measurements of the cover you are purchasing fit your air conditioner before purchasing. 32” x 32” is the standard size AC cover and will fit most units.
Covering your air conditioner, especially with a full-length cover, leads to issues of mold, rust, and other problems. Your unit is made to withstand the snow and a cover is not needed for protection. It is recommended to only cover your AC during the fall months. Be sure to have annual maintenance on your air conditioner each spring to ensure everything is still in working order before turning it on again for the cooling season. If you need air conditioner repair or maintenance in the Cincinnati, OH area you can call Quality Comfort Heating & Cooling at 513-620-HVAC (4822).