November 5, 2019

Should I Cover My Air Conditioner in the Winter?


AC covered in snow


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 AC

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 Actually Hold Moisture

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.

Covers Attract Critters

Another reason we see homeowners using AC covers is to prevent animals from nesting in the unit. 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.

It is not recommended to cover your air conditioner during winter, but be cognizant if you have icicles forming above it and make sure to remove these if possible 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.

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 here) for $30 or less, just remember to only purchase the top covers, not the full unit covers. Make sure the measurements of the cover you are purchasing fit your air conditioner before purchasing. 32"x32" is the standard size AC cover and will fit most units.

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AC top cover

Conclusion

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).