As the summer comes to a close, it’s important to remember that there are still some simple maintenance tasks that need to be performed on your air conditioner. While you’re preparing your furnace for the cooler winter months, you should also take some time to consider how you will protect your air conditioner during the winter. Here’s what you really need to know about covering your air conditioner and why it may or may not be necessary.
Why Cover Your AC Unit?
Many people believe that you must cover your air conditioner in the winter to keep it safe from damage. In a perfect world, covering your air conditioner would keep out unwanted dust and debris, and ensure that your AC unit is ready to go when the weather warms up next year. The truth is that covering your AC unit may not accomplish what you expect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. The biggest threat to your air conditioner occurs during the fall when nearby trees are dropping leaves, twigs, nuts, needles, and pinecones. The top of your air conditioner has a grille that is meant to keep all of these objects out of your AC fan, but some of them may still find a way through, causing damage on their way down. If you live in an area with dense trees that may drop debris right on top of your AC, buying a cover may be pertinent.
Why Not Cover Your AC Unit?
On the other hand, there are many reasons that professionals will tell you to skip the cover altogether. First and foremost, your air conditioner is built to be out in the weather. Rain or snow will not damage it during the winter any more than it would during the summer. Your AC lines are already insulated and safe because that is an important part of keeping them cool during the summer, so you don’t have to worry. Also, full AC covers are typically made of a non-breathable material that covers the sides of your unit. During the fall and winter months, this causes moisture to build up inside the unit and have no way to escape. Over time, this trapped moisture can cause corrosion in your compressor, electrical components, and other areas. Once this process has begun, it can cause serious damage that will limit the life expectancy of your unit.
Another problem we see with units that stay covered is critters. Mice and other rodents seek out warm, enclosed environments to hide in during the winter. With your AC unit completely covered, you could be providing them a safe haven against the wind and snow. Once they build a nest inside your unit, you will have to call for pest control to remove them permanently. It is usually best to keep your unit open so that rodents won’t find refuge inside.
How to Cover Your Unit Properly
Now that we’ve discussed some of the pitfalls of covering your AC unit, it’s time to talk about how to properly protect it during the fall and winter months. If you feel that you do need a cover to prevent damage to your fan from falling debris, it is best to use a sturdy cover that is designed to only cover the uppermost portion of the unit. You want to leave the sides open to help vent any moisture. You don’t need an expensive cover to get the job done, either. A piece of plywood cut to fit the top of your unit is usually sufficient, or you can simply cover the top with a trash bag and tape it down on the sides. This process takes only a few minutes once you’ve switched your home from cooling to heating, and it can be taken off just as easily in the spring.
That’s really all there is to covering your Phoenix AC unit. Just remember that your unit is meant to handle the elements, and leaving it open is perfectly acceptable in most areas. If you do decide to cover it, make sure you don’t seal it up tightly, which could cause more harm than good. Keep it simple and you won’t have to worry about it during the spring. For more information about preparing your AC unit for the fall and winter, contact Day and Night Air today. We can help you put together a year-round maintenance plan to keep your entire HVAC system healthy. The simpler it is to maintain your system, the more life you will get out if it!