Should you cover your AC unit in winter? Many people ask this question, while answers on the topic vary.
In El Cajon, CA, you won’t see heavy snow and ice that often. Even though you need to wrap up, winter temperatures stay well above freezing in this area.
Still, many residents wonder whether an AC cover during winter months benefits their unit’s longevity. At Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, El Cajon’s professional conditioning repair experts provide a detailed answer to your question. Our response could surprise you.
Read on to learn more.
Your AC Unit Can Handle a Little Snow
Even people who live in frigid regions with lots of snow rarely need to cover their air conditioners. In El Cajon, temperatures rarely dip below the 40s at night. In rare occurrences where we do get snow, your AC unit should handle it well.
Most modern air conditioners have excellent durability and easily withstand extreme temperatures. Your AC should perform well in extreme heat and cold. If it doesn’t, it needs a simple fix or internal repair. Besides, an air conditioner cover often does more harm than good during our mild winter months.
Covers in Winter Cause Mold
If you thought AC covers protected your unit, think again! An air conditioner cover absorbs moisture from rain or frost during the cold season. Since the covers create a dark environment, they prevent moisture from evaporating quickly. Plus, little sunlight reaches the area beneath the cover.
Darkness and moisture create the perfect environment for prolific mold growth. When you finally restart your AC unit during the warm season, that mold will circulate into your duct system. You and your family could breathe in this dangerous material, causing major allergy flare-ups and respiratory problems.
In El Cajon, CA, the temperatures remain relatively warm throughout the year. Even though winter nights get chilly, our winters remain mild. Local temperatures provide a conducive environment for mold growth.
Daytime temperatures climb into the 60s and 70s. AC covers keep heat trapped beneath them. Therefore, mold gains a strong foothold beneath an air conditioner cover.
Covers Cause Rust
Since AC covers retain moisture, they can also cause rust. Your AC unit has important components that contain metal materials. Combining constant moisture with metal creates oxidation or rust.
While most rust damage stays superficial, it can penetrate important parts. This eventually affects your air conditioner’s cycling and functions.
Small Animals Find Covers Inviting
In addition to mold and rust, covering an AC unit in winter invites small animals to stick around. During chilly nights or rainy weather, a diverse range of wildlife seeks warm shelter from the elements. Your AC cover provides excellent shelter.
Spiders, snakes, raccoons, and skunks will bed down around your unit. Some snakes and spiders have venomous bites. Meanwhile, raccoons can carry diseases like rabies, and skunks have an aggressive smell when threatened.
With an AC cover, you could host a variety of diverse wildlife right outside your house. Unless you want to turn your AC unit into a home for furry or scaly horrors, nix the AC cover.
Covers May Help During Autumn
Under certain circumstances, your AC cover proves useful. For example, during autumn, trees lose limbs and leaves constantly. Sometimes, this debris gets caught around your air conditioning unit, affecting its efficiency and function.
Many people manually clean their units to avoid restricted airflow or damaged parts. However, a cover helps eliminate the extra work. If you have lots of trees or shrubs surrounding your unit, then a cover will prove useful in protecting your unit.
If you use a cover at any point, check the manufacturer’s instructions or suggestions to see what works best for your air conditioner. Purchase a cover with a light, breathable material, as breathable fabrics won’t trap moisture around your unit. In addition, sheer fabrics allow some sunlight to filter through.
Find covers that only obscure the top part of your unit. While attractive full covers are tempting, they do more harm than good.
Covers only need to prevent debris from falling inside or collecting on top of the unit. Full covers provide a conducive habitat for mold, rust, and wildlife to roost. Most home improvement retailers carry appropriate covers.
What You Can Do to Maintain Your AC During Winter
If you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in winter, what can you do? Depending on the type of unit you have, you can take a few proactive measures to improve your unit’s function and longevity.
If you use window air conditioners, remove them during the months you don’t use them. This increases your home’s energy efficiency in winter, as warm air won’t escape through the drafty openings around the unit. You also protect your window units from avoidable damage.
In the rare case of an ice or snowstorm in El Cajon, CA, check for developing icicles above an outdoor unit. Remove them to prevent them from falling inside the unit. If you can’t remove them, find a strong piece of material to place over the opening.
Finally, schedule maintenance from a professional service provider once or twice a year. A fall appointment ensures your heating system works properly. You will also learn about your AC unit’s potential issues.
A spring appointment confirms that your AC unit can take the intense summer heat. The technician should also inform you of any issues with your HVAC system. You’ll have time to fix any heating issues over the summer months.
Set Up Your Maintenance Plan with Maximum Comfort
You learned why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in winter from our experts at Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning. Now, take advantage of our AC maintenance services to keep your unit in working order. We have affordable service memberships to make repairs, maintenance, and replacements more affordable for you.
Call us at (619) 403-2823 to learn more about what we offer in El Cajon, CA. You can also book your service to get our experts on the job.