Here in Minnesota, it gets cold in the winter. Bone-chilling, jaw-quaking cold. Depending on the year, we can receive a few feet of snow and layers of ice in addition to the cold temperatures. It’s natural to want to cover up everything as winter approaches, but your outside air conditioner doesn’t need to be covered. It’s built to handle the cold and take on the elements without being tucked in. In fact, not only will covering your outside air conditioning unit not help, but it may also even cause damage!
1. Did you know that critters are always looking for a safe place to stay for the winter? When you cover your air conditioning unit you create the perfect spot for small animals to make their nests. They look for protection from the harsh wind and weather, and a cover of plastic or wood can make the perfect little den for mice, snakes, chipmunks and more. While they are little things, they can make a nasty mess in a space where debris can damage the a/c unit.
2. In addition to making a great spot for animals to make a nest, when you cover your air conditioner, you are trapping moisture inside. As the cover heats and cools naturally throughout the season, the enclosed space can trap abnormal dampness that can rust metal parts. These units have fins or grates to allow the air to circulate so moisture doesn’t get trapped.
3. There is another hidden danger to covering your air conditioner in winter. I’ve seen it time and time again. A homeowner has diligently covered their air conditioner with wood to keep it cozy and then they have forgotten to remove it in the spring. When the homeowner sets his HVAC system to air conditioning for the first time in the spring, the unit tries to work but it can’t. The resulting damage can be expensive to repair. The unit may now need service from a professional plus replacement parts to fix it. Parts that commonly break when the cover is left on include the fan motor and the compressor. A repair like this can cost close to having a new unit installed.
Instead of covering your air conditioning unit for winter with plastic or wood, the most important thing you can do to prepare the snowy season is to check the unit and surrounding area for leaves, pine needles, branches, animal nests and other debris. Then simply check it occasionally throughout the winter to ensure that nothing has piled up on top or inside of the unit that will block airflow.
Be sure to have your air conditioner inspected by a professional at least once per year. It could save you time and money in the long run.