Outdoor A/C Unit: Covered or Uncovered for Fall/Winter?

There are key times during the year that you need to do maintenance on your heating and cooling system. Early spring for your air conditioner, and early in the fall for your furnace. Outside of that maintenance schedule, people wonder if their outside air conditioning unit may need to be covered once the weather turns cold. 

When You Should Cover Your A/C
There is a reason to cover your air conditioner after the summer, and it’s not just for the winter. Your unit is built to withstand the rain and snow, but it is not built to keep out leaves, seeds, and other outdoor debris. Therefore, you will want to cover your system during the fall only. When leaves or seeds get into your air conditioner, they can create a place where moisture collects, which then causes corrosion. It can even block up any moisture drainage your system has built in.

Only Cover the Top
If you do decide to cover your A/C, be aware that it should only come down the side about 6 inches. You don’t want to cover it completely, if you do, you are asking for trouble. A cover that completely covers your unit will trap moisture inside which then causes rust and corrosion.

Why You Shouldn’t Cover the Whole Unit
A cover that goes over the entire air conditioner can actually trap the moisture in, which can then create mold and pinhole leaks in the coil. It can also attract small rodents. During the fall and winter, animals want to get out of the cold. A cover around the outside unit is a perfect place for them to find warmth and build a nest.

Takeaway
Remember, your air conditioner is already built to protect against typical weather conditions. Therefore, a cover is not necessary. If you do decide to invest in a cover, be sure it only covers the top of the unit, similar to the photo below.

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