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Should I Cover My Outdoor Air Conditioning in the Winter?

After keeping your home comfortable all summer long, it’s understandable if you want to thank your air conditioning by properly preparing it for a long, cold Minnesota winter. In general, protecting and maintaining your AC is a great way to keep it running for as many years as possible. This time of year, we have many customers asking if they should cover their air conditioning compressor, which is the outdoor unit. It’s actually not as simple of an answer as you may think.  In general, outdoor air conditioning units are built to withstand typical winter conditions. But if using material that promotes proper airflow, a cover can provide extra protection against debris and damage.

Let’s consider both sides. Risks of covering your air conditioning The first thing we should point out is that air conditioning systems are designed and tested to be exposed to all types of weather. That includes heat, cold, rain, and snow. So covering the unit isn’t required, nor is it going to provide that many benefits against these expected elements. In fact, depending on how you cover the AC, you could actually be doing more harm than good.  Even when not in use, air conditioning units need airflow so moisture can evaporate and be removed from the metal surface. If you tightly wrap your AC in a material that is non-breathable (such as plastic), you could trap moisture underneath. Here are a few risks you bring on by improperly covering your AC.

  • Corrosion to internal components
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Moisture freezing and damaging coils
  • Animals taking shelter underneath the cover and chewing wires

When and how to properly cover your AC There are times when it could be smart to have your air conditioning covered. The main purpose would be to protect against foreign objects that can get stuck inside or damage the exterior of the unit.  In the fall, a cover to prevent leaves, seeds, and other debris from dropping or getting blown into the unit, specifically the fins. These items can attract moisture or small animals that can cause damage to internal components.

In the winter, a cover can protect against the impact of hail or falling icicles from gutters. After heavy snowstorms, it’s also a good idea to brush off the top of the AC. If it makes you more comfortable to protect your AC, the best way to do it is with a cover just on the top of the compressor. Avoid covering the sides all the way to the ground, or you may end up trapping moisture. As mentioned before, avoid using plastic (including tarps). Instead, you might want to buy an air conditioning cover that is made with breathable material.

Heating and cooling experts in Buffalo, MN

Winterizing your AC is just one of many HVAC considerations for homeowners this time of year. If you have any questions or concerns about your heating system for the winter or making sure you’re cooling system is ready for next summer, call DeZiel Heating & AC. Our team is standing by to help. Dial (763) 200-5453 to schedule an appointment today.

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