As the hot summer sun starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Narvon start preparing their homes and yards for the winter. For many, that leads to the question of whether they ought to cover their outdoor AC for the winter.

While it may seem like a great idea, the fact is there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. In addition to not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can even cause problems.

Here, the specialists at Ameri-Tec share five reasons why covering your AC doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.

1. Snow won’t Hurt Your AC

Outside AC units are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These units are built with durable materials and hardware that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is designed to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.

2. Covering AC Systems can Encourage Mold

One of the reasons you should not cover your air conditioner in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because trapping moisture inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.

Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable aroma, but they can also create health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Additionally, the excess moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.

Rather than covering the unit, instead make sure the unit has proper drainage and keep the area around the unit cleared of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. A Covered Air Conditioner Can Attract Animals

You and your family aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also looking for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter home.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make nests inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require expensive repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable home can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps discourage wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your cooling system—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair in the spring.

4. A Winter Cover for AC Units Restricts Airflow

Another reason it’s better that you don’t cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is essential for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is constrained, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, causing additional energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you run your air conditioning without realizing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, leading to its failure or damage.  That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit is free from blockages and is not covered to maintain the best possible airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Offers More Benefits Than Covering Your Air Conditioner

The bottom line is, it’s a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioner than to cover your exterior AC unit.

There are a number of key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s a good idea to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, twigs and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn’t any dirt and dust buildup that would hinder effective heat exchange or airflow.

Regular air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit’s life span, decreases energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can greatly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.