As the scorching summer heat 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 the upcoming cold weather. 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 good idea, in reality there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being necessary, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.

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

1. Snow won't Hurt Your AC

Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter season. These units are built with solid materials and components that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are constructed to resist corrosion, and the housing is manufactured to protect the internal components from moisture and debris.

2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold

One of the reasons you should not cover your AC unit in the winter is because doing so can trap moisture—which is the opposite of what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture inside the unit produces the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.

Mold and mildew not only have a bad smell, but they can also present health risks, especially for household residents with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, 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 Host Animals

People aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to crash for the cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is the perfect winter dwelling.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats commonly make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause many problems. Rats can chew through wires, insulation and other parts, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable bed can obstruct airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal excrement can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter wildlife, because an uncovered AC provides less shelter from cold weather than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—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 you shouldn't cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it facilitates heat exchange and enables the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is restricted, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, leading to greater energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you run your air conditioner without realizing that the outdoor 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, resulting in its failure or damage.  That’s why it is vital to ensure the outdoor unit has no obstructions and is not covered to maintain optimal airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner

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

There are several key maintenance tasks you should prioritize to ensure maximum performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to examine your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, sticks and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, check and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would prevent efficient heat exchange or airflow.

Scheduled air conditioning maintenance not only boosts efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, decreases energy consumption and avoids costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive strategy that can substantially benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.