There are a lot of extra chores to prepare our homes for the upcoming colder weather in Minnesota. Homeowners typically cover their grills and patio furniture for the winter, but what about covering your AC (air conditioning) unit? I start to see a myriad of different covers this time of year and today I’m weighing on the issue. Before you decide what is best for your unit, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons.
Pros of Covering your Air Conditioner
Your AC unit is built to withstand the rain and snow, but it is not built to keep out leaves, seeds, or nuts. Blustery fall winds can mean extra debris in your unit. The organic build-up can easily accumulate in your condenser and hold moisture, leading to rust and corrosion of the parts. Debris can even block the moisture drainage system.
A cover can also help protect your condenser coils by keeping water from resting on the coils and freezing.
Cons of Covering your Air Conditioner
Manufacturers don’t generally require covering the unit to protect it from the elements. If you cover your unit up completely over the winter, you may actually trap moisture inside. This will likely cause rust and corrosion. Additionally, trapped moisture can actually freeze on the coils with our frigid winter temps, eventually causing damage.
Trapped moisture can also lead to mold growth and it may cause damage to the electrical wiring and circuit boards as well.
Full AC unit covers also have one more drawback—they provide rodents a warm, winter home. Mice or other critters may nest and chew up wires, wreaking havoc on your equipment.
Choosing the Right Cover
A cover is actually helpful, but only if it’s the right cover. The top of the unit is the part that is critical to protect, so that’s the only part that should be covered. I recommend something as simple as a sheet of plywood resting over the top of the unit. Bricks make great corner-weights to keep the plywood from shifting. There are many aesthetically appealing options available for purchase online; here is the breathable mesh cover shown below.
Protect Your Unit with Annual Maintenance
Whether or not you choose to cover your AC unit in the fall and winter is entirely your call. Either way I recommend you have it checked over annually by an HVAC technician. Regular maintenance helps keep both your heating and cooling equipment clean and efficient. It will likely extend the life of these systems as well!
If you’re in need of a home inspection in the greater Twin Cities area, our team would love to help! Scheduling online is easy at BranchInvestigations.com or call (612) 440-8466.