AC systems can be tricky to figure out if you’re a new AC user. Maintenance, diagnostics, efficiency optimization – all those things need some know-how. Should you cover your air conditioner in the winter, for example? This is a simple enough question to answer but even it has a few caveats.
Should I cover my window air conditioner in the winter?
Many people worry that the harsh conditions and low winter temperatures can damage their AC. Especially window models are often the cause of lots of anxiety. So, to quickly dispel these concerns – no, neither low temperatures nor strong winter winds can damage the outside unit of an air conditioner, whether it’s a window model or not.
So, if you’re wondering “Should I cover my AC unit in the winter?”, rest easy. Your AC’s outer body is built to withstand low temperatures and a bit of wind. And if it doesn’t, then the issue was a lack of seasonal maintenance.
Should I ever cover my AC?
Now that’s a different question. While low temperatures or chilly winds are not causes for concerns, there is one significant reason to sometimes cover your AC’s outer body – autumn leaves, seeds, and nuts.
Yes, we’re serious. Autumn winds can be quite strong and tend to blow leaves, nuts, and seeds into the air. And since your AC’s outer body has no physical protection against such objects, they can often build up inside of it. This can be a problem as such debris can cause the build-up of extra moisture in your AC which, in turn, can cause corrosion or freezes in the winter.
So, the solution is to cover your AC during the fall months, not in the winter. Especially if there are many trees nearby, there’ll be lots of leaves, nuts, and seeds flying through the air during the September-November months.
How to cover your AC?
Another important thing to know is how to cover your AC. Most people make the mistake of covering it from top to bottom. This is actually worse than not covering it at all as the cover itself will then trap moisture inside the AC.
Instead, you want to cover only the top of the AC and no more than ~6 inches down the sides. This will offer the AC enough protection against debris but will still allow for enough natural ventilation to prevent moisture build-up.
Another major reason against big covers is that they tend to attract rodents and even some birds. If you cover your AC with a big tarp and you have trees nearby, chances are that some pests will decide to winter inside your AC. And we shouldn’t need to tell you why that’s not ideal.
Instead, a smaller top-only cover will keep the autumn debris out but won’t make your AC too attractive for the urban wildlife.