As the scorching summer sun starts to fade and the relief of fall starts to settle in, residents of Big Spring 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 exterior AC for the winter.

While it may seem like a smart idea, the fact is there are multiple reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can sometimes cause problems.

Here, the specialists at SKC AC LLC share five reasons why covering your air conditioner 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 designed to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These units are built with solid materials and hardware 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 parts from moisture and debris.

2. Covering Your Air Conditioner Can Cause Mold

One of the reasons you should not cover your air conditioner 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 creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.

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

Rather than covering the unit, instead provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit clear of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. Covered AC Systems Can Host Animals

Human beings aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also searching for a warm, cozy place to hide out for the cold months. For many animals, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter dwelling.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats often make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered air conditioner can cause several problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable place to get out of the cold weather can obstruct airflow and ventilation, lowering the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and foul odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps dissuade 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 throw away and things to repair in the spring.

4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow

Another reason you shouldn’t cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is essential for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and allows the unit to cool efficiently. When airflow is reduced, the system has to work harder to reach the desired temperature, resulting in greater energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you use your air conditioner 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 lack of correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage.  That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit has no obstructions and is not covered to maintain the best possible airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner

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

There are several key maintenance projects you should prioritize to ensure maximum operation and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s smart to inspect your outdoor AC unit regularly and remove any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to allow proper airflow. Second, inspect and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure they are free from dirt and dust buildup that would hinder efficient heat exchange or airflow.

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