I must have heard the question, “Should I cover my air conditioner for winter?” more times than text messages from a teenager’s phone.
Drawing from my personal experience and other technicians’ along the years I have formulated my opinion. The answer is NO. I am firm in my stance but it is an opinion. Unless you are willing to invest $100+ on a factory specific, special ordered cover than DO NOT COVER the air conditioner.
WHY? THE DETAILS AS TO WHY ARE AS FOLLOWS: RODENTS, MOISTURE DAMAGE AND USER ERROR
Rodents – Our past winter was record breaking frigid and we are not the only ones trying to remain comfortable from the cold. Nothing is more inviting to rodents, such as field mice, than a man made structure with a small heat source. When a customer uses bungees and a tarp to cover their air conditioner they create a safe haven from the wind and snow. The protected space also acts as a warming greenhouse that invites infestation. The main issue however is that the electricity that remains idle in your unit also produces a small amount of heat. The rodents will then setup shop, chew wiring for their nests and also destroy components from urine. Gross right, but more costly to repair than gross I assure you.
Moisture Damage – I posted this question to a group of HVAC professionals 5,400 strong. One of the best responses was “Why would I worry about protecting my OUTDOOR unit from the OUTDOORS?” That sums up a lot of it. Your outdoor air conditioner unit (condenser) is built to be outside. It is also 95% metal and likes to remain dry when it can. If the air conditioner is covered improperly moisture from snow and wind can infiltrate and slowly deteriorate vital components inside. Let it breathe should be the mantra. Sure it will get snowed on but then it will dry as well. If that moisture is never allowed to evaporate it will have slow to occur yet long term damaging effects to the unit.
User Error – I have unfortunately seen this more times than I would like to admit. Customers forget to remove their make shift air conditioner cover and turn on the air conditioning. We all have busy lives. It happens, but it can also mean catastrophic failure. That means a few thousand $$$ for a simple mistake. I hate being the guy to break that kind of news to someone. Let us all do ourselves a favor and NOT add one more thing to our list to remember.
Check out how to perform a simple maintenance on your Air Conditioner here - “Prepare your A/C for summer”
Breathe Easy and Stay Comfortable