It’s Spring and here at the Barton Boys we get a lot of accidental air conditioning turn ons while the unit is still covered. Every spring we get a call or two from customers who turned their unit on for a test run on a warm spring day forgetting to uncover it first. This unfortunately blocks the airflow to the outdoor unit causing pressure to rise quickly and burn out the compressor in a very short period of time. Over the years we have seen many, brand new $3000.00 + air conditioners having to be replaced because of this. With that said, one of the most common questions we receive is whether or not you should cover your air conditioner during the winter. Although there is no concrete answer, there are many pros and cons to think about when considering covering your air conditioner.
While you may think covering your AC may help it look better in the long run, there’s a major trade off to think about here. As mentioned, by covering your air conditioner in the winter, we see many homeowners ruin their brand new units by accidentally turning the a/c on without remembering to uncover it first. By doing this, the cover is blocking the airflow to the outdoor unit causing pressure to rise quickly and burn out the compressor quickly.
Another con is that covering your air conditioner can also create a perfect home for small animals, such as mice. As spring rolls around maintenance calls come in, and more often than not we find that a family of mice has taken up residence in an AC cover. They use it to get out of harsh weather, and can damage wiring and other key components in the unit. There are ways to prevent mice from living in your air conditioner; however, forgetting the cover will reduce the chance of this happening greatly.
Our last con is moisture. Living somewhere that gets rain or snow means water, and that means wet metal. Moisture from melted snow and ice can get trapped inside your cover, creating a perfect environment for rust to form. If you leave your AC unit uncovered, that moisture has a chance to evaporate, keeping your air conditioner dry.
While the cons seem to outweigh the pros in this situation, there are some upsides to covering your AC. In warm parts of the United States that use their air conditioners most of the year, you’re better off just forgetting a cover. However, in cold parts of the U.S., that get ice and snow, AC covers offer a line of protection between your air conditioner unit and falling ice and snow. Falling ice from your roof or overhang can damage the unit, costing you more money down the road when you go to use it in warm weather.
So what would we recommend, you ask?
Our first tip is when covering you’re a/c unit it is a good idea to turn off the power to the unit at the disconnect box located by the air conditioner. This helps to prevent and accidental turn on while the unit is still covered. Turning off the outdoor unit requires the homeowner to go outside in order to turn it back on where they will see the cover and possibly save them a repair that often exceeds $2000.00!
Another solution is to cover your AC with a piece of plywood that fits the top of your unit. This provides protection from falling snow or ice, along with allowing moisture to evaporate. There is also no material for mice to use as a cozy home for the winter.
This spring, make sure to call the professionals at Barton Boys. We’ll come out and make sure your AC unit is running smoothly and efficiently for summer. Give us a call at (509) 892-5300 or visit our website.