HVAC units are expensive, which means you should always do whatever you can to protect your unit from damage. In terms of protecting an HVAC unit, one question we often get is whether or not you need to cover an outdoor HVAC unit during the winter. Covering your AC unit during the winter isn’t absolutely necessary, but it is also a good idea as long as you do it correctly. If you have a heat pump, you obviously won’t want to cover it since it will continue to run throughout the winter to heat your home. With that in mind, let’s now look at why you may want to cover your AC unit and how to do it correctly.
Reasons for Covering Your Outdoor AC Unit
In colder climates, covering your AC prevents snow and ice from leading to moisture accumulating inside the unit and potentially causing damage due to rust and corrosion. Even though outdoor HVAC units are designed to withstand the elements, you still don’t want moisture to accumulate inside the unit due to the risk of corrosion.
Snow and ice are obviously not such a big issue in Georgia and other warmer southern locations where you rarely, if ever, see even a small amount of snowfall. That being said, snow isn’t the only reason covering your AC unit is a good idea, as it will also help prevent leaves and debris from getting inside the unit.
Leaves and other organic matter can easily collect inside your AC unit during the fall and winter. This can lead to the unit’s side clogged and prevent your AC from working properly next spring. If the sides of the unit are clogged, it won’t be able to disperse heat properly and can quickly overheat or lead to your AC freezing up.
You can avoid this issue by ensuring your AC is maintained every spring, as the technician will fully clean out the unit. However, the bigger problem is that all those leaves and debris will retain lots of water. This can lead to moisture accumulating in parts of the system and thus creating a risk of corrosion and damage. Moisture accumulation can also lead to mold and mildew growing inside the unit. The easiest way to avoid these issues is to clean out your AC unit once you turn it off in the fall and then cover it.
The Correct Way to Cover Your HVAC Unit
If you do decide to cover your HVAC unit, it is essential that you do it correctly. If not, you will end up creating more problems than you would if you just left the unit uncovered all winter.
The only part of an HVAC unit that should ever be covered is the very top. If you were to cover the entire unit completely, there would be no way for any moisture inside the unit to escape, and it would start to corrode much more quickly than if left uncovered. The only exception to this rule is if you purchase a specially designed AC cover, as these are made out of breathable materials so that air can still flow through and moisture won’t build up inside.
If you don’t want to spend the money on an AC cover, you also have a few other cheaper options. The first is to drape a tarp or sheet of durable plastic over the top of the unit. If you choose this method, ensure that you secure the covering well so it can’t blow off. You also want to make sure that the cover extends at most six to eight inches down the sides of the unit so that air can still flow through the unit and prevent moisture accumulation.
The other option is to simply take a piece of plywood and lay it over the top of your AC. If you choose this option, you should consider that you weigh the cover down with a cinderblock or some other heavy item. If not, a strong gust of wind could easily lift the cover off and cause it to come crashing down on the unit. This could have the potential to damage the copper refrigerant lines that lead from the unit into your home. If this were to happen, you would then need to have the lines replaced, and your AC recharged with refrigerant before it would be able to work again.
At Controlled Climate Services, our team can answer any questions you might have about covering your AC unit. We can also assist with any air conditioning repair, maintenance, or installation needs. We also work on furnaces, heat pumps, ductless HVAC units, indoor air quality equipment, ventilation, and refrigeration systems, and our team is available 24/7 for any emergencies. Give us a call today to learn what makes us the best HVAC service in Kennesaw.