Education Hub

Should I Cover My Air Conditioner in the Winter?

We often get a lot of questions from homeowners about whether they should or should not cover their AC during the late fall/winter months.

It makes sense to want to protect your AC when you are not using it during the winter months. After all, you probably made a significant investment in your AC. You want your AC to work properly and it seems like a good idea to do what you can to extend the life of your equipment.

So, should you cover your air conditioner in the winter?

There are a few things to consider so let’s talk about the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Covering your AC unit can protect it from falling leaves, tree droppings like seeds/sap and dirt/debris that flies around in the air during colder months. Some AC’s are installed in areas where there are lots of dense bushes and falling leaves. If you don’t get your AC cleaned out annually, this debris can cause problems when your unit starts up in the warmer months. Dirt is not your friend and can do damage to your AC running properly. (At A1, we strongly recommend an annual AC tune-up and thorough cleaning/wash-down to get ready for the summer season!)
  • Snow and freezing winter weather is not a problem for modern day AC’s. The outdoor condensers are tough and built in a very robust way – able to withstand extremely cold Canadian temperatures and blistering heat during our hot summers.
  • Covering your AC can prevent snow from getting into your AC which can have adverse affects depending on the patterns of the weather. Melting snow can affect the fan and coils inside your AC if you have up and down temperatures in the winter. If you experience a number of “warming and freezing cycles” throughout the winter, there is a chance that this can have an adverse affect on the innerworkings of the AC.
  • If you use salt during the winter, the location of your AC is also an important factor to consider. If your AC is located near your driveway area or sidewalk, a cover can prevent salt from getting into the unit – this can cause early corrosion and is generally bad news all around.
  • Animals are always looking for a safe place to winter – fully covering your AC will deter them from hiding inside your unit and hunkering down for the winter.

Cons:

  • Using a heavy plastic cover means moisture will have difficulty escaping. There is a chance that moisture from snow and melting ice can get trapped inside the AC system, which can lead to condensation, possible mold formation and rust. Your unit will age faster which will be frustrating.
  • If the cover is left on in the spring and your AC automatically turns on, a cover can literally suffocate the AC (no airflow) and cause it to overheat.

In Ontario, we have had historical patterns of some harsh winters – often with some warmer/thawing weeks in between the cold stretches of weather. If you lean toward the benefits of covering your AC to protect it from the elements, choosing a breathable cover is often a good idea to prevent moisture build-up. Some covers are made out of a breathable mesh or have large side vents for air circulation.

Using a thick, plastic tarpaulin is a quick fix – but it will not generally allow any air flow so this is something you need to consider.
We would also suggest that you read your AC manufacturer’s instruction booklet to determine if they have any specific instructions for the unit in the off-season.

Don’t be left guessing if your AC will turn on each spring!

To reach the utmost level of efficiency, however, you should be making sure your air conditioner is ready for the official launch into the cooling season. Our triple-certified A1 Technicians are here to help you keep your AC equipment in tip-top shape!

A precision AC tune-up will help you save money by reducing your energy bills, preventing costly breakdowns and will extend the life of your system.

When you are ready, please click here to schedule a Precision Tune-up for your AC system today!

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