Every autumn as the leaves drop and the cold temperatures roll in, homeowners start thinking about winterizing their homes and yards. Customers often ask us whether they should add an A/C cover to their outdoor unit during the winter to protect them from the elements. After all, it seems to be a simple DIY air conditioner maintenance step that anyone can tackle. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer to this question.
While covering your central air conditioner may keep it looking a little better in the long run, an A/C cover can create a perfect habitat for critters, such as mice. These freeloaders like to use your covered-up air conditioner as luxury living space to get out of the harsh winter conditions, and may make Swiss cheese out of the wiring and other components in the unit. Every spring, we arrive at several service calls for air conditioners not working to find exactly that. This can lead to expensive repairs that might not have happened if the unit was left uncovered.
On the other hand, we also have had to replace the top portion of the air conditioner due to ice and other debris falling on them from the roof, which may have been protected if covered. So what do we recommend? Well when temperatures get low and cause ice and several feet of snow can accumulate, it may be worth considering some sort of shelter.
In my opinion, it’s best to leave the A/C unit uncovered, maybe only covering the top of the unit to keep large debris out. In the spring, our company handles more repairs for units that were covered totally during the winter and caused corrosion due to high moisture level through the winter.