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Should I Cover My AC Unit During the Winter?

AC cover

 

For Canadians, air conditioning is usually an afterthought by this time of year, unless you’ve escaped to a warmer destination. But in order for your unit to function properly next spring and summer, it needs to survive the harsh winter elements first, which brings up the question of whether or not it should be covered during the coldest months of the year. There are pros and cons to both sides, and we’ll explain each of them to help you make an informed decision this season!

 

Pros of covering your air conditioner:

 

  • Especially in cold climates, it’s not uncommon for heavy debris like ice, sticks, branches and other yard waste to blow into your air conditioning unit or fall from the roof during the winter. Most heavy-duty air conditioner covers can protect against the snow, rain and debris that can harm your unit.
  • Covering your air conditioner until you need to use it again can help to keep your coils a little cleaner, so it may run more efficiently when you turn it on again in the spring.
  • An air conditioner cover can help to prevent water from directly resting on your coils and freezing, which could potentially cause major damage.

 

Cons of covering your air conditioner

 

  • Covering your air conditioner during the winter could potentially trap moisture by creating a high-humidity environment when the sun beats down on it. Parts of your air conditioner like the wiring connections, circuit boards and electrical windings can be negatively affected by a moist environment.
  • The warm temperatures underneath your air conditioner’s cover can be a tempting spot for small animals to take shelter when it’s cold outside. Small animals can be a detriment to your unit by chewing the wiring harness for their bedding, which could potentially lead to an expensive fix come spring time.

 

Most experts agree that when all is said and done, air conditioners are built to withstand even the harsh conditions of a Canadian winter, and therefore don’t need to be covered. If you decide you are going to cover your unit, here are a few tips to make sure you’re doing it properly:

 

  • Clean the debris from the condensing coils
  • Consider leaving part of the coil exposed so air continues to circulate
  • Buy a cover made from a breathable material to prevent excessive moisture from building up due to humidity
  • Remember to take off the cover in the spring

 

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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Diana Thornton December 18, 2015, 11:17 pm

    Thank you. The article on Pros/Cons to covering your air cnditioner in the winter months was helpful in my dilemma…….should I cover or not. Thanks.

  • Roy F. Goodridge December 18, 2015, 7:37 pm

    It was recommended to me over a decade ago by heating / a.c. technicians that ground level A.C. units are never to be completley cover for the winter months. Putting a level / slightly sloped piece of ply or other weather proof material is sufficient to deflect the elements.

  • nancy McNeil December 18, 2015, 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the good advice. N.

  • Brenda Wood December 18, 2015, 10:25 am

    I was advised just to cover the top of the air conditioner so that it could breath. Is this correct?

  • Wayne Dixon December 17, 2015, 8:05 pm

    I presently rent a hot water tank from reliance. I would like a buy out or will purchase a replacement February 2016. I am a certified plumber an can purchase new at contractors pricing.
    Please review and reply.YAE5

  • Larry Miller December 17, 2015, 7:58 pm

    I never cover my a/c unit in the winter however in the spring I look for debris that may have fallen on the unit and I wash the coil to remove the dirt from the winter months.

  • jim Gill December 17, 2015, 7:04 pm

    Turn the A/C off from the power box so small animals don’t have an incentive to hide in there through the winter. One can save on the hydro bill because of a heating unit inside the condenser.

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