Central air conditioner covers for outside units to protect your HVAC system!
When air conditioners have become necessary, the argument of whether to cover the outside units doesn’t end.
On one side, people argue that air conditioners are built to survive all weather conditions and don’t need extra protection. Also, they claim that covering the unit does more harm than good.
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On the other side, people apply extra precautions with a feeling in mind “just in case” and focus on maintaining the system’s efficiency.
However, with the changes in the weather, you should consider both sides of the argument before making a decision.
As a homeowner, you must take all necessary steps and precautions to protect your system.
Therefore, the best option is to consider covering your AC unit during the colder months only.
Also, if you still have some doubts, this blog will help you sort them out!
Read to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of covering your AC unit, and whatever you decide, we got your back!
So, let’s dig in!
What is an air conditioner cover?
Air conditioner covers (1) are notable additions or protectants that are designed to shield your system from damage caused by:
- Dust and dirt
- Leaves and grass.
- Rodents and pests.
Different types of AC covers are available in the market, like plastic fabric, wooden shack or simple mesh fabric.
Here, we will help you decode and decide the best for you!
Does covering your Air Conditioning unit help?
Often, we are stuck in our minds about whether we should cover our AC units or keep them open.
But in a true sense, covering your AC unit during the colder months makes sense as you are not using it unless you live in a place where it is hot all around the year.
Many professionals believe that covering your AC isn’t required and is unnecessary as the unit can withstand extreme weather. However, keeping the units covered when not in use is better.
If you live in a location that experiences extreme weather conditions, like blizzards and hailstorms, it is sometimes better to cover your outdoor unit.
Covering your outdoor unit in such weather will save you from unnecessary air conditioner repairs & emergencies and extend its shell life.
The primary reason to cover the AC unit is to maintain its efficiency.
An efficient AC system means your energy bills are minimal, and you save a lot on maintenance and repairs.
What dangers does your air conditioner suffer?
Usually, there are three main dangers to your AC system:
- Rain and snow.
- Hail storm.
Rain and snow.
Freezing winter weather is the most significant cause of damage to your HVAC system.
The snow accumulating on top of the outside unit is still understandable.
However, what’s problematic is when the snow starts melting.
When the temperature rises, the snow melts, and the water might get inside your air conditioner.
The water seeping inside might corrode or cause rust in your AC system, depending on how old the system is.
The water might also refreeze into the system, weakening the condenser coils.
Sometimes, ice even forms near the air conditioner fins, making them out of place.
So, when you use your AC back in spring, it might not work as nicely as it used to.
Leaves, dust and another kind of debris
Leaves, dust and dirt might also be a reason for your inefficient air conditioner.
Tiny dust is average and acceptable and won’t cause much damage, but the problem starts when the debris and leaves build up.
The wet leaves and grass accumulating in the bottom of your HVAC system might start to decay and produce formic acid.
Accumulating this acid might corrode the copper tubing and cause tiny holes.
The tiny holes then become the reason for refrigerant leakage.
Freon leaks are pretty harmful, not just for your system but even for the environment.
Refrigerant blows out harmful chemicals that lead to ozone layer depletion and soil damage.
People who are exposed to such leakages might experience skin irritation and dryness.
Prolonged exposure might also cause respiratory issues like chronic bronchitis or pulmonary disease.
Additionally, refrigerant leaks can cause your compressor to overwork and damage other HVAC system components.
Hail and icicles
Outdoor air conditioning units are the last thing that comes to mind during hailstorms.
However, they are just as vulnerable and exposed to interior and exterior damage as your car and roof.
Most dents on the outer unit of your AC are harmless as they won’t affect its functioning; however, icicles and hail can dent the metal slats, thereby impairing the airflow.
Also, the hail entering your system might damage and affect the airflow.
The fans can get bent or cracked because of the large pieces of hail.
A crooked or bent fan might work for a while, but it will damage the other parts of the unit.
Since the fan is responsible for pulling the heat from your house, a damaged fan might not do the job correctly.
It will pressure your unit, and your AC has to work hard and longer to cool your house.
Severely damaged units might also shut down the whole unit.
Apart from that, falling hails, and icicles can also damage the condenser coil tubing, refrigerant tubing, thermostat wiring and ductwork.
How to adequately cover your AC units?
If you have decided to cover your AC unit at all costs during winter, it’s worth doing it right. If you are installing a new unit, you should think it through from the very beginning of the process.
Either you can purchase an air conditioner cover, or you can make one by yourself and save some money.
So, if you plan to go with the DIY route, ensure that the cover drops down the unit’s side only about 6 inches.
The reason is- You should not cover the entire system as it can cause severe problems like moisture getting trapped inside and causing rust or corrosion.
Therefore, cover it so that it has some space to release moisture.
What should you look for when purchasing an air conditioner cover?
When thinking of buying an AC cover, ensure that you are clear with your needs.
Ask yourself multiple questions like:
- Are you residing in harsh or mild winters?
- Is your unit located under trees or bushes?
- Is your area prone to hailstorms?
Such questions will help you choose what kind of AC cover you need.
In general, terms, go for covers that are water-resistant and breathable.
Because if you go for water-proof covers, the water that goes beneath the cover won’t evaporate.
The trapped water might then cause mild mildew, rust or even corrosion.
So go for a breathable cover, made of commercial-grade vinyl or high-quality polyester.
Also, if you’re considering covering the entire unit, go for mesh vents.
Carefully measure your outer AC unit so that you buy a cover that fits perfectly.
If you can’t find an excellent fitting cover for your AC, better buy a large size that has an elastic hem, drawcord, or buckle straps.
And if you’re comfortable going towards the expensive side, you can look for custom-made covers for a fantastic fit.
Factors to consider before selecting the best air conditioner covers for outdoor units
An air conditioner cover can help keep your system in good condition for the next season, but the cover is only good if it’s the right fit for your unit.
So, we have stated several factors that will help in making the right choice for you:
Central air conditioner covers for outside units factor #1: Breathable fabric
As we discussed earlier, the fabric of your air conditioner cover can significantly impact your system.
If the cover is made of plastic, it will suffocate your AC unit.
Therefore, buy covers made of porous and breathable fabric and allow easy airflow like mesh.
Mesh-like fabric will let your unit breathe and prevent moisture from accumulating.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units factor #2: Cover durability
You must choose a cover that you can use easily for a reasonable amount of time.
Go for tough and sturdy materials like PVC or woven polyester.
These materials can bear harsh weather conditions and are highly durable.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units factor #3: Easy to use
The next factor to look forward to is the ease of usage.
Go for covers that are easy to put on and stay intact in the unit.
For instance, padded handles are easy to put on and remove when not in use.
Apart from that, look for hems that keep the cover intact so it doesn’t blow away during strong winds.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units factor #4: Warranty
An AC cover should be durable and last longer, so you should purchase from those manufacturers or those products that give/have at least two years.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units factor #5: UV Protection
Your AC cover also bears the harsh UV rays of the sun and might fade or become brittle with time. So better choose natural colors that don’t fade much.
Where do you find and buy an ac cover?
If you’ve decided to cover your outdoor air conditioner units and now finding options to buy one, we are here to help you.
First, you’ve got a bunch of options to choose from, so you don’t just have to rely on factory-made covers.
Home improvement stores usually have a large variety of covers to select from.
You can also get them online from a friendly, reputable website.
Many AC manufacturers also sell these covers and various AC accessories with their products.
So you can get the best size directly from your AC manufacturers.
What are the risks involved in covering your AC units?
So, there is a constant tussle about whether we need to cover our air conditioners during fall and winter.
Though it is wise to cover your outer unit during extreme weather conditions, there are, however, some risks involved in doing that.
Here are some of the risks you should be aware of:
Central air conditioner covers for outside units risk #1: Cover can’t keep everything safe and out
Ice, rain, snow and some kinds of dirt and dust are the key reasons we want to cover our units.
But the newer and updated units are built to bear such weather conditions.
Also, you can’t just keep your unit 100% moisture and dirt free, so that it could be a waste of time.
However, if you have an older, outdated and less sophisticated unit, it’s wise to cover it.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units risk #2: A cover can prove more harmful than good
You cannot ensure that your unit will be completely moisture free with the cover.
So, if you cover your AC unit and the moisture seeps in, it would do more harm than good.
Moisture trapping inside the unit will cause mold growth.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units risk #3: Can be home to rats
You might think the cover would save your unit from rats, rodents or other pests.
But in most cases, the effect is the opposite.
During harsh winters, rodents want to stay out of the cold and seek shelter.
So, often these little animals think of your AC cover as a soft, warm house and squeeze into these small spaces.
However, it can lead to many problems like chewed electrical wires and damaged insulation of freon lines. Also, the mice pups can create a lot of litter inside the unit.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units risk #4: Risk of rust
Covering the entire unit can cause moisture to get trapped in the system by creating a high humidity environment.
It can lead to rust and corrosion.
Inside the moist environment resides the electrical wiring, connections and circuit boards.
And the problem is none of these items get along well with moisture.
What are the alternative solutions to a cover?
If there is a likely forecast of a hailstorm or a blizzard approaching and you haven’t got enough time to get an AC cover, place plywood on top of the unit.
Also, place a brick or a rock on top to keep it intact.
Plywoods are breathable enough to avoid mold and mildew growth inside the unit.
When the storm is over, brush off the excess water and snow and remove the plywood.
You can also carry out this process even if you have an AC cover.
Apart from that, you can also purchase an air conditioner skin.
The main idea behind these screens is to make your yard look aesthetically satisfying.
Though the screens don’t cover the unit’s top portions, it helps block the sides of your AC.
So, you benefit from the AC cover and the AC screen.
What is the cost saving of covering your air conditioner
When we talk about cost savings, it is pretty decent.
On average, you can save about $32.76 per month with the help of these covers.
With regular maintenance and tune-ups and keeping the system covered during the non-usage months, you can save about $1000 per year.
Plus, using the cover will improve the shell life of your system and save you additional thousand dollars.
Air conditioners are all about efficiency; if your system is efficient enough, you can save a lot of money.
Be it energy bills, yearly tune-ups or one-off repair or replacement; you do save on a lot of bucks.
So, on a concluding note, whether you choose to cover your AC during inclement months or the whole year, that little extra care pays you well.
HVAC services at RLD heating and cooling services
If you have any doubts or queries regarding the outdoor AC unit, don’t worry. We’ve got your back.
Call us at RLD heating and cooling services or schedule an online appointment.
Our HVAC experts and professionals will help you out in the best possible manner.
Here are some questions people ask about central air conditioner covers for outside units:
Central air conditioner covers for outside units FAQ #1: Should I put a cover on my outdoor AC unit?
Most manufacturers don’t recommend covering your outdoor ac unit.
The reason is that they bet the air conditioners that operate the whole year are designed to withstand the outside environment and weather conditions.
However, keep the outdoor units covered for peace of mind.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units FAQ #2: How do I cover my air conditioner from the outside?
To cover your AC’s outdoor unit, shield your HVAC unit from water and debris.
Cover it with a tarp that can bear strong winds.
Also, you can buy or use a specially designed cover or place a wooden or metal cage around the outdoor unit to protect it from debris or dust caused by strong winds.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units FAQ #3: How do you cover an outside AC unit for the winter?
Place the plywood on the top of the unit to protect it from snow and ice; also, make sure to weigh the plank down with a brick or a stone to keep it intact.
Install a wooden shelter and attach it to the building to cover the top of the unit.
Plant shrubs or small plantations around the unit to protect it from winds and snow.
Central air conditioner covers for outside units FAQ #4: Does covering your AC unit help?
The outdoor air conditioner cover reduces the risk of rusting your air conditioner and corroding the coils.
However, AC covers can trap moisture in your air conditioner unit, which often causes more harm than good.
So, we know that covering and not covering your central outdoor units has advantages and disadvantages.
Therefore, it’s totally upon you to decide which suits you better.
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