As the scorching summer sunshine starts to fade and the refreshingly cool weather of fall starts to settle in, residents of Wyandotte start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outdoor air conditioner for the winter.

While it may seem like a great idea, in reality there are several reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being needed, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.

Here, the experts at Gee & Missler Heating & Air Conditioning share five reasons why covering your air conditioner doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.

1. Your AC Unit Isn’t Damaged by Snow

Outdoor AC units are built to withstand harsh weather conditions like snow in the winter. These units are built with solid materials and parts that can handle the outdoor elements without damage. The coils and fins of the unit are engineered to resist corrosion, and the housing is crafted to protect the internal parts from moisture and debris.

2. Covered AC Systems may Encourage Mold Growth

One of the reasons you should not cover your AC unit in the cold months is because doing so can trap moisture—which is definitely not what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because sealing moisture inside the unit generates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to spread.

Mold and mildew not only have an undesirable odor, but they can also pose health risks, especially for individuals with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, the trapped moisture can corrode the internal components of the AC unit.

Instead of covering the unit, instead provide proper drainage and keep the area around the unit free of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. Covered AC Systems Can Attract Animals

Humans aren’t the only ones who make plans for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the winter months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter refuge.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals living in a covered AC unit can cause numerous problems. Rodents can chew through wires, insulation and other connections, causing damage that may require pricey repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable home can impair airflow and ventilation, reducing the efficiency of the unit and potentially causing it to overheat. Moreover, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and potent odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter creatures, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from chilly temperatures than a covered unit. That’s better for your AC—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair when winter is over.

4. A Winter Cover for AC Units Restricts Airflow

Another reason you shouldn't cover your air conditioning equipment in the winter is because a cover limits airflow through the unit. Proper airflow is crucial for the AC system because it helps with heat exchange and allows the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is severely limited, the system has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, causing greater energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you run your AC without realizing that the outside unit is covered or because you simply forgot, it could result in a range of problems. One issue is that the absence of appropriate airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, causing its failure or damage.  That’s why it is crucial to ensure the outdoor unit has no barriers and is not covered to maintain the best possible airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Offers More Benefits Than Covering Your Air Conditioner

The bottom line is, it's a whole lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your air conditioning unit than to cover your outdoor AC unit.

There are a number of key maintenance activities you should prioritize to ensure the best possible performance and longevity of your AC unit. First, it’s wise to look at your outdoor AC unit regularly and clear any debris such as leaves, small branches and dirt to promote proper airflow. Second, examine and clean the coils, fins and filters to make sure there isn't any dirt and dust buildup that would impede effective heat exchange or airflow.

Regular air conditioning maintenance not only improves efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, reduces energy consumption and protects against costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, investing time and effort into routine air conditioning maintenance is a proactive plan of action that can significantly benefit your entire HVAC system in the long run.