Does My Air Conditioning Unit Need a Cover in the Winter?

ac unit in winter without an air conditioner cover

Before winter, homeowners should assess their homes and determine the sections that require winterization. Winterization involves preparing for the cold weather, including cleaning your gutters, insulating the outdoor faucets, and arranging professional HVAC maintenance. Typically, during the process of preparing for winter, you also need to look at your air conditioning unit because you will need it for cooling during the warmer seasons. As of late, many property owners have asked us if they should purchase an air conditioner cover. We discuss this topic further in this article.

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Do You Need an Air Conditioner Cover in the Winter?

We suggest that you do not cover the outdoor cooling unit because it is an unnecessary step in the winterization process. The harsh winter weather does not make a difference because manufacturers designed air conditioning units to withstand extreme weather for long periods. For example, the condenser is coated with a long-lasting and durable finish, which makes it ideal for the outdoors. Therefore, it can tolerate sleet, rain, hail, snow, and other adverse weather. You do not have to worry about the coils and other internal components because they can also survive harsh weather. So you will never have to cover your air conditioning unit during the winter.

Related Article: The Benefits Of Using A Modulating Air Conditioner To Cool Your Home

Why Do Other Homeowners Cover their Air Conditioning Units?

image of a fan on air conditioner condenser that is rusty

Most manufacturers recommend that property owners not cover the air conditioners during the cold season. However, people still feel that they should cover the unit because of the following reasons:

  • Covering protects it from debris.
  • Some believe that covering the air conditioner keeps it running more efficiently and reduces wear and tear that accumulates from moisture and debris.
  • Covering protects the unit from water damage to the coils, which reduces any instances of electrical faults, including short circuits.
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Related Article: What It Means When Your Air Conditioner Starts Making A Strange Noise 

Why Covering the Air Conditioning Unit is Not Good

image of question marks depicting why not use an air conditioner cover

Many professionals recommend you leave the air conditioners uncovered during the cold season in spite of the benefits we shared above. Air conditioners withstand harsh weather because their design enables them to operate safely in the open. Therefore, covering the air conditioning unit creates a moist atmosphere that could damage it in the long term. Other drawbacks of covering the unit during the cold season include:

  • Accumulated moisture left unattended under the cover encourages corrosion and rust in the air conditioner’s metallic parts.
  • The increased humidity caused by covering the unit could damage the electrical parts.
  • An air conditioning unit works in an open environment, so covering it reduces airflow around it and encourages mildew and mold growth.
  • Unfortunately, covering the unit attracts rodents and other small animals looking for a warm space to live in during the winter. Small rodents may chew the electrical wires, which leads to malfunction and other issues.
  • Manufacturers recommend against covering the air conditioner, and this practice could void the warranty.
  • When you cover the air conditioning unit, the temperatures around it drop, which could result in the air conditioning coils freezing.

Therefore, covering your home air conditioner exposes it to further damage. However, use a breathable cover if you insist on protecting it. A breathable cover allows airflow around the unit but doing so could encourage rodents and insects to live inside the unit.

You have other options to protect your unit, such as constructing an overhead structure that keeps seeds, leaves, sticks, and other debris from falling into the system. This method allows your air conditioner to have breathing space around it and keeps rodents out.

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Related Article: Why Is My Outside AC Unit Tripping The Breaker?

How Can You Protect Your Air Conditioning System During the Winter Months?

As mentioned above, manufacturers design air conditioners to tolerate extreme weather. Conditions, such as falling snow or ice, reduce the system’s efficiency during prolonged harsh weather. You do not want snow or ice inside the system for long periods, so you must determine how best to protect your system. However, remember that you cannot cover the system tightly. We share the following ideas and suggestions to assist you:

  • Set plywood on top of the system and weigh it down with rocks or bricks to prevent falling snow and ice from getting into the system.
  • Expand your awning to protect the surface of your air conditioning unit.
  • Place shrubs and trees around the system to reduce the impact of heavy winds that may hurl snow inside the unit.
  • Construct a shade over the air conditioner to protect it in winter and summer.
  • Arrange for a professional HVAC technician to assess the unit during the winter and repair any issues.
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Should You Operate your Air Conditioning System During the Winter?

We recommend against running your air conditioning during the winter. Units with condensers are designed for use during warmer weather because the outdoor component, the condenser, utilizes oil-based lubricants to grease the compressor. The oil will freeze and become unable to lubricate the compressor effectively if the temperatures drop below sub-zero. Avoid this scenario because it will stress the system to work harder to push cool air and consume more energy. Your unit will deteriorate faster in these conditions. Turn down your heating system if the temperatures are not very low in the winter while ensuring that you keep your family comfortable.

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Keeping your air conditioner uncovered during the winter is more beneficial than covering it. Therefore, when you winterize your home, bypass the air conditioning system. Speak with a certified HVAC technician about preparing your HVAC system for the winter.

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Related Article: Why Does Air Conditioner Sizing Matter?

Call Hart Home Comfort For All Your HVAC Needs


Hart Home Comfort delivers superior cooling and heating services in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, New York. Our team comprises diligent and efficient professionals who can assist with replacing dated systems, repairs, tune-ups, and installations. Our technicians are knowledgeable and experienced in all aspects of HVAC systems and can service your unit efficiently.

Hart Home Comfort guarantees competitive cooling and heating fees in our area. Our services not only improve your family’s comfort but improve your home’s energy efficiency. You will also benefit from reduced cooling and heating expenses. We recommend the most suitable solutions if you need your HVAC system repaired or replaced. We stay within your budget while giving you options that keep your family safe and comfortable. We guarantee our work will meet your satisfaction. Arrange a service appointment by calling Hart Home Comfort today. We provide in-home estimates at no cost. Click the link to view our service area.

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For any questions about what Hart Home Comfort can do for you, give us a call today. Click here to contact us now or call us at (631) 667-3200 to find out more!