If you have a central air conditioning system that you will no longer be using as the winter weather rolls in, then you want to winterize the unit to make sure that it is in good shape to use during the spring and summer months. While many people choose to cover their outdoor condenser, you may not want to do this. Keep reading to learn about some issues that may develop if you decide to cover the AC unit all winter long.
If you leave your AC unit uncovered, then small rodents have very few, if any, spots where they can infiltrate the AC unit to seek shelter from the cold. If you add a cover, then this does create a space where rodents may live and build nests. A few different issues can develop if this happens. The rodents can eat through the insulation on the outside of the coolant lines and they can also chew through the wires used to power the unit. Both of these issues can have a significant effect on whether or not your air conditioning can even run in the spring.
Some AC covers do have ties to help you secure the unit to the bottom of the condenser. However, a mouse can get into a space that is only about one-quarter of an inch big, and sometimes smaller. Unless the cover is secured extremely tight, it will not offer much rodent protection.
Most people think that AC covers will prevent snow and ice from building up and infiltrating the AC unit. However, the outdoor condensers are made with extreme weather conditions in mind. This means that the entire unit is strong enough to withstand ice, snow, and any melting water that comes into contact with it.
The good thing about keeping the outdoor unit exposed is the fact that air can circulate around the unit so that excess moisture can easily evaporate when the weather starts to warm up. If a cover is secured over the AC unit, then water will build from underneath and mold is likely to develop. This mold will form both inside the condenser and outside. Internal mold will develop around the cooling coils and will block airflow when the unit starts in the spring. This can greatly reduce efficiency.
While your AC unit probably should not be covered all winter long, there are some situations where it might be wise to slip a cover over the condenser. If your weather forecast calls for a hail storm or a blizzard, then protection is a good idea until the extreme weather conditions past.