As the hot summer sunshine starts to fade and the cooler temperatures of fall starts to settle in, residents of Tomball start preparing their homes and yards for the wintertime. For many, that leads to the question of whether they need to cover their outside air conditioner for the winter.

While it may seem like a good idea, the reality is there are many reasons why you shouldn’t cover your AC unit in the winter. On top of not being something you need to do, covering your outdoor air conditioning equipment can actually cause problems.

Here, the specialists at Premium Air Services LLC share five reasons why covering your air conditioning equipment doesn’t need to be on your fall to-do list and what you should do instead.

1. Snow won't Hurt Your AC

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

2. Covering AC Systems can Encourage Mold

One of the reasons you should not cover your AC unit in the wintertime is because doing so can trap moisture—which is not at all what you want in your outdoor unit. That’s because allowing moisture to collect inside the unit creates the perfect conditions for mold and mildew to thrive.

Mold and mildew not only have a bad smell, but they can also create health risks, especially for people with respiratory issues or allergies. Plus, 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 clear of debris, allowing for efficient airflow and preventing moisture buildup.

3. Your Covered Air Conditioning Unit Can Attract Animals

You and your family aren’t the only ones who get ready for winter. Animals that live around your home are also hunting for a warm, cozy place to live for the cold months. For many creatures, a covered air conditioner is an awesome winter home.

Birds, mice, chipmunks and even rats frequently make homes inside covered air conditioners. Animals residing in a covered AC unit can cause numerous problems. Mice can chew through wires, insulation and other components, causing damage that may require costly repairs. Debris animals bring into the AC to construct a warm and comfortable home can block airflow and ventilation, decreasing the efficiency of the AC and potentially causing it to overheat. Additionally, animal waste can result in unsanitary conditions and bad odors.

Leaving your air conditioner uncovered helps deter animals, because an uncovered AC offers less shelter from the elements than a covered unit. That’s better for your air conditioner—and leaves you with less mess to clean up and things to repair in the spring.

4. Covering Your Air Conditioner Restricts Airflow

Another reason not to cover your AC unit in the winter is because a cover restricts airflow through the unit. Suitable airflow is vital for the AC system because it assists heat exchange and enables the unit to cool effectively. When airflow is severely limited, the system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature, resulting in additional energy consumption and strain on the components.

In addition, if you run your air conditioning without knowing 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 correct airflow could cause the compressor to overheat, resulting in its failure or damage.  That’s why it is essential to ensure the outdoor unit has no blockages and is not covered to maintain optimal airflow.

5. AC Maintenance Works Better Than Covering Your Air Conditioner

The bottom line is, it's a lot more effective to do a little maintenance for your cooling system than to cover your outside AC unit.

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

Routine air conditioning maintenance not only enhances efficiency, but it also helps extend the unit's life span, lowers energy consumption and prevents costly repairs. Rather than using a cover, putting 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.