A/C Covers? Friend or Foe?

With the coming of cooler weather and falling leaves, many may ask whether or not their outdoor air conditioner is in need of some winter protection.  There are many products on the market today in the way of A/C covers but are they really worth it?  Or could they be more of a hindrance than a help?

A/C covers have their pros and cons and deciding whether or not the equipment should have one is really a customer preference.  With that said there are some things consumers should be aware of when wanting to protect their outdoor equipment.

1.  Is your outdoor unit an Air Conditioner or Heat Pump?  Not all outdoor equipment is the same.  Your outdoor unit could be a Heat Pump and outdoor Air Conditioner covers should only be used on Air Conditioners. 

2.  An air conditioner should never be turned on when sporting its new winter coat.   Covers can restrict air flow while a unit is running which causes the equipment to work extremely hard - harder than it was ever meant to work and therefore damaging the equipment. 

3. A/C covers can trap moisture inside the unit.  Outdoor air conditioners are designed to operate in wet conditions, but not allowing the unit to "dry out" can damage the inner workings of the equipment, causing unexpected damages when you go to turn on your unit in the Spring.

4.  A/C covers provide excellent shelters for unwanted mice and other rodents.  These little creatures can cause a lot of damage when they turn your A/C unit into their hibernation station for the winter.  Mice and other rodents are known for chewing through wires and building nests where they really shouldn't be.

Our recommendation: A/C covers aren't all that and we don't use them on our personal A/C equipment.  Keep in mind that outdoor air conditioners are designed to withstand the elements on their own.  Without the proper use and maintenance, A/C covers can do more harm than good for your outdoor equipment.  This could lead to costly repairs in the Spring. 

If customers are truly concerned about leaves, acorns, or other debris falling in their outdoor A/C during the fall and winter months,  cleaning the equipment before turning on the air in the Spring should do the trick.  If it's time to replace the outdoor unit, home owners may want to consider investing in a piece of equipment that is designed for areas that are more susceptible to falling debris.  Trane's XL16i, XL18i, & XV20i all come with Weatherguard II tops, which is a great feature for this application.