You've purchased your new house with central A/C. Great! Summer weather comfort has never been easier. But during the winter months, the outdoor portion of your air conditioner, the condenser, should be covered to protect it from the elements. Falling leaves, snow and ice can cause deterioration and rust potentially shortening the life span of your condenser unit.
So how should you cover an air conditioner for winter? First we’ll tell you why it needs protection, and then we’ll get to how to cover an air conditioner for winter safely so that you don’t cause unintentional damage.
Here’s why the condenser needs protection
Leaves and debris can get caught in the small fins of the condenser’s coil slowing down air flow. Low air flow will reduce the systems efficiency by limiting the release of the collected heat from your home.
Heavy accumulations of snow and ice can accumulate on the fan blades, and coil fins causing damage. Ice can melt and refreeze causing more distortions and damage to components as the ice expands.
Falling ice from roofs crash into the condenser with force causing damage to the casing, or worse, damaging those sensitive coil fins.
How not to cover your condenser unit
IMPORTANT: Never wrap your air conditioner in plastic!
Stay away from commercially available air conditioner covers made of plastic. Why? Because plastic does not breathe. This is the most crucial tip about how to cover an air conditioner for winter. Plastic covers trap moisture and prevent condensation from escaping. When that happens, your air conditioner can develop rust or mold growth.
Use a cover made of a breathable material. Most manufacturers sell covers for each model. The top of the exterior A/C component should be protected, usually a piece of plywood is set on top to guard against snow and ice especially if ice, snow or water spills off the roof on it.
Seems simple right? A little protection now may go a long way to keeping your air conditioning system operating at its best for years to come.