When you’re prepping your home for the upcoming change of seasons, you may want to add “cover the air conditioning unit” on your to-do list. It’s true, your outdoor cooling unit is built to endure weather elements like rain, snow, and other harsh weather conditions. However, in Autumn, keeping out the falling leaves, twigs, seeds and other yard waste that is blowing around can be a good idea for keeping things from getting into your unit, collecting moisture and eventually causing rust and corrosion.
Cover – but don’t cover completely
That said, you only need to cover the top of your unit. It will not only help keep debris at bay, but will also help keep your coils cleaner, and prevent water from directly resting on your coils and freezing.
There is a right way and a wrong way to cover your unit. A proper cover should come down no more than about 6 inches, leaving room for any moisture inside to actually escape and evaporate. If you cover your unit completely, you could ironically end up trapping the rust and corrosion-causing moisture. Also, if it’s too well covered, you can actually create a mold problem.
Dangers of trapped moisture – Moisture is not the ideal environment for electrical windings, the wiring, or circuit boards in your air conditioning unit. In warmer times, the moisture can cause corrosion to these parts and others. During the coldest months, trapped moisture could cause your air conditioner’s condenser coils to freeze up, which can damage them over time.
The right cover – The good news is, it only takes something simple to do the job. For example, a sheet of plywood across the top will do most of the heavy lifting. It’s easy to find at any local hardware/lumber yard, and blocks most of those falling leaves, leaving the sides open to keep both moisture – and small animals out. Little creatures would love to find a completely covered unit where they can make a warm nest for the winter – but you would not love having them there! They not only create dirt and waste, but they are notorious for chewing up your wires for their bedding.
If you like a more esthetic cover, there are many retailers who provide AC top covers made of either vinyl or mesh. These are easy to install and remove and store during the summer.
Don’t forget Fall maintenance
Whether you decide to cover your air conditioning unit for the Fall or not, semi-annual maintenance by a trusted HVAC professional should definitely stay on the to-do list.Are There Creepy Critters in Your HVAC? » « This is What Happens When You Don’t Change Your Air Filter