Should I cover my outdoor unit in the fall and winter?

We are now in the fall and winter months so we would like to cover one of our fall frequently asked questions
To Cover or Not to Cover?

Covering your outdoor unit during the winter has been a “heated debate” in the HVAC field for years now.  There are pros and cons to both sides and each contractor will recommend something different. Here we will explain both sides and then we will give you our final recommendation.

Pros to covering your air conditioner:
* Keeps your air conditioner coils a little cleaner so it may run a little more efficiently when you use it again.
* Prevents heavy debris like sticks, branches and other yard waste from blowing into your AC unit.
* Helps prevent water from directly resting on your coils and freezing, which could be damaging.

Cons to covering your air conditioner:
* Covering an entire unit may actually trap moisture by creating a high humidity environment as the sun beats down on the cover.  Inside this moist environment is your electrical windings, wiring connections, and in some cases circuit boards.  None of these items do well in the moisture.
* During the winter months the temperatures cause small animals to find a warm place to nest away from the elements.  Covers provide a very tempting spot for these animals to call home.  Small animals can be detrimental to your unit by chewing the wiring harness for their bedding.  This can lead to a very expensive fix for you in the spring.
* Most AC manufacturers don’t specifically recommend covering the outside unit.

Our recommendation is that covering the unit is not necessary. If you do still want to cover your unit to keep out debris we have found that a simple piece of plywood across the top is a perfect fit.  It is inexpensive, will keep out most debris, and leaves the sides open to keep moisture and animals out. If you do insist on covering the unit there are short covers available which will work similarly to the plywood but will cost you a little bit more.

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