Should Air Conditioners Be Covered In The Winter?

As winter sets in, your dilemma as to whether to cover your AC intensifies. And you are right because this is a debate that has been in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVCA) industry for a long time. After countless hours of research, it's safe to say that we have an authoritative answer for you.

While your outdoor AC unit is designed to withstand the vagaries of the weather, it's advisable to cover your unit to protect against large debris (such as twigs, branches, and stones) and moisture (such as snow encasing the unit). Covering your AC will also keep the coils clean, so your unit continues to operate efficiently.

In this article, we'll discuss the above reasons in detail to demonstrate that you can cover your AC during wintertime and still retain its effectiveness. Let us get started, shall we?

An air conditioning unit covered in snow, Should Air Conditioners Be Covered In The Winter?

Protect AC Against Debris

As the winter season sets in, deciduous trees shed their leaves naturally. Loose leaves can be sucked into your AC unit. And it's not just leaves that pose hazardous. There's also dirt and sticks from the yard for you to prevent from getting into your unit.

The AC is designed for outdoor use and meant to withstand some debris, But it's advised to take extra care to ensure the longevity of the unit. Additional protection of a cover against debris and dirt build-up will save you money by reducing future maintenance and avoiding the hassle in the event the unit jams.

Besides, you want your AC to function optimally at all times. But this won't be possible with dirty coils. Dirt causes coils to freeze since the layer of dirt on top of the coils prevents them from quickly absorbing water. This excess non-absorbed water then freezes, obstructing proper airflow in the system.

Protect AC Against Snow Encasing

An uncovered AC allows water to gather on its coils. Once this happens, water freezes on the coils. Frozen coils can be damaging. If ice builds up, it obstructs the proper airflow of the AC system. Usually, it starts like frost but soon spirals out of control, eventually forming an ice block which prevents the AC from functioning effectively and potentially rusting.

It's okay to have a thin layer of snow around your outdoor AC, but when the snow gets thick and encases the unit, it damages the fan blades and the sensitive coil fins too! Falling ice can also hit the unit with a considerable amount of force if it isn't covered. Your unit's exterior and the coil fins get damaged with such force.

To Keep Your AC Coils Clean

Technically, your AC needs clean and uninterrupted air circulation throughout to function optimally. If there is dirt accumulating in the air filters, the obstruction causes filters to get cold. And the next thing you know, the coils are frozen because any lingering water cannot be absorbed quickly without freely moving air.

Dirty coils also develop mildew and mold, which disrupts the condenser unit's normal functioning. While this fact is not a health hazard, it usually causes efficiency problems and frustrates cleanup efforts.

How Do You Protect An Air Conditioner In The Winter?

Cover the AC unit during winter, especially when you live in extreme weather. However, ensure that your cover doesn't trap moisture within the unit or provide a haven for rodents.

Here are some suggestions for how to protect your unit:

  • Use a cover made of breathable material with durable tie-downs to keep the cover secure.
  • Place plywood over the unit top only, holding it in place with a brick or rock.
  • Mount a wood shelter or awning attached to the building to cover the unit's top.
  • Plant flowers around the unit to act as windbreakers.

What Are Some Of The Best AC Covers?

Sturdy Covers AC Defender

Made from durable, breathable PVC-coated material, this cover prevents moisture from accumulating in the AC unit's electrical bits. It's also designed to protect against snow and rain. Hold it firmly in place using four bungee hooks fastened to the side of the unit. This cover is best suited for outdoor AC units and can withstand even the harshest weather conditions. Click here to see on Amazon.

Classic Accessories Ravenna

Made from Gardelle One, a patented polyester fabric, this cover is water-resistant and can also be used to cover outdoor furniture. It has a creative design with padded handles that make it easy to use. The cover has stylish double-stitched seams that add extra reinforcement. Webbing belts secure the cover against strong winds. Available in aesthetic colors like dark taupe, espresso, and mushroom, the cover is easy to maintain because dirt isn't easily visible. Click here to see on Amazon.


This cover is strong and durable, always guaranteeing you great service. Its mesh fabric is water-resistant and does not puncture easily. Because helms are plastic, the cover is easy to use. It has straps that make adjusting to fit simple. The straps secure it in place, making it withstand strong winds and rains. Click here to see on Amazon.

Should Air Conditioners Be Covered In The Summer?

While the winter season experiences snow and water freezing on your AC, the summer season is the complete opposite. Leaves aren't flying around anymore, hailstones non-existent, and the humming sounds of ACs have gone all-time high.

While AC units are designed to survive the outside conditions, you still should cover them for protection against dirt and other debris, which may affect the AC systems' operational efficiency. During summer, weather is less of a concern; however, take care not to cover the heating section of the unit where moisture can be trapped.

Final Words

Outdoor AC units are engineered with adverse weather in mind. However, it's advisable to cover units to protect them from debris and dirt, moisture, and ice. All in all, you need to choose the correct cover that is sturdy, breathable, and easy to clean. You can DIY to provide top coverage or purchase a cover specifically manufactured for AC units. Either way, a protected AC unit will function properly for years to come.

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