Do I Need To Cover My Outside A/C Unit This Summer?

An AC cover could be a good thing for your summer home.

If you’re like most people, a simple stroll into Lowe’s, Home Depot, or your local hardware store means coming across products you might never have thought you needed- like air conditioner covers.  Many people in the HVAC community debate the need for covers, so we thought we’d list the pros and cons so you can decide what’s best for you.

The benefits of covering an air conditioner include:

  • Keeping the air conditioner coils a little cleaner, so it will run more efficiently when it’s turned on again.
  • Especially at the shore, where salt air can be corrosive to a/c units, keeping the coils a little more protected from storms and exposure to salt air is certainly a factor to weigh in the decision.
  • Covers prevent yard waste, sticks, leaves and other things from blowing into your unit and causing damage.
  • Covers can prevent water from resting directly on coils and freezing, which could be damaging, especially if there are a lot of freeze-thaw cycles over the Winter.

The potential reasons to not cover a unit include:

  • Covering a unit with a plastic cover will trap moisture inside, creating a high humidity environment, by creating a bit of a “greenhouse” effect for your unit when the sun beats down on the cover. The electrical components, and circuit boards hate this sort of environment, and especially at the shore, this might just accelerate corrosion by trapping salt air and then heating it up. To address that look for a cover that “breathes” like canvas or has a liner on the inside to absorb some moisture and minimize the collection and dripping of water.
  • Most manufacturers don’t specifically recommend covering the outside unit.
Covered AC Plywood.jpg

Some folks use a partial cover, like placing a piece of plywood over the top of the unit, to keep out leaves and debris, while leaving the sides open to prevent too much moisture from accumulating in the unit. If there’s a good chance ice might fall from a gutter onto the unit, or it’s in a spot likely to be affected by winter ice storms, a simple plywood cover might be helpful added protection.

Our Final Answer… 

In our environment, the right cover makes sense. A plastic tarp does not. If you do cover your unit:

  • Do not cover a heat pump—it runs all year
  • Wash the outdoor unit off before you put the hose away and let it dry for a day before covering.
  • Make sure to turn the power off to the unit so somebody doesn’t forget next spring and turn the AC on with the cover still on—that WILL damage the unit.

If you’d like a custom made lined cover call us at (609) 400-1005 with the model number off the data plate usually found on the side of your unit or with the dimension of your unit and tell us you read this blog. We’ll get you the cover and give a $20 discount for having read this.

Need HVAC Service?

Contact the experts at Comfort Now by Bob McAllister.

Call us at 609-400-1005!