Are HVAC covers really necessary for an air conditioner? Once the cooling season is over, your central air conditioner is generally inactive until the weather heats up again. Some homeowners wonder if leaving the outdoor half of the unit exposed to the elements during the off-season is detrimental to components and the overall service life of the system. Here are some pros and cons of HVAC covers to help you make your own decision:
- The outdoor A/C unit is designed and engineered to withstand exposure to weather. Major manufacturers of central air conditioners typically make no specific recommendation regarding the use of HVAC covers.
- Avoid DIY attempts such as simply tightly wrapping the unit in plastic. This will trap moisture and condensation inside, which may accelerate corrosion and deterioration of internal components. Any HVAC cover you choose to utilize should provide adequate air ventilation to allow moisture and condensation to dissipate.
- Commercially produced covers designed for the shape and size of your particular air conditioner model are generally available at home centers. These fabric covers keep external dust and debris from affecting the condenser coil while also incorporating vents to allow free flow of air and prevent accumulation of moisture.
- If you have specific concerns about damage from heavy falling objects such as limbs during wind or storm conditions, a fabric cover may not provide adequate impact protection. In this case, a piece of plywood cut to size to fit the top of the air conditioner then weighted down with a bricks or other objects, may be required.
- Here in San Diego, spells of warm weather may occur during the winter and homeowners may opt to use air conditioning. If you have installed a cover or other protection on the outdoor half of your A/C, it’s critical to remember to remove the cover before starting up the unit. Operating an air conditioner with the outdoor component covered can quickly cause damage to expensive components including the system compressor.
For more advice about the use of HVAC covers, ask the professionals at Sherlock Plumbing, Heating & Air.