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Do I Need to Cover My Air Conditioner?

October 18, 2019

With cold weather on the horizon in the Bay Area, you may be thinking when you should cover your outdoor air conditioner. Of if you should even cover it at all.

Your AC unit is a tough piece of equipment. It’s designed to withstand severe weather, including extreme temperatures and relentless precipitation.

Sometimes covers do more harm than good, because they can trap moisture. Extra wetness inside your equipment can cause internal pieces to rust or become moldy.

While installing an air conditioner cover is an individual choice, there are two seasons that are good to use a cover for an extended period of time—fall and summer.  

That’s because yard waste during those seasons—grass clippings, twigs and leaves—can accumulate and lower your system’s airflow. Diminished airflow means your air conditioning unit works longer and may use more electricity to cool your residence.

Looking for other ways to make your air conditioner run efficiently? Routine AC maintenance from Contra Costa Heating & AC heating and cooling technicians can help. We’ll clean and lubricate your system, and inspect important parts. This often allows us to spot trouble before they begin.

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How to Choose an Air Conditioner Cover

If you determine you want to cover your air conditioner, here are several ideas on selecting the best cover. 

Avoid Full Covers

To keep air moving, a protective air conditioner cover should only enclose the top of your system and several inches on the side.

Total AC covers can trap condensation inside your equipment, potentially corroding metal pieces. It could also make your system a cozy home for animals, which could eat through wires.

Related: What New Homeowners Need to Know About Their Air Conditioner

Don’t Use Plastic or Vinyl Covers

Plastic or vinyl covers impede air, which could cause water to build up inside your air conditioner. The best type of material is one that’s breathable, like canvas or mesh.

Related: How AC Repair & Maintenance Can Actually Save You Money

When to Use an Air Conditioner Cover

If you want to use an air conditioner cover, here are the best times to install it.

Cover Your Air Conditioner During Summer

A lightweight mesh cover during the summer allows your air conditioner to run smoothly while keeping grass clippings and branches out.

Related: How Do I Know if My Air Conditioner is Running Properly?

Cover Your Air Conditioner During Fall

A breathable canvas cover will stop leaves, nuts and other waste from dropping into your system.

Related: Tips for Cleaning Your System

Cover Your Air Conditioner Before Severe Weather

You can temporarily cover your air conditioner in the winter when you know a snowstorm is on the way. Snow and ice that collect inside your system can melt and refreeze, breaking condenser coils and reducing efficiency.

Although it’s not always possible to anticipate a hailstorm, you can temporarily cover your air conditioner if a strong storm is coming in the Bay Area. Hail can severely damage your system’s fins, altering efficiency.

Related: How Severe Weather Can Lead to AC Repair

We Can Help Your AC System Run Efficiently

Whether you have questions about heating and cooling or need air conditioning service, Contra Costa Heating & AC gives help. Give us a call at 510-343-9841 or schedule an appointment online.