Does My Air Conditioning Unit Need A Cover In The Winter?

ac unit covered with snow in winter without an air conditioner cover

Preparing one’s home for winter is very important. No one should wait until winter comes to start identifying the areas that need winterization, which may include cleaning the gutters, calling for HVAC maintenance, and covering outdoor faucets.

However, while prepping for the winter, some homeowners wonder what they can do for their air conditioning unit. After all, we rely heavily on the air conditioner when summer comes.

Because of this, some homeowners use an air conditioner cover in the hopes to protect their unit. But does this work? Does an air conditioning unit need a cover in the winter? In this article, we’ll discuss the answer to this question.

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Does My Air Conditioning Unit Need A Cover In The Winter?

Air conditioners are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions for long periods, which means there’s no need to cover them no matter how harsh the weather is during winter.

Even if situated outdoors, the condenser is made with a durable and long-lasting finish, allowing it to withstand rain, snow, hail, and other weather conditions. The inner parts are also made with the same goal, to ensure that they can withstand extreme weather.

So, even if it’s hailing outside, it is unnecessary to cover your unit.

Why Some Homeowners Think They Should Cover Their Air Conditioners

Some homeowners choose to cover their air conditioner, thinking that it has some benefits, which includes:

  • Protecting the unit from debris
  • Preventing long-term wear and tear caused by debris and moisture accumulation. This also somehow helps the air conditioner to continue running efficiently.
  • Preventing the water from coming into direct contact with the coils, which reduces the chance of electrical faults.

These reasons may sound valid. However, manufacturers would still argue that covering an air conditioner is a bad idea.

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Why Covering Your Air Conditioner Is A Bad Idea

image of a fan on air conditioner condenser that is rusty

Experts would argue to leave air conditioners uncovered during winter, and they have a very good reason to do so. Apart from the fact that these systems can withstand extreme temperatures, air conditioners are also made to operate while in the open.

If you cover an air conditioner, you’re creating ideal conditions for moisture to accumulate, which can damage the unit further. This is the exact opposite of the benefit mentioned above.

Apart from this, other disadvantages would include:

  • Rusty and corroded metallic parts caused by moisture trapped under the cover
  • Damaged electrical components because of the humid environment created by the cover
  • Airflow blockage
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Creating a conducive environment for rodents and other animals in winter, which can lead to the system’s malfunction if rats would chew on the electrical wires
  • Voiding of warranty
  • Frozen air conditioner coils

In other words, covering the air conditioner will mainly just expose the system to significant damage.

However, if you feel the need to cover it, one option is to use a breathable cover so the air can still circulate. But because this may still create a conducive environment for rats, you might want to build an overhead structure instead.

Building an overhead structure will protect the air conditioner from falling leaves, sticks, and other debris. The best part is, there would still be enough breathing space for the unit so that moisture would not build up and rodents would not use your unit for housing.

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Tips To Protect Your Air Conditioner in Winter

image of an air conditioner tune-up

Wanting to protect an air conditioner unit during winter is pretty normal. After all, even if an air conditioner can withstand harsh weather conditions, ice and snow falling and getting stuck into the system can significantly lower the unit’s efficiency.

However, several things can be done to protect the unit without the need to cover it tightly. Here are some of them:

  • Putting plywood on top of the system and weighing it down with bricks and rocks. This helps prevent the ice or snow from entering the system.
  • Extending the house’s awning to cover the entire surface of the air conditioner
  • Planting trees and shrubs around the air conditioner to help block winds that may push the snow inside the unit
  • Building a shade over the unit to protect it during summer and winter
  • Calling a professional HVAC contractor to inspect the unit in winter and fix any issues
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Is It Advisable To Run Your Air Conditioner In Winter?

If you’ve protected the air conditioner, is it alright to run it?

Well, the simplest answer is NO.

Air conditioners are mainly designed to run only when the weather is warm. The condenser unit, also known as the outdoor portion of the air conditioner, uses an oil-based lubricant, which during winter, can freeze.

Therefore, when this oil freezes, it won’t be able to lubricate the compressor correctly. This will cause the air conditioner unit to work harder to start pumping air. In return, the unit would consume more energy and will wear out faster.

So, even if temperatures aren’t that low in winter, the best thing to do is turn down the heating system instead of turning on the air conditioner.



Preparing the home for winter is something that needs to be done. However, this doesn’t include covering your air conditioner as it will just do more harm than good.

If you wish to know more information about what you can do to prepare your HVAC unit for winter, feel free to talk to a professional HVAC contractor like Point Bay Fuel.

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Point Bay Fuel offers superior heating and cooling services in Ocean and Monmouth County, New Jersey.

We make sure to hire certified technicians who can provide you with excellent services, including tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Each technician has outstanding knowledge and experience to serve your HVAC system needs correctly.

Point Bay Fuel guarantees to provide the most competitive heating and cooling service costs in the area. Our maintenance services ensure to improve your comfort, increase your system’s energy efficiency, and reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs.

Need your system repaired or replaced? We’ll recommend the best one for your home and is within your budget. The best part is, all our work is backed with a guarantee to ensure your satisfaction.

If you wish to schedule a service appointment, give us a call today! We also offer in-home estimates at no cost at all.

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