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Should You Cover Your Outdoor AC Unit?

Your clocks have been set back. Your sweaters are unpacked and ready for action. Winter is just around the corner. As you prepare your house for the colder weather, you may be wondering: Do I need to put a cover on my outdoor AC unit?

The short answer is “no.”

Air conditioner unit designers are pretty smart, and they already accounted for things like snow, wind, rain, sun and extreme temperatures. Your unit is designed to withstand some serious weather without being damaged, so a full cover isn’t necessary. However, placing a piece of plywood on top of the unit and weighing it down with a heavy rock will protect it from ice falling off your roof. This is a quick preventative measure that’s worth taking.

The long answer is “there’s some debate.”

Some homeowners prefer to cover their unit to prevent debris like leaves and dirt from getting into the vents and creating a cleanup job come spring.

The main drawback of doing this is that it may trap moisture inside your AC unit, which can lead to premature corrosion or even mold. So, if you do decide to use a cover, make sure that you leave at least 12 inches of coil exposed so that air continues to circulate during the winter.

Generally, unless your manufacturer specifically says otherwise, we recommend keeping things simple and just placing a piece of plywood on top of your AC unit. You won’t run the risk of mold or corrosion, and the wood will go a long way towards keeping leaves and debris out of your vents.

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