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  • Writer's pictureJustin Leach

Should I Cover My AC In The Winter?

Almost every house I visit this time of year involves a discussion of what to do with the air conditioner now that winter is approaching. I see so many homeowners do different things, from the indifferent homeowner that does nothing, to the elaborate homeowner that tarps it, then straps it, then covers it will a plywood box—I think he was preparing for hurricane season, not winter!

If you’re trying to extend the longevity of the Air Conditioner, I do typically recommend people cover them. The reason for this, is that there are small radiator fins that are exposed to air, and I would hate for them to get damaged from expanding water when freezing temperatures arrive. IF you really want to go a step further, put a piece of plywood on the top of the AC before you cover it, if you think the AC might be susceptible to large ice chunks falling on it—I see this happen quite often with folks that have a metal roof, where huge sheets of snow/ice can suddenly break way in a mini avalanche of sorts.

AC covers can certainly be done simply with a tarp and bungie cords, or a more refined look would be ordering one from Amazon—they’re about $30-$40. Also, make sure you don't have a heat pump--heat pump AC's still run in the winter time to heat your home!

However, I’m not sure whether any of this TLC actually improves the lifespan of the unit. It may certainly contribute to the AC’s quality of life—if you’re concerned with that sort of thing—but I have seen AC’s that have been neglected all their life run for 40 years, and AC’s that have been treated well with preventative maintenance last for 15 years. I think at the end of the day, the longevity of the AC is more a factor of the complexity of the technology in the unit, and the willingness for an AC owner to try to limp it along. AC’s with more technology break more frequently, and AC owners who opt for nickel & dime repairs vs. replacement probably get more lifespan out of the unit.

That said, if there’s one thing that is detrimental to AC’s this time of year, its mice! These beady-eyed buggers eye up Air Conditioners because they provide a perfect habitat for them to live in—strong exterior, protected from the elements and predators. Often, Mice begin looking for winter nests this time of year, and they very frequently nest in the electrical housing of the AC. These mice drag in all sorts of fluffy insulation, and have a knack for chewing on wires when they’re bored in the long winter months ahead. When spring comes around, unsuspecting homeowners are surprised to find their AC not working, and even more surprised by how much damage can be inflicted by one little mouse. Because of this, I highly recommend homeowners take the time to make sure their AC’s electrical components don’t have any unnecessary holes in them that might allow a mouse to get in.

If you’re concerned about winterizing your air conditioner, and would like one of our technicians to help you through the process, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!

Heidikin Heating, Electric, Plumbing & Well strives to help you with all of your home mechanical system needs.

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