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Do I Need to Cover My Air Conditioner?

October 18, 2019

With cold weather on the horizon in Portland, you may be wondering 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 resist severe weather, including excessive temperatures and torrential precipitation.

Sometimes covers cause more problems, because they can trap moisture. Additional wetness inside your equipment can cause internal pieces to rust or get moldy.

While installing an air conditioner cover is a personal choice, there are two periods that are great for using a cover for a lengthy period of time—fall and summer.  

That’s because yard waste during those seasons—grass clippings, twigs and leaves—can pile up and obstruct your system’s airflow. Decreased airflow means your air conditioning unit works longer and may use more energy to cool your home.

Seeking other ways to make your air conditioner run efficiently? Annual AC maintenance from Three Rivers Heating & Cooling heating and cooling professionals can help. We’ll clean and lubricate your unit, and examine important pieces. This often allows us to identify issues before they begin.

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How to Choose an Air Conditioner Cover

If you come to the conclusion you want to cover your air conditioner, here are several tips on picking the ideal cover. 

Avoid Full Covers

To keep air flowing, a protective air conditioner cover should only encompass the top of your system and a couple of inches on the side.

Full AC covers can trap water inside your equipment, potentially rusting metal components. It could also make your air conditioner a welcoming home for vermin, which could sever 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 condensation to build up inside your unit. The best type of cloth is one that lets in air, like canvas or mesh.

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

When to Use an Air Conditioner Cover

If you decide 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 freely while keeping grass clippings and twigs 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 getting into your unit.

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 coming. Snow and ice that build up inside your air conditioner can melt and refreeze, damaging condenser coils and reducing efficiency.

Although it’s not always possible to predict a hailstorm, you can temporarily cover your air conditioner if a severe storm is approaching in Portland. Hail can seriously damage your system’s exterior, impacting 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, Three Rivers Heating & Cooling provides aid. Give us a call at 503-213-4433 or schedule an appointment online.