The outdoor unit of your AC system was designed to withstand the elements. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t vulnerable, especially during a cold winter. When you’re not using the AC anymore for the season, turn it off at the disconnect or circuit breaker. Clients often ask us, “Should I be covering my AC in winter?” The answer is yes, and we’ll explain what to do below.

How Not to Cover Your AC

Many people believe they should wrap the entire condenser unit in plastic. This is a terrible idea. Plastic is non-breathable, meaning moisture can get trapped inside. As a result, vital AC components may rust, develop mold, or deteriorate. The covering can also dry out the unit, attracting small animals that can cause damage and contamination.

Cover the Top of the Unit

Ask your local HVAC company or a manufacturer how you should cover the unit, depending on the type and where you live. Generally, placing a plywood slab on top is enough. It should be just larger than the width and depth of the unit. Leave bricks or other weights on each corner of the plywood so it doesn’t blow off. You now have a protective covering that prevents sticks, leaves, dirt, icicles, hail, tree limbs, and other items from falling onto the unit.

Build a Roof Over the Unit

Constructing a small roof or awning over the HVAC unit can be beneficial. Make sure it’s spaced at least two feet above the top. It will provide year-round protection. There’s enough room for the condenser in the summer that it won’t overheat. No matter what option you use for a covering, leave at least three feet around the unit to maintain proper airflow and prevent it from getting clogged. Plants, shrubs, and bushes should be trimmed away from the condenser as well.

Don’t Forget the Pipes

Foam pipe covers should be used to protect AC lines from freezing. These slip onto exposed pipes, and then all you need to do is secure the covers with duct tape. The covers insulate the pipes so they don’t get too cold and rupture during a cold spell.

Check the Outdoor Unit Every Month

Even after your AC is winterized, it should be checked often. A visual inspection every month will help spot debris or small animals that can cause trouble. It also gives you a chance to brush away snow and ice, which improves the odds the system will run smoothly when you turn it on again.

About Window AC Units

Most window ACs can be covered. However, it is better to remove them from the window as these are sensitive pieces of equipment. Removing a window AC also allows you to completely seal the window to prevent air leaks, which can make it quite cold inside during the winter. Minimizing air leakage also improves furnace efficiency.

Schedule AC Maintenance with Over the Moon

If you have additional questions about preparing your HVAC unit for a Wisconsin winter, our dedicated team can help. You should be covering your AC in winter. Plus, annual maintenance and AC tune-ups can avoid frequent repairs and lower your electric bill. To schedule an appointment, contact us on the web or call 262-240-6397 today.