Should You Cover Your A/C Unit During the Winter?

Now that colder weather is here your outdoor A/C unit has probably become as dormant as your lawn. Since the unit won’t likely be in use from now until the spring, should you cover it to prevent exposure to rain, snow, and debris? Consider these advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

Advantages of Covering Your Unit

Covering your A/C unit during the off-season can help its coils stay clean so that they operate efficiently the next time you run your system.

A cover can shield the unit from falling leaves and heavy debris like sticks and branches. It can also protect it from impending snow and the build-up of ice, which—in excessive amounts—can damage the coils of the unit over time.

A cover can help prevent the accumulation of water on the coils of your unit, which can freeze when the temperature drops.

Disadvantages of Covering Your Unit

Plastic coverings, or ones that restrict airflow, can lock in moisture and cause rusting and internal moisture damage to your unit.

During the winter months small animals seek shelter from the cold, and a covered unit—especially one wrapped in a watertight covering—can be an attractive nesting place for these pests, which can damage your unit.

Most air conditioner manufacturers simply don’t recommend that you cover your outdoor unit.


Always inspect your unit for leaves, branches, pine needles, animal nests and any other kinds of debris, which can all cause damage and affect its ability to function well over time.


Outdoor A/C units are built and tested to endure extreme conditions. The condenser, which sits outside, has a durable finish to withstand sun, rain, and snow, and the unit’s inner coils and mechanics are designed to stand up to the elements.

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