With the cold winter months looming ahead, the last thing most Las Vegas residents have on their minds is running their air conditioner. Since most air conditioners utilize both an indoor and an outdoor unit to condition air, it makes sense to want to try and protect the outdoor unit while it’s not in use.
After all, your indoor unit has full protection throughout the winter, so doesn’t your outdoor unit deserve the same level of care? The truth is that the answer to this question is somewhat complicated and is in many ways based on personal preference. For a better explanation, read this guide from The Cooling Company on the pros and cons of outdoor HVAC unit covers.
Why Is There an Outdoor Unit?
If you’re new to the world of HVAC systems, you’re probably wondering why there’s an outdoor HVAC unit in the first place. The key to answering this question is understanding how air conditioners work.
Air conditioners from The Cooling Company don’t make the air in your home cooler. Instead, they pull heat out of the air in your home and then transfer that heat outside. This process is done by changing the pressure and temperature of refrigerant so that it is colder than the surrounding air when it’s inside your home and hotter than the surrounding air when it’s outside your home.
The outdoor unit’s purpose is to increase the temperature of the refrigerant and then help the refrigerant expel its heat into the outside air. Since the heat has to be sent outside, this unit has to be physically present outside, which explains its location.
How Should I Prepare?
If you choose to cover your outdoor HVAC unit, it’s important to make some basic preparations to ensure good results. For starters, you’ll want to confirm that your outdoor unit isn’t used during the winter. If you have an air-source heat pump, your outdoor unit does double duty and works during the winter to extract heat from the air and send it into your home. These types of units are especially common in Las Vegas, so it’s important to do this check. Assuming you have a typical air conditioner, though, you can continue the covering process.
It’s also a good idea to check and make sure that there are no leaves or other debris in the bottom of the outdoor unit. Normally, this debris isn’t a problem. However, with a cover on your outdoor unit, the unit won’t be able to breathe as well, meaning that any moisture that gets into your unit will moisten the debris and potentially cause rust. With the debris gone, the risk for rust will be much lower. Finally, make sure to cut power to the outdoor unit so that you don’t accidentally turn it on in the spring while it’s still covered.
What Is the Best Kind of Cover?
Although it’s perfectly fine for your outdoor HVAC unit to spend the winter uncovered, you may still want to cover it for one reason or another. If so, we at The Cooling Company recommend that you purchase a breathable cover made from stretchable fabric.
The cover must be breathable to ensure that both the cover and the outdoor unit can dry out when they’re exposed to moisture from dew or rain. The cover should also be stretchable to ensure a tight fit over your outdoor unit. A tight-fitting cover will help to prevent leaves from blowing between the cover and the unit and causing rust.
Maintaining Your Outdoor Unit’s Appearance
Some people choose to use a cover over their outdoor HVAC unit to maintain the unit’s exterior appearance. Of all the reasons to use a cover, this is probably the most valid.
After all, if leaves or other debris adhere to your unit during the winter, they could leave prints on the unit that could be permanent. Additionally, covering your unit during the winter months greatly reduces the amount of UV exposure that your unit receives.
At the same time, we at The Cooling Company want you to remember that the manufacturer of your outdoor unit wants the unit to look great for as long as possible. After all, one of the best advertisements for their company is to have a great-looking HVAC unit in your yard.
This means that HVAC manufacturers go to great lengths to coat their outdoor units with weather-resistant finishes that can stand up to extreme conditions. Plus, since the unit is made from tough metal, you can pressure wash the unit if it gets dirty from not being covered.
Outdoor Unit Care Tips
Whether or not you choose to cover your outdoor unit, there are other steps you can take to care for your outdoor HVAC unit. One critical component of this process is keeping the unit clean. If the top or sides of the unit are exceptionally clogged with dust and debris, the unit won’t be able to expel heat efficiently, meaning that your system will have to work harder to cool your home.
Using a normal garden hose, you can clean the fins on the side and under the bottom of your outdoor unit anytime it gets dirty. Additionally, if your outdoor unit is located in a grassy area, you’ll want to be sure to keep the grass at a reasonable height to ensure the unit can breathe properly.
You can also perform a visual inspection to ensure that the fins aren’t bent and that the fan blades aren’t chipped or bent. If you notice any problems, you’ll want to contact The Cooling Company to make sure that these issues are corrected before they cause your compressor to overheat and fail.
One of the biggest risks of using a cover is moisture retention. Under normal circumstances, your outdoor HVAC unit is quite good at drying out after it gets wet. It is designed with an angled bottom and drain holes to ensure that water exits the unit as soon as it enters. Plus, even if it does have a little standing water in it, it can still operate safely.
When you put a cover on the unit, though, you risk interrupting this process. Part of what allows the unit to dry out quickly is the evaporation of moisture through the top and sides. However, if the top and sides are blocked with a cover, the evaporation will slow down or stop, meaning that water sits in the unit longer than it should. That’s why we at The Cooling Company highly recommend that you use a breathable cover if you feel that a cover is necessary.
We’ve Got What It Takes
At The Cooling Company, we want to be your ally in your quest toward greater home comfort. That’s why we offer repairs, maintenance, and installation services for air conditioners and furnaces alongside our other services such as ductwork replacement, thermostat installation, and more. Our experienced technicians and focus on superior customer service are just two of the many qualities that set us apart for our Las Vegas customers, who consistently leave us five-star reviews. For more information on protecting your HVAC equipment, contact the professional HVAC technicians at The Cooling Company today.