Why You Should NEVER Cover Your Air Conditioner

September 15, 2015

Fences make good neighbors, but they make poor protection for your air conditioner.

Fences, bushes, air conditioner covers, and anything else that closely surrounds your AC’s outside unit restricts airflow around the unit. Restricting airflow not only runs up your power bill, but it can also cause the compressor (the AC’s engine) to overheat and die.

Here’s why

Why your AC’s outside unit needs to “breathe”

To cool your home, your AC uses refrigerant to absorb heat in your home’s air and then dumps that heat outside (think of it like a heat sponge).

In this process, your outside unit (the one with the fan) has one job: to release the heat outside.

But when the unit covered in bushes, a fence, or anything else, it can’t “breathe.” It’s like it’s wearing a sweater and struggles to release heat from the refrigerant.

That means the AC must run longer and longer to cool your home. Longer run times mean more energy used. More energy used means higher energy bills.

Even worse, super long run times can overheat the compressor and kill it. And you don’t want that. The compressor is the AC’s engine. If it dies, you might as well get a new outside unit.

Beware of the AC cover you can’t see

Even if your outside unit does not have a fence or bushes surrounding it, you should beware of the cover you can’t see: dirt.

Dirt slowly accumulates over time on the outside unit’s condenser coil (the part that’s releasing the heat). Too much dirt:

  • Prevents heat from escaping the coil
  • Insulates the coil from the condenser fan, which is supposed to aid in releasing the heat.

Do this: Wash the AC outside unit at least twice a year (once in the spring and once in the fall) using a garden sprayer on a light setting.

Or, if you want to keep your AC in tip top shape, get professional AC maintenance, which typically includes washing the outside unit and other tasks that prevent pricy AC breakdowns.

Advanced Air has been serving Fort Myers, Naples and the surrounding areas for over 25 years.