Air Conditioner Cover Ideas In South Jersey: Do’s And Don’ts
How (And How Not) To Cover Your AC In The Winter And Year-Round
Caring for your air conditioner isn’t just a spring and summertime job! Your central air system needs some year-round TLC for the best performance and longest life. And, so it looks great next to your house!
Fortunately, that’s easy to do as long as you know how — and how not — to protect your outdoor air conditioner condenser from animals, the elements, and other hazards.
In this article, we’ll review:
- Why Cover Your Air Conditioner
- Best Ways To Cover Your Air Conditioner
- How Not To Cover Your AC
- Why A Spring Tune-Up Is Worth The Money
If you have any questions about the central air or HVAC system in your South Jersey home, call or email us here at Broadley’s! We’ve served Marmora, Ocean City, Avalon, Cape May, and other towns for more than a century.
Why Cover Your Air Conditioner
Five good reasons to cover your air conditioner are to:
- Prevent Animals From Getting In
- Prevent Theft Or Vandalism
- Make Your Property Look Nicer
- Protect It From The Elements
- Avoid Damage From Ice
Prevent Animals From Getting In
Once it gets cold out, all sorts of critters are looking for a warm, safe place to stay. An AC unit fits the bill. The problem for you is the damage they can cause while they’re in there.
Animals will chew through electrical wire, and you may not realize it until you try to turn on the system in the spring. Or, they’ll set up a nest, which you’ll have to get rid of before you can use your AC.
Prevent Theft Or Vandalism
Air conditioner theft is more common than you may realize. Many times, the motive doesn’t even have to do with comfort. Instead, thieves are in it for the scrap metal they can strip from the system and cash in later.
Then, of course, you have mischief-makers who just want to cause trouble. A secure enclosure can prevent both from happening.
Make Your Property Look Nicer
If you can’t stand the sight of an ugly metal box next to your house, or near your garden, or close to the patio, a decorative cover can make a big difference. You’ll protect the condenser from threats while making your home’s exterior look more appealing.
Protect It From The Elements
An air conditioner cover protects your outdoor unit from the elements in the winter. Sure, it rains in the summertime too. But you’d damage the equipment if you covered up the exhaust while it’s turned on.
Instead, you want to avoid damage from snow building up on top of the unit, because that moisture will cause it to rust.
And, it’s more of a concern near the ocean than in towns further inland. The salt in the air is corrosive and will eat away at the outdoor unit.
Avoid Damage From Ice
You’d be surprised at how much damage ice can cause on an outdoor AC condenser. The problem is when the unit is close to the house — particularly to a gutter.
Large icicles can damage the fan inside the unit when they fall off your house. Since the exhaust is on the top of the condenser, the icicles can pass through the grate and bend the fan blades.
Best Ways To Cover Your Air Conditioner
You can buy an air conditioner cover, but that’s not the best way to protect your AC — especially here on the islands. We’ll get into why a little later.
When it comes to ice or animals, the best strategy is to put a piece of plywood on top of it and weigh it down with a brick. It doesn’t look pretty. But, it prevents some unexpected side effects from other strategies that people have tried.
Another option is a permanent enclosure. You may have seen some on Pinterest that would match or accent your house. But, the wrong kind can cause some big problems.
Whether you buy a enclosure or build your own, you need to make sure:
- You leave 12 inches of clearance around the unit;
- There’s sufficient airflow around the unit;
- An HVAC tech can easily access the condenser.
How Not To Cover Your AC
Here’s what you should avoid doing when you want to cover your AC in the winter or create some year-round protection for the condenser.
Air Conditioner Covers
You’ve seen neat and tidy air conditioner covers on people’s outdoor units during the off-season. You’ve probably also seen people wrap a tarp around the condenser, tie it up and call it a day.
Appearances aside, covers are not a good option at all on the islands. In fact, they’re only a little better when you’re further inland.
The problem is that the covers create an inviting habitat for animals. Suddenly, the inside of your condenser — and the area around it — is warm and dark. That’s perfect for a nest or other infestations.
Then, near the shore, you have the problem of salt water in the air. When you cover the unit, you trap that corrosive moisture in and around the unit. That makes things worse.
We talked about what to look for in an AC enclosure. Now, here’s what to avoid.
First, do not use a solid box or other structure. Your AC needs to breathe! If you cut off the ventilation, the unit will overheat and break down.
If you want to go this route, use a lattice material, screen, or fencing. Remember to leave that foot of clearance around it no matter what you choose.
And, make sure there’s a gate or easy way to remove the structure. If your HVAC tech has to spend an hour taking the fencing off and another hour putting it back on, that’s time you pay for.
Instead, install a hinged gate with enough room to swing all the way open. Or build it so we can quickly remove the entire piece.
And, you can always call us if you’re concerned that the enclosure you have in mind may cause a problem.
Why A Spring Tune-Up Is Worth The Money
Once your AC makes it through another winter, it’s time to think about a spring tune-up! After all, you spent some time and money making sure your cooling system didn’t get damaged during the cold weather. Now it’s time to make sure it’s ready for another summer.
With a tune-up, or preventative maintenance, you’ll be sure your AC is in excellent shape for the warm weather. That means lower bills, better performance, and a longer-lasting system.
And, when you pair it with a maintenance contract, you’ll end up spending less than the cost of a tune-up while getting even more benefits.
You can read more about our maintenance contracts here and here, and about tune-ups here. Or, if you have any questions about preparing your AC for the winter — or getting it ready for summer — call or email us here at Broadley’s.