Should I Cover My AC Unit for the Winter?

Have you ever wondered if you should cover your AC unit for the winter? You’re not the only one - it’s a really common question.

Your HVAC system is expensive and anything you can do to prolong the life of your furnace and AC unit is something worth doing. Let’s take a look at reasons why you would want to cover your AC unit and even more importantly, the right and wrong way to do it.


There are a couple of scenarios where you don’t actually want to cover your outdoor AC unit.

  • You live in a warm climate and could be using the AC throughout the winter
  • You have a heat pump and it will be running through the winter and needs to be uncovered.

Although whole-house AC units are designed to be out in the elements 365 days a year—it’s something you can’t haul into your garage to help protect it better during the winter.

Does that mean everyone needs to cover their AC units? Not necessarily. But there are certain scenarios where you would want to cover it.

  1. Tree Prioxity: If your AC unit is under a tree or has trees that are nearby, it’s possible for leaves, pine needles, etc, to fall on it and fill the inside with debris. Covering it up can help keep those things out of it and makes it a lot easier come Spring to not have to clean a bunch of leaves and gunk out of it.

  2. Large Icicles: If your AC unit is under a section of the roof where large icicles form and could fall and damage the fan of your AC.

  3. Cleanliness: You want to keep it as clean as possible for as long as possible.

  4. Precipitation: If the area you live in gets a lot of precipitation in the offseason you may want to cover your unit to keep it dry. Even more so if you get freezing weather and snow so that your AC unit isn’t subjected to ice and freeze/thaw cycles.

    outdoor AC unit winter
  • First of all, don’t cover the entire unit with anything such as a large tarp. This can trap moisture under the cover and cause things to rust and corrode. It can also be used as a shelter for critters trying to find a home during the winter. Also, people do this and then forget to take it off before they turn on the AC again for Spring/Summer.

    wrong way to cover outdoor AC unit

  • When covering your AC unit, just focus on the top of it. You can use a piece of plywood or a tarp that’s folded and doesn’t go much further than 6 inches from the top. There are also specially designed AC covers that you can find on Amazon that are made for this very purpose. You can see what it looks like in the video above.

    right way to cover outdoor AC unit     right way to cover outdoor AC unit


Set a Reminder to Remove the Cover in the Spring

You will want to make sure to remove the cover before AC season as your AC unit won’t function well with the cover in place and can even be damaged by it.


Keeping your AC unit in good working condition doesn’t take long, but protecting it during the winter months can have long-term benefits.

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Dec 2nd 2021

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