Should I Cover My Air Conditioner or Heat Pump In The Fall And Winter?

Is It a Good Idea to Cover Your Air Conditioner or Heat Pump When It’s Not in Use?

Although most people in Puyallup, WA, stop using their air conditioner sometime in September, the outdoor unit that powers your air conditioner remains outside all year long. Since other outdoor items, such as patio furniture and swimming pools, get covered up in the fall and winter, it makes sense that your outdoor air conditioner unit or heat pump would need to be covered, as well. Before you spend your hard-earned money on a cover, though, we have a few things that you should know.


Before air conditioner units are shipped to consumers, they are put through a series of torture tests to ensure they can stand up to almost any weather condition. This means that your air conditioner or heat pump can withstand the abuse that Mother Nature throws at it. The best part is that the units are tested without covers of any kind, meaning that a cover isn’t necessary to protect your unit against rain, sleet, snow or any other kind of precipitation.

Downsides of a Cover

Beyond not really being necessary, a cover can cause problems that may require repairs by Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning. One big problem is a lack of breathability. While some covers are designed to allow air to flow through them to your unit, others are designed with no breathability at all. These non-breathable covers prevent water from evaporating off of your unit, which could cause it to rust during a long Puyallup winter.

Additionally, the space between the cover and your outdoor unit provides a protected spot for some local wildlife to make their home. In the course of making a nest, a small animal could easily damage your unit so that it doesn’t work when you turn it on in the spring. Plus, you could find yourself dealing with an angry squirrel in the midst of your spring cleaning.

Good Protection

Protecting your outdoor unit from “the precipitation of fall” – that is, leaves, sticks and acorns – is actually a good idea. However, you don’t need a cover to do this task. At Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning, we recommend using a simple piece of plywood placed over the top of your unit to ensure that any falling debris is prevented from falling through the slats and into your unit. Then, once fall has concluded, you can remove the plywood and store it in your garage or shed.

Another good thing to do to help protect your outdoor unit is to cut the power to the unit by using the circuit breaker. This prevents unintended operation of the unit on unseasonably warm days and ensures that no power surges can cause expensive damage to the unit’s electrical components.

What About Window Units?

While a conventional outdoor HVAC unit from Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning doesn’t need much attention when the weather changes, a window air conditioner unit requires a little more care. To help prevent drafts from entering your home through the vents on the air conditioner, it’s a good idea to remove the air conditioner from your window and put it into storage. You’ll also need to remove the components that close off the rest of the window and shut and lock the window to keep out cold winter air.

A Word About Heat Pumps

In talking about outdoor HVAC units, it’s important to mention that there is a significant difference between an outdoor air conditioner unit and an outdoor heat pump. The difference is that a heat pump operates year-round, while an air conditioner only operates in the spring and summer. If you don’t know which type of system you have, it is vital that you call Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning to come out and provide clarification before you begin any winterization procedures. If you have a heat pump and you cover it or cut power to it, you could cause significant and permanent damage to your HVAC system.

We’ve Got the Answers to Your Questions

When figuring out how to best take care of your HVAC system, we have the answers to your questions. In addition, we provide hands-on services, including HVAC maintenance, repair, installation, air purifier installation, water heater services and more. We want to empower our customers with information and excellent service, which is one reason why we maintain accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. This unique approach to business earns us positive reviews from people just like you, raving about the difference we made in their home comfort. For more information about preparing your HVAC system for winter, give us a call at Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning today.

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