Tag Archives: home efficiency

Should You Cover Your Air Conditioner for the Winter?

Winter has finally reached the Triad; are you ready? Hopefully, you’ve already had Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning do our seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system. But now the question arises: should you cover your air conditioning unit for the winter?Should I cover my air conditioner in the winter?

This is a question that has been hotly debated for years, and there’s not exactly a simple answer. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of covering your air conditioner, and to decide on the best choice for you.

Reasons to Cover Your Air Conditioner

  • It keeps falling snow and ice out of the unit.
  • It keeps leaves and debris from clogging the unit.
  • It keeps water off the coils, where it can freeze and damage them.

Reasons Not to Cover Your Air Conditioner

  • Even with a cover, moisture from condensation can get into your air conditioning unit, causing damage. This is why seasonal maintenance is so important.
  • The moisture from condensation can breed mold and mildew, which can also damage your system and degrade air quality.
  • Covering your air conditioning unit can create a lovely haven for mice and other animals to make a winter nest.

What’s the Bottom Line?

In the Triad, we don’t often experience extended harsh winters. However, blizzards and hailstorms are the two weather events that warrant covering your air conditioning unit. If such a storm is in the forecast, cover your unit before the storm starts, and remove it afterwards. In the case of a blizzard (extremely rare in the southeast), take a few minutes to brush the snow from around the base of the unit.

What is Stack Effect?

I want to tell you about something that occurs naturally in the home. It is called the Stack
Effect. It works much like a chimney.what is the stack effect

This effect happens when the warmer indoor air rises up from lower living areas and escapes through the upper openings of a building in much the same way that cross ventilation works. What is cross ventilation? It occurs when people open windows on opposite sides of the house to cool indoor temperatures. If you have central air conditioning, you don’t need to open a window. But let’s get back to explaining the stack effect.

If you stand in front of a fireplace and strike a match, you will see the smoke leave and go up the chimney. This same effect happens in each home. The taller your home, the more stack effect you have in it.

The same effect helps keep your attic cool also. Go outside of your house and look under your soffit to see if you have soffit vents. If you do, you are in great shape. The air moves in from these soffit vents in a way that is similar to the stack effect. It goes out through the vents in your attic, thereby creating a passage for natural ventilation that will save you money. If you do not have soffit vents, you will discover that it is very economical to have them installed or to install them yourself.

You may be asking what this has to do with air leakage. In an earlier blog, I talked about finding air leaks in your home using your central air and heating unit? I hope that that procedure helped you to find some of those leaks. In the same way that your air unit draws air in from your interior rooms and exterior cracks in your doors and windows, the stack effect will pull air through the same places—even when your unit is not running.

I hope I have helped you to understand a bit more about how your home works. Your home needs to perform at its highest potential to help you save money and become “greener.” And you can help it do that! Talk to your local HVAC contractor, and ask him about the stack effect. I feel certain that he will be able to explain this to you. He will also be able to show you ways of minimizing this effect in your home to help it become more energy efficient and save you money.