Every year, as the cold season ‘inches’ forward here in Springfield and the greater Ozark area, a question comes down the pipe for homeowners:

Should you cover your outside air conditioning unit during the winter? 

Taking care of your HVAC system should always be a priority. 

This is, after all, a rather expensive thing to need to replace or repair. 

We are definitely familiar with how many homeowners struggle with some of these maintenance questions—and this question can be particularly problematic because there are a lot of variables and factors that go into it. 

Well, we here at F&S Master Air have seen firsthand the pros and cons of covering your A/C unit in the winter. And in this article, we’re going to explore the advantages and disadvantages, while also offering some guidance on determining if it’s right for your situation. 

We will also provide some basic instructions for how to do it correctly. 

Let’s dive into it. 

Pros of Covering Your A/C Unit in Winter

First of all, it’s important for you to understand that, yes, there are a lot of very tangible advantages and upsides to covering your A/C unit in the winter. 

Here’s a list: 

  • Protection from Debris: Covers can help prevent leaves, twigs, and other debris from getting inside the unit, which could potentially cause damage or impede efficiency.
  • Shielding from Snow and Ice: Although A/C units are designed to withstand winter weather, reducing direct exposure to snow and ice can help prevent rust and corrosion on metal parts.
  • Prevents Water Entry: Covering your A/C unit can help prevent water from directly entering the unit, freezing, and potentially causing damage as it expands.

Cons of Covering Your A/C Unit in Winter

There are also some very tangible disadvantages to covering your A/C unit. And while these aren’t always a massive factor, they should be taken into account. 

  • Moisture Build-Up: Completely covering your A/C unit can trap moisture inside, promoting rust and corrosion. This environment can also encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Pest Haven: A covered A/C unit can provide a cozy winter home for rodents and pests, leading to potential damage from nesting and chewing.
  • Forgetting to Uncover: A common risk of covering your A/C unit is forgetting to remove the cover before turning it on in the spring, which can cause severe damage to the system.

Should You Cover Your A/C Unit?

The decision to cover your A/C unit in winter largely depends on your specific situation. Here’s how to know if covering your A/C unit is a good idea:

  • Environmental Conditions: If you live in an area that experiences heavy snowfall, covering the top of the unit can provide protection against snow accumulation. However, in such cases, it’s also important to ensure that the cover is only on the top and allows for ventilation to prevent moisture buildup. In Missouri, this isn’t necessarily a huge need, as our snowfall inches don’t tend to be very high. 
  • Type of Unit: Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific A/C unit model. Some manufacturers advise against covering the unit, while others may recommend it. Honestly, this is probably the biggest determining factor. 

At the end of the day, we’ve come to the conclusion that consulting the owner’s manual is really the best way to determine whether you should cover or not. 

Now, let’s talk about how to cover your A/C unit the right way. 

How to Properly Cover Your A/C Unit

If you decide to cover your A/C unit for the winter, here are some basic instructions to ensure you do it safely and effectively:

  • Choose the Right Cover: Opt for a breathable, waterproof cover designed specifically for A/C units. Avoid using plastic or vinyl tarps that can trap moisture.
  • Cover Only the Top: Consider using a cover that only protects the top of the unit, which can prevent debris from getting in while still allowing for adequate air circulation.
  • Secure the Cover: Make sure the cover is securely fastened to withstand winter winds but can be easily removed when necessary.


Covering your outside A/C unit during the winter months has its pros and cons. While it can provide protection against debris and extreme weather conditions, improper covering can lead to moisture buildup, pest problems, and potential damage. 

It’s always important to assess your specific situation, consider the type of unit you have, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

And if you choose to cover your unit, make sure to select the appropriate cover and method to ensure your A/C remains in optimal condition, ready to keep you cool when the warmer weather returns.

And finally—if you need some help figuring out how to do this (or if you’d like someone to take care of it for you), don’t hesitate to give F&S Master Air a call.