This time of year we get a lot of questions from air conditioner owners about switching from cooling to heating. The most common question is whether or not to cover the outdoor unit (also called the condenser) of your air conditioning system during winter. If you are considering covering your A/C unit, here are some things to think about.

Covers may do more harm than good.

Calgary Air Conditioning

Air conditioning units are set up to deal with the dry, semi-arid climate of the region where precipitation is relatively scarce; even the snow that falls during the winter months is dry. When it does rain or snow, it’s usually only for a short time. After that, the sun returns and dries up the precipitation fairly quickly.

Putting a cover on your outdoor air conditioning unit prevents this natural drying process from occurring. The liners within the covers have a tendency to absorb the moisture and hold it close to the unit. This can cause the unit to rust because the water is kept in contact with the unit longer than it would be if it was exposed to the sun and wind. This can lead to repairs on your unit sooner than is normally necessary.

Sure, leaving the unit uncovered exposes the paint to the elements, but it also allows the sun and wind to keep the unit dry.

Paint quality has improved.

Outdoor air conditioning units now make use of high-quality, automotive-grade paints that are created to resist weathering and corrosion. In addition, manufacturers design these units to be out in the elements year-round.

Couple that with the weather conditions outlined above – short bursts of precipitation followed by drying exposure to the sun – and there’s really no reason to cover the outdoor unit of your air conditioning system during the winter.

It is damaging to run the unit with the cover still on.

This may seem like common sense, but on that first warm day in spring, it is easy to forget that the unit is covered. Running the outdoor unit with the cover still on deprives the mechanism of its ability to cool itself. Many owners have destroyed or damaged the outdoor units of their air conditioning system after forgetting to remove the cover.

If you do choose to cover your outdoor unit, we recommend turning the breaker that supplies power to the unit to the OFF position. This will prevent you from accidentally running the unit with the cover still on and hopefully remind you to remove the cover in the spring when it’s time to cool your home.


So the short answer to the larger question is no, it is not necessary to cover the outdoor air conditioning unit during the winter months. Some homeowners choose to do so, but we do not recommend winter covers for the reasons outlined above.

There is one situation where we would consider covering the outdoor unit: when it lies directly under or beside a large tree or bush that will be dropping leaves and debris all winter long. In this case, the cover keeps the debris from falling inside the unit where it can cause damage to the internal mechanism. For the most part, the outdoor unit in an air conditioning system is along the side of the home and there’s usually no fol


The most important thing you can do to properly maintain your central air conditioner system is to clean it regularly.  Failing to consistently clean your cooling system results in:

  • Higher energy bills
  • Decreased cooling efficiency
  • Higher repair costs
  • Shorter appliance life

Three elements make up a central air conditioner system with electricity as its power source. They are:

  • An outdoor section (the condensing unit)
  • An indoor section (furnace/indoor coil)
  • Ductwork to transfer the cooled air throughout the home

Follow manufacturer’s routine maintenance directions and have the entire system checked once a year by a qualified service technician.

Here are some steps homeowners can take to maintain the efficiency of their central air conditioning system and to save on energy costs:

  • Replaceable filters should be replaced every 30 to 60 days, and it’s best to get maximum efficiency filters
  • Keep windows and doors closed when the air conditioner is running
  • Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors to seal air gaps
  • Close drapes and shades over windows facing the sun

We all want to make sure we choose the best professionals for the job, and if your HVAC professional is giving you doubts, then maybe you’re wondering if you actually chose the right person for the job. Now that you’ve made the choice of who is going to do your furnace installation, it’s a little hard to go back. However, if you haven’t chosen yet, now’s a good time to get some research done to make sure you choose the right professional.

Good Contractors are Flexible

Not only should a contractor be honest about what the going price is on an item and, in addition, have fair and reasonable rates, they should be flexible about payment plans. Obviously, having a furnace installation done at a deficit is something you shouldn’t expect, but a contractor shouldn’t be charging hundreds more simply because they are located in a certain area, and they shouldn’t take advantage of a customer’s lack of knowledge about how much something actually costs to install.

Good Contractors Have Faired the Weather for Longer

Broken Furnace

Just because a contractor hasn’t been around for a while doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing quality work, but those who have seen their fair share of troubling times and have still managed to pull through are usually those who give quality care to their customers. If they are well-loved, recommended, and established in a community, contractors often stick around doing furnace installations longer than a typical Joe would. Take the time to track down these kinds of people.

Consider the Brand You Want to Install

Did you research your brands when you decided that it’s time to schedule an installation? Generally speaking, contractors vouch for and install a certain brand. Most of the time, this is done so the contractor has specific knowledge of the product that they are installing because they have received guidance from the manufacturer on the product. Here at Distinct Heating and Cooling, we proudly support York products because of their quality and financial friendliness.

Look for a contractor that’s willing to go above and beyond normal standards for your installation, and don’t just settle for someone who may not do the job you want done correctly. Do your research, and don’t hesitate to call us if you need advice, more information about York products, or an installation.