How to Make a Cover for a Central Air Conditioning Unit

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Covering the outdoor component of your central air conditioner, the condenser, can protect it from cold weather or falling icicles during the winter. Doing so ensures that you can turn the air right back on without trouble when the spring brings warm weather again. Making your own air conditioner cover is a straightforward task, simple enough for a beginner at do-it-yourself household projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Plywood
  • Circular saw
  • 4 bricks
  • Paint or varnish (optional)
  • Sandpaper
  • Measure the top of your air conditioner. Pencil the outline of the unit onto a piece of plywood, using a ruler to make straight edges. Add an extra margin of one to two inches around the border and make a second, larger outline.

  • Use a circular saw to cut the plywood to size, following the larger outline you have drawn. Sand the sides to remove any splintered or rough edges.

  • Paint or varnish the plywood on all sides. Let the paint or varnish dry completely, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Sand the entire surface with fine grit sandpaper if you prefer a smoother finish. For the final round of sanding, moisten the sandpaper with a bit of water.

  • Set the plywood over the top of the air conditioner condenser, lining it up so fully cover the unit. Set a brick at each corner to weigh the plywood down. Paint the bricks the same color as the plywood, if you so wish, to create a more uniform look.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's a common practice to completely cover an air conditioner condenser with a plastic tarp or other material. However, it's best to avoid such a full-blown measure; setting a sturdy cover over the top of the unit is sufficient. Otherwise, you might attract vermin to live inside the warm covering. Condensation can also collect within the tarp, causing the air conditioner to malfunction.
  • Do not use any type of cover on your condenser during the winter if your air conditioner uses a heat pump. If the air conditioner also functions as a heater, it most likely has a heat pump. It's most likely you have a heat pump if you live in a location with mild winters.
  • If you do use an air conditioner cover, remove it before you turn on the system to cool your home. Otherwise, the extra covering can overheat the system, potentially causing irreversible damage.

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