No, Your AC Unit Doesn’t Need an Umbrella

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With multiple parts of the country (and the world) experiencing record-breaking heat, people are getting creative when it comes to getting and staying cool. And with scorching temperatures putting air conditioning units to the test, those who rely on them to keep their homes feeling bearable are finding ways to keep them running.

A social media post featuring one of these strategies has been making the rounds lately, but HVAC experts say that it could do more harm than good. Here’s what to know.

Don’t shade your AC unit with an umbrella

The Facebook post in question shows a large, blue umbrella providing shade for an air conditioning unit and notes that some Texans have been doing this for years “to help their HVAC unit during the hot Texas summer temps.”

But air conditioning experts say that this strategy is a bad idea. For example, Blair Bodensteiner, owner of Bodensteiner Service Inc., an AC repair company in Houston told an area news channel that air conditioners are designed to be out in the heat, and don’t need our help. And, in fact, putting them under an umbrella can do more harm than good.

“Never cover the AC unit, as this can cause the unit to actually run harder and cool less effectively,” Matt Lopez, of Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical told Houston KPRC 2. “The hot discharged air will hit the cover and recirculate back into the coil of the unit, thus increasing the temp of the air moving across this coil which is use to remove the heat from the system.”

If anything, putting an umbrella in the wrong spot can cause your AC unit to work harder than it needs to. According to Lopez, you should leave a minimum of 18 inches around the coil of an AC unit to allow proper air flow. 

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