With the rainy season upon us, you may find yourself wondering if there is anything you should be doing to protect your AC unit from the elements. Although most AC units are built to withstand the elements, there are some aspects of extreme weather to be aware of. To help you understand the effects of rain on your AC unit, the pros at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing are here to share some tips for these April showers.
Know Your Outdoor Unit
When considering how rain might affect your AC unit, you should focus on the parts of your system that have the most direct exposure to the elements. Since the most common AC system features an indoor and outdoor unit, we recommend turning your attention to your outdoor unit.
Familiarize yourself with the following parts of your outdoor unit:
- Condenser Coil and Fan
Once your indoor unit’s evaporator coil has absorbed and cooled the air, the residual warm refrigerant gas is carried outside into the condenser coils. With air blown over these coils, the refrigerant inside loses heat. The component that provides this cool air Inside your condenser unit is the fan.
As the refrigerant is moved from your indoor unit to your outdoor unit, the compressor has the job of regulating the pressure of the refrigerant to keep the liquid refrigerant moving along.
Along with these essential parts, there are many electrical components to your outdoor AC unit that must work together for your entire system to run smoothly.
Here are the main electrical components you should be aware of:
- Fuse Box or Disconnect
Usually, this box is within reach of your outdoor condenser unit. While a fuse box should have a way of protecting the circuit for the condenser, a disconnect box must be fused or have some sort of trip protection.
In most residential AC systems, the control wire originates at the thermostat. Controlling all the relays and contractors in the AC, this wiring runs through any safety or limits in the condenser.
- Safety Switches
In most condensers, there are high-pressure refrigeration switches that will trip the system in the event of extreme high-pressure refrigeration levels. Also included in some condensers are low-pressure switches and delay switches to prevent the condenser from short cycling.
- Condenser Fan Motor
Last but certainly not least is the fan motor. This is the part of your condenser that operates the fan to cool the refrigerant as it passes over the condenser coils.
How Rain Affects these Outdoor Unit Parts
Although most of these outdoor unit parts consist of aluminum, copper, or metal to withstand heavy rain, there are problems that can arise from the elements that accompany the rain.
Here are some rainy weather-related AC problems to be aware of:
- High Winds
Often accompanying heavy rainstorms are high winds. Not only can high winds throw dangerous projectiles at your outdoor unit, but they can also blow leaves, twigs, branches, dirt, and other debris into your unit, causing damaging blockages and clogs. If winds are strong enough to project heavier debris, your fan blades are at risk of serious damage.
- Standing Water and Flooding
In many extreme cases of heavy rainfall, flooding can become a very real issue. If water stands for any period of time, it can damage moving parts inside your condenser. This includes vital components like the fan motor, wiring, coils, and safety switches. Furthermore, floodwaters under your home that enter your basement can easily infiltrate your furnace heat exchanger or blower compartment. As a result, you could be faced with a very hazardous situation and a system that is out of commission until a professional can inspect and repair it.
- Internal Corrosion
Another result of rain damage and standing water can be internal corrosion. If this standing water penetrates your AC unit, the wires and rubber parts can begin to rot. Furthermore, the metal components can start to rust and corrode.
Tips to Protect Your AC Unit from Rain Damage
- Wrap your unit during the off-season.
If you wrap your unit in the off-season, we recommend choosing a cover with ventilation holes. Because the buildup of moisture and condensation leads to more water damage, opt for a ventilated cover.
- Keep your condenser unit debris-free.
As we previously explained, high winds can blow debris into your unit, causing damage and harmful blockages. Therefore, you should perform a thorough cleanup regularly, especially after heavy storms, to keep debris from blocking your outdoor condenser.
- Ensure the concrete base under your unit is the proper height.
To protect your AC system from flood damage, make sure your unit is on a concrete base at an adequate height above the ground. Depending on your local 100-year flood level, your base can be several feet tall. We recommend consulting with an HVAC contractor to determine the most functional height for the base.
- Build a wall around your condenser unit.
Another option to protect your AC system from flood water is building a wall around your condenser unit. With the help of your HVAC contractor, you can design an enclosed structure around your condenser unit. This will help prevent floodwater damage.
For the Best Protection Against the Effects of Rain on Your AC Unit…
Let Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing lend a hand! Our team of HVAC experts has years of experience helping homeowners find the best solutions. If you are ready to tackle your HVAC needs with a pro you can trust, call us or fill out a service request form on our website!