How Rainfall Affects Your AC System

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If you're like most homeowners, then you've occasionally wondered about the effects that rain has on your air conditioning system. You may even be worried about heavy downpours damaging your AC unit. Fortunately, you can put your fears to rest and even learn something new about your AC system thanks to the helpful information discussed below.

Rain Won't Directly Harm Your AC System

Standing outside in the middle of a torrential downpour can leave you with a nasty cold, if you're not careful. Your AC unit, on the other hand, is better protected against what Mother Nature throws at it.

Air conditioners are destined to live a harsh life in the great outdoors, especially split and packaged AC units. The good news is that the portions of your AC that are exposed to the elements are specifically designed just for that duty. All of the internal components residing within the outdoor cabinet—including the condenser coil and compressor—can withstand rainfall, even under extreme storm conditions. Electrical connections are also sealed to prevent water intrusion stemming from heavy rainfall.

With these and other components inside your AC system effectively weatherproofed, you won't have to worry about heavy rains and how they could impact your unit.

Rainfall Can Improve AC Performance

AC systems rely on their condenser coils to release heat harvested from indoor air. These coils regularly pick up dirt, dust, and debris carried by the outdoor air that flows through the coil. Over time, the coil can get so packed with dirt that the entire AC system stops working and, in many cases, freezes over due to the interruption in heat transfer.

A bout of heavy rain could be just what your AC system needs to maintain its stellar performance. As it rains, the precipitation washes away the dust and debris from the coils. Cleaner condenser coils release heat more rapidly, resulting in better AC performance and more efficient cooling for your home.

If there's no rain in the weather forecast, you can also hose down the condenser coil on your own. A hands-on cleaning also gives you an opportunity to trim away vegetation and ensure the components inside your outdoor cabinet receive enough airflow to function properly.

Rainfall Can Lead to Excess Moisture Issues

Too much of anything can be a bad thing for your AC system, even something as natural as rainfall. Heavy rainfall sustained over hours or even days can saturate the ground and create excess moisture. Excess moisture can migrate into building structures and HVAC systems, potentially setting the stage for increased mold growth, reduced indoor air quality, and constant dampness that proves too uncomfortable to bear for some.

The good news is that your AC system plays a critical role in reducing excess moisture. As the AC unit extracts heat from the passing air, it also condenses trapped water vapor into a liquid. The liquid drains into a drip tray located underneath the evaporator coil, where it then drains to the outdoors or through a nearby sewer drain. With your AC system able to remove some excess moisture, making your home feel less humid is simply a matter of turning on the AC.

Flooding Poses Unique Dangers for AC Systems

AC systems may be invulnerable to rainfall, but flooding can still do a number on your HVAC equipment. Severe floods brought on by heavy rainfall can inundate your outdoor cabinet, leaving the unit partially or entirely submerged for long periods. When this happens, rust sets in and takes hold of metal components, resulting in serious damage to your cooling system along with the time and hassle that comes with prematurely replacing your equipment.

You can minimize potential flood damage by turning off the AC system at the thermostat as well as the circuit breaker. Taking these precautions ahead of severe flooding can help protect the unit against lightning strikes and power surges. Once water levels are back to normal, have your HVAC contractor survey the damage and see if any components need replacement prior to turning the unit back on.

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18 March 2019

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