Corpus Christi’s storm season rolls in, and the forecast calls for rain. Will your air conditioner be safe from high winds, heavy rain, and even lightning strikes? Learn more about what can happen to your AC when the weather gets rough, how to protect your unit, and what to do when Mother Nature takes its toll.
Is It Safe to Use AC During Rain?
Yes! During a normal rainstorm, it’s perfectly safe to leave your air conditioner running, combatting the warm, muggy air outside. Your outdoor condenser unit is made to withstand normal weather like rainstorms. You can leave the AC on through everything from a light drizzle to a downpour.
When the rain gets heavy enough to reach flood conditions, however, you start to see a problem. Air conditioners can flood and “die” in 15 inches or more of water. Since Corpus Christi is in the path of yearly hurricanes and tropical storms, flooding is far more likely here than it is for inland cities. Turn off power to your AC if you’re in a flood warning area; the high water could short your air conditioner, leaving a dangerous electrical hazard.
Should I Turn Off My AC During a Thunderstorm?
When thunder and lightning get thrown into the mix, it’s safest to turn off your AC while you ride out the storm. Air conditioners are most likely to be severely damaged by a direct lightning strike to your home. However rare they are, they can completely fry your AC. Turning it off (which makes sure electrical circuits aren’t complete and conducting electricity) can help protect your unit from the worst of the damage.
Turning off your air conditioner also protects it from power surges, which are much more common than a direct hit from a lightning bolt.
The Problems a Storm in Corpus Christi Can Cause for Your AC
If your air conditioner is leaking water after rain, is that something to be concerned about? If it’s just water dripping from the outdoor unit, no. But if you see serious flow out of the condenser, your drain line may be clogged and need clearing. If the water’s coming from your indoor vents, there are a few possible problems, such as a leaky roof or exhaust fan or condensation in your HVAC ducts. Either way, a quick maintenance inspection can tell your if the problem lies with your HVAC system.
You may not see water flowing, but you may notice that your central or window AC sounds like water after rain. The same draining or leaking issues cause the sound of water, so an expert can resolve the problem the same way.
After a storm with high winds, it’s a good idea to check over your AC for signs that it was damaged by flying debris. If you see signs of broken parts, or hear rattling or banging from your air conditioner, call a technician for repairs.
Protecting Your Air Conditioner From an Oncoming Storm
The best way to treat air conditioner damage is to prevent it! Here’s how to protect your AC’s outdoor unit from rain, wind, and lightning:
- Turn off your AC during flood warnings and thunderstorms.
- Leave the AC off and call for emergency repairs if floodwaters reach above 15 inches.
- Use an air conditioner debris screen to block leaves, sticks, and other items from clogging your condenser.
- Hire an electrician to install an air conditioner surge protector (or whole-home surge protection).
- Clear debris from around your condenser after the storm has passed.
- Anchor your outdoor unit to a heavy hurricane pad to protect against high winds.
- Have a professional apply coil protectant, to protect metal parts from corrosion in the salty air.