Does Rain Affect Air Conditioners, or Are They Fine Unprotected?

rain on air conditioner

Naples is no stranger to powerful storms. Between hurricane season, tropical storms, and heavy summer showers, it’s not unusual to look out the window to see pouring rain. If you worry about your outdoor AC equipment in all that rain, you’re not alone.

Here’s what you need to know about how storms could affect your air conditioner’s performance.

What Happens to Your Air Conditioner When It Rains?

Mostly, nothing! Central AC units are built to withstand the great outdoors, including the occasional rainstorm. Our HVAC technicians recommend and install AC units that are made with Naples’ seasonal weather in mind. Just like we’d install a unit built to withstand snow up north, in Vineyards, Bonita Springs, Orangetree, and other cities in the area, we install ACs made for muggy salt air and frequent heavy rains.

What Is (And Isn’t) a Problem When It Rains

In Naples, your biggest problem is flooding during heavy rains, hurricanes, and tropical storms. Air conditioners also can’t withstand floodwaters or standing water over 15 inches, which can damage or completely destroy the unit. If your yard floods during a storm, call for emergency repairs to get your air conditioner up and running. You don’t have to worry about your AC getting wet in regular rain: all electrical components are protected from water. Everything else is made from durable materials that stand up to the test of time and weather.

When it’s safe to be outside, keep your outdoor unit clear of leaves, sticks, and other debris that could wash or blow into your AC during a storm. Your air conditioner needs proper airflow to work efficiently and avoid frozen coils. Debris can clog the grates on your unit, preventing airflow and leading to a struggling AC or ice on the unit.

But My Air Conditioner Does Act Up When It Rains!

When things don’t work as they should, rain might make an underlying issue more obvious or exacerbate an existing problem. Here are a few things you might notice in the rain (and whether you need to be worried).

Your Air Conditioner Freezes When It Rains

An air conditioner freezing over indicates that either it’s low on refrigerant or warm air isn’t flowing over the coils correctly. Since rain can cool off your coils, it’s possible that your AC freezes in the rain because the warm return air doesn’t have a chance to warm up the refrigerant in the lines. Professional coil-cleaning AC maintenance can keep coils working their best. Clean coils shouldn’t freeze, even in cool rain.

You may also have a refrigerant leak. Rain can make this problem more evident by providing something for the refrigerant to freeze. If your frozen coils are accompanied by a sweet chemical smell, call for emergency HVAC service. It’s likely you have a refrigerant leak, which needs to be handled by an HVAC professional.

Will Rain Damage a Window Air Conditioner?

As long as the window AC is working correctly, the rain will not damage it. Just like a central AC outdoor unit, window air conditioners are designed to be exposed to the elements.

However, if your window air conditioner is full of water after rain, you have a drainage issue. There shouldn’t be any standing water in your AC after a rainstorm, since standing water can damage internal components in a way normal rainfall doesn’t. Check for a blocked drain hole and make sure the unit is tilted slightly backward in the window to let the water drain out.

Water Shouldn’t Be in Your Air Conditioner or Vents

You may notice water dripping from your AC vents when it rains. First, check your air filter. A dirty filter can cause water to flow where it shouldn’t, including condensation from humidity. In the humid air of Naples, it’s also possible that the drainage line on your outdoor unit is blocked. A blocked drain can lead to water backing up into your outdoor unit. A professional can flush your drain line to keep things clear and prevent water backup.

For a window unit, make sure the side panels extend all the way to the sides of the windows. You can seal any gaps with silicone caulk or a weather seal to prevent leaks.

How to Protect Your Outdoor AC Unit from the Elements

While your air conditioner shouldn’t need extra protection under normal circumstances, there are ways to minimize the risk of damage from rain and other forces of nature:

  • Install a hurricane pad. These concrete slabs raise your air conditioner off the ground, preventing some flooding and providing a tie-down point against high winds.
  • Apply coil protectant. An HVAC pro can apply an anti-corrosive spray to your air conditioner’s coils to reduce the corrosion from salt air.
  • Add a rain shield. Getting a partial rain shield for your air conditioner can help keep water out of the unit, but you should never fully cover your AC. Doing that can prevent airflow, damaging your AC and causing it to work inefficiently.
  • Turn off power during a storm. Turning your air conditioner off during a major thunderstorm lowers the risk of a power surge damaging your HVAC. Turn it off at both your thermostat and at the breaker to minimize the risk during intense storms.

Having Issues? Call Today for Professional Naples, FL Air Conditioner Repair

If your air conditioner stopped working after a rainstorm, give us a call. The experienced technicians at One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Naples can repair or replace an air conditioner damaged by harsh weather. Call (239) 237-3360 or book online today.


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