With all the recent rain we’ve had in California now is a good time to discuss the effects of rain on HVAC systems. A split HVAC system is made up by two components the indoor air handler/evaporator and the outdoor condenser and compressor. The outdoor HVAC unit is built to withstand rain. However, if your unit is in need of service during extreme weather you may have to wait a bit longer for a service technician to come out and look at your system. This is especially true, if your HVAC unit is located on the roof.
Does Rain Affect the Air Conditioner?
The outdoor part of an HVAC system is built durably and designed to withstand exposure to rainfall and the outdoor elements throughout the varying seasons of the year. Most of the parts in the outdoor unit are made from aluminum, copper or metal, and the electrical components are sealed to keep them protected from rainfall. Therefore, rain will not cause any harm to the outdoor unit and it is safe to turn your air conditioner or furnace on.
What Can Cause Damage to the HVAC System?
However, keep in mind that extreme weather can cause harm to your HVAC system. Although, rain itself will not cause damage to the outdoor unit, the storm that accompanies the rain can. Any high winds can cause tree branches to fall and cause damage to the condenser grill or deposit leaves and other debris inside of the unit. Furthermore, a lightning storm can cause a power surge that can damage the compressor outdoors. During a lightning storm it would be best to turn the ac unit off at the breaker. While, the outdoor unit is able to withstand rainfall, it is not designed to stay submerged in standing water. If the outdoor unit becomes submerged, the wiring and other electrical components inside can be damaged. The outdoor unit must be dried out completely before you turn it back on. It is a good idea to have a professional HVAC company inspect your unit after any severe storms to protect your equipment’s life span.
Roof Leaks During Heavy Rainfall
Any roof leaks during rainfall can go unnoticed for some time. Any ongoing leaks have the potential of entering the HVAC ductwork. Ductwork is not usually waterproof. Furthermore, any water that enters the ductwork has the potential of staying there long after the rains have stopped. The water that remains can deteriorate the ductwork and cause mold inside the ducts. Not only will a roof leak cause damage to the ducts, but also to the attic insulation. Any damage to the insulation can cause your furnace and air conditioner to run longer cycles to compensate for increased heat transfer into and out of the attic.
Should Your Outdoor Unit Be Covered?
The outdoor unit has been built to withstand extreme temperatures and any moisture so it is not typically a good idea to cover it since it can cause more harm than good. Any trapped moisture can collect in the cover and lead to corrosion or other damage to the unit. Furthermore, never stack anything on top of the unit, especially when it is on. The outdoor unit needs proper airflow to effectively and efficiently operate.
Can the HVAC System Be Serviced In The Rain?
The general rule is that an HVAC technician will not service the outdoor unit in the rain if the weather is bad enough. Especially in cases where the unit is on the roof. Always check with the service company first.
Give us a call today if you need to schedule service or maintenance or if you have any questions and we would be more than happy to assist you. You can reach us at (818) 341-3406 or online.
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