How Does Rain Affect Air Conditioning?

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thinkstock-177011880 resizedIf you've ever asked yourself "does rain affect my air conditioning," the answer is simple: not under normal conditions. Central air conditioners and heat pumps use an outdoor condenser that houses a compressor, a large fan and a condensing coil. The condenser is always outside because a large part of what it does is exhaust the heat from your home by way of the refrigerant that flows through the condensing coil.

Manufacturers make these units as weatherproof as possible and rely on ample air circulation outdoors to make this heat transfer as efficient as possible. The metal case that surrounds the condenser uses weather-resistant paint to minimize the possibility of rust.

The condenser needs adequate air circulation to pull air over the condensing coil to release the heat faster, making it more efficient. Anytime the airflow is blocked by vegetation, other objects around the condenser, or if the condensing coil is dirty, the cooling process takes longer, which drives up energy consumption.

When it rains, the cooling efficiency actually increases because the rainwater helps cool the coil. There are times, however, when asking yourself "does rain affect my air conditioning," is a valid concern. Severe weather and flooding rains can put the condensing unit at risk.

If the pad on which the compressor sits is at risk of flooding or a severe electrical storm is forecast, shut the system off at the thermostat and the air conditioner's circuit breaker. Lightening strikes and power surges can disable the electronics inside your system and cause serious damage.

It's also a good idea to inspect the condenser periodically to look for oil leaks or corrosion.

To learn more about how rain affects an air conditioning unit, or for other home comfort concerns, contact the pros at McWilliams & Son Heating & Air. We've proudly provided HVAC services for Lufkin and Nacogdoches homeowners since 1974.