In general, water and electronics don’t mix. As HVAC contractors, we here at Reliable AC & Heat often get asked by homeowners if their air conditioner’s outdoor unit—the other half of a split system—is protected from the elements. In today’s post, we share a look at whether or not the elements have any effect on outdoor HVAC units.
How Do Split Air Conditioning Systems Work?
Air conditioners have three key parts: the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator. A substance called refrigerant is moved through various stages of compression to remove heat from the indoor space and release it through the outdoor unit. At one stage of the refrigeration cycle, the refrigerant reaches its supercooled state, during which it’s pumped through cooling coils in the indoor unit. Air is then blown over these coils, releasing cool air into the room. A heat pump utilizes the same refrigeration cycle in the winter, but in reverse: the refrigerant takes heat from the outdoors and releases warm air indoors.
Split air conditioners are named as such because they’re split into two units: the outdoor unit houses the compressor and condenser, while the indoor unit houses the evaporator and blower. The indoor unit may be connected to the home’s ductwork, like in whole-house systems, or may be a single unit in a “mini-split” system.
Outdoor HVAC Units & the Elements
The question remains: should you turn off your air conditioner and call your local AC maintenance services technician after it rains? The good news is, you don’t have to do this; your HVAC system’s outdoor unit is perfectly safe. If properly installed, most weather conditions won’t adversely affect your outdoor unit.
There are some conditions that outdoor HVAC units aren’t designed to withstand, such as heavy storms and flooding. To counter this, HVAC contractors first inspect the property and choose a location that has proper drainage and is less likely to be hit by high winds. Standard installation procedures also require outdoor units be bolted down or fastened to exterior walls. This helps ensure worry-free operation no matter the outdoor conditions.