Should You Cover Your Air Conditioner When It Rains?

In the midst of a mid-summer rain deluge, you may glance out the window at your air conditioner unit and wonder if you should run out there and cover it to protect it from the storm. That gets you to thinking if it’s a smart idea to cover it every time it rains.

The short answer is no. Outdoor A/C units are tough, built with a sturdy metal shell housing two distinct components: the indoor evaporator coil located inside your furnace and condenser/compressor located outside. The outdoor portion of the unit is specifically designed to stand up to the elements including wind, hail, rain, and snow; and even heavy rainfall will not cause damage. Flooding, of course, is a different story for another time. A submerged outdoor air conditioner unit will likely not be operable again.

To cover or not to cover

Unless you live in an extremely harsh climate or are in the path of a raucous hurricane, your air conditioner does not need any special protection. Rain is actually not harmful to an A/C unit and in fact, a little rain can have a positive impact by helping to remove any wayward vegetation or other debris that became lodged inside. If you do choose to cover the unit, be sure the cover has small, dispersed openings to allow air to circulate and prevent trapped moisture from damaging internal parts. And remember to never cover the condenser/compressor if there is any chance the unit will be used.

Another common question is if it is okay to keep using an air conditioner in the middle of a rain storm and yes, it is. Provided the system is in good working condition, rain will not cause any damage. It is also okay to spray out the unit with a hose to get rid of leaves and such, and you can do so without worry of damaging the outdoor electrical components.

What about window units?

Window A/C units are also designed to withstand harsh weather but there are some extra details to keep in mind. First on the list is ensuring the seams around the unit are fully sealed so no water seeps into the house. To that end, always be sure a window A/C unit is properly sealed with efficient insulation, even if you remove the unit in winter. Insulation also does a good job in keeping sultry summer humidity from sneaking in through a window unit’s seams.

Questions on air conditioner protection? Contact Cascade Mechanical at (509) 642-6383.