How Severe Weather Can Affect Your Air Conditioner

When summer hits its peak, your AC may work extra hard to keep your Charleston home cool and comfortable. While plenty of summer days are warm and beautiful, most areas of the country are no stranger to extreme weather. Stormy conditions, and even days with extreme heat and humidity, can affect your air conditioner’s performance, efficiency and the length of its working life. Explore the many ways weather can influence your air conditioner and how to protect it.

Impact of Weather on Your Air Conditioner


Various weather conditions affect how well your air conditioning unit performs. On especially hot days, the AC has to work harder to attain and hold the set temperature. The increased workload might lead to an overburdened system, causing a breakdown.

Excessive humidity also presents a challenge. While air conditioners are made26 to dehumidify the air as they cool it, excessive humidity can strain the system. This may result in diminished performance and a home that your AC isn't able to cool as well.


Heat waves force your air conditioner to run constantly, causing a spike in energy bills. If a home’s HVAC system is not designed or set up properly, it may not be able to meet the cooling demand under these conditions.

Alternatively, the condensing unit is in jeopardy if operated in subfreezing conditions. Attempting to operate the air conditioning when the outdoor unit is covered in ice can damage the compressor, reducing efficiency and possibly wrecking your cooling system.

Weather-Induced Damage

Significant rain, wind, hail or snow can inflict damage on your outdoor AC unit. Debris from storms can prevent airflow, reduce system efficiency or hammer away at the metal. If water floods the system, corrosion or short-circuiting may occur, shortening the life span of your unit.

The outdoor AC unit is sensitive to severe weather, but you can take precautions to protect it. Here’s how to protect your air conditioner from harsh incoming weather:

  • Install your air conditioner in the shade: A shaded outdoor unit doesn’t have to work as hard, increasing efficiency and prolonging the unit’s life span. If possible, place the AC on the north or east side of your home or somewhere else shaded during the hot afternoon.
  • Invest in an air conditioner cover: AC covers are a protective shield. During the cooler months or when severe weather is forecast, consider covering your air conditioner to protect it from flying debris, falling ice and significant snowfall. However, make sure you don’t attempt to run the air conditioner while the outdoor unit is covered.
  • Maintain your HVAC system regularly: Scheduled maintenance is a simple and easy measure to enhance your AC unit’s durability. After all, an efficient air conditioner is less likely to buckle under the stress of high temperatures or humidity. Regular cleaning, filter replacement and timely inspections ensure your system stays in top-notch condition and is ready to deal with any weather.
  • Install a surge protector: Power surges are a common consequence of storms that can damage your AC unit’s electrical hardware. Installing a surge protector adds another layer of defense. As an alternative, you can easily turn off your air conditioning during severe weather by flipping the circuit breaker.
  • Secure and elevate your outdoor unit: Strong winds can cause the outdoor cooling unit to topple or move. Also, rising water can cover the internal parts. Be sure your outdoor unit is completely secured and elevated on bricks or platforms designed to protect it from wind and water damage.
  • Clear your yard of debris: Make sure to keep the space around your air conditioner clear of loose things that could become harmful projectiles. This helps protect against denting and other physical damage during severe weather.

Checking on Your AC After a Storm

In the aftermath of extreme weather, follow these steps to make sure your air conditioner is able to continue to operate safety:

  • Conduct a visual inspection: When the sky clears, go outside and examine your unit. Look for issues108 such as dents, exposed wires or an off-kilter base.
  • Clear debris: Clean off any leaves, sticks and other debris to improve airflow and efficiency.
  • Check for water damage: If your area suffered flooding, examine your HVAC equipment for water damage. If you suspect water got into the unit, it’s always better not to turn it on until you have it professionally inspected.
  • Schedule a prompt repair: In the case of storm damage, don’t delay air conditioning repair, or you risk high energy costs, a reduced life span or total system failure.

Contact Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

No one wants to feel the impact of severe weather, but it’s crucial to be prepared and understand how to recover. At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, we offer post-storm inspections and repairs to ensure your air conditioning system runs safely and efficiently. Our professionals can handle all your AC service needs in Charleston, including maintenance, repair and replacement. Don’t let severe weather impact your home's comfort—contact a Service Experts office near you for more information or to schedule a visit today.

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