On June 22nd, 2023, Highlands Ranch and Littleton Colorado were hit with an EF-1 Tornado tearing down trees, fences, AC units, and more. Elizabeth, Castle Rock, Larkspur, including South Denver, were assaulted with massive hail storms creating damage across the board. When we think of potential threats to our air conditioning units, we often imagine high temperatures, power surges, or electrical malfunctions. However, one weather phenomenon that is often overlooked but can wreak havoc on AC units is hail. Hailstorms, with their icy pellets plummeting from the sky, can cause significant damage to outdoor AC units, leading to costly repairs or even complete system replacement. In this blog post, we will explore the effects of hail on AC units, discuss common types of damage, and provide tips for protecting your cooling system from this icy assault.
Understanding Hail and Its Formation:
Hail is formed within severe thunderstorms, where updrafts carry raindrops upward into extremely cold regions of the storm cloud. These raindrops freeze into ice pellets, which are repeatedly lifted and carried by updrafts, accumulating additional layers of ice. When the hailstones become too heavy for the updrafts to support, they fall to the ground, often causing widespread damage.
The Impact of Hail on AC Units:
Coil Damage: Hail can severely dent or puncture the delicate fins of the condenser and evaporator coils, which are crucial components of an air conditioning system. These coils facilitate the heat exchange process by transferring heat between the refrigerant and the surrounding air. When the coils are damaged, the efficiency of the system is compromised, resulting in reduced cooling capacity and increased energy consumption.
Fan Damage: AC units have fans that help circulate air and cool the system. Hailstones can cause significant harm to these fans, bending or breaking the blades or damaging the motor. If the fan is impaired, it can disrupt the airflow, resulting in decreased performance and potential compressor overheating.
Compressor Impact: The compressor is the heart of an AC system. When hailstones strike the compressor, they can dent or deform its outer casing, leading to operational issues. A damaged compressor may struggle to maintain proper pressure levels, resulting in reduced cooling capacity, increased energy consumption, or complete system failure.
Refrigerant Leaks: Hail can also cause small punctures or holes in the refrigerant lines of an AC unit. Refrigerant leaks not only lead to inadequate cooling but also contribute to environmental pollution. If you suspect a refrigerant leak, it is crucial to contact a professional technician to address the issue promptly.
Protecting Your AC Unit from Hail Damage:
Covering: One of the simplest ways to shield your AC unit from hail damage is to invest in a protective cover designed specifically for air conditioning systems. Ensure the cover is made of durable, weather-resistant material and fits securely around the unit. Remember to remove the cover once the hailstorm has passed to prevent airflow restriction.
Landscaping: Strategically planting trees or installing overhead canopies can offer natural protection to your AC unit. These elements can help minimize the impact of hailstones by acting as a barrier between the sky and your cooling system. However, it’s essential to maintain proper clearance to ensure unobstructed airflow around the unit.
Early Warning Systems: Keeping an eye on weather forecasts can give you valuable time to take preventive measures before a hailstorm hits. Stay informed through weather apps, local news channels, or weather alert systems that provide timely notifications.
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