How Severe Weather Can Affect Your Air Conditioner

When summer hits its peak, your AC may work extra hard to keep your Knoxville home cool and comfortable. While plenty of summer days are warm and beautiful, you may be no stranger to extreme weather. Stormy conditions, and even days with significant heat and humidity, can affect your air conditioner’s performance, efficiency and life span. Learn about the many ways weather can affect your air conditioner and how to protect it.

Impact of Weather on Your Air Conditioner


Various weather conditions can alter how well your air conditioning unit works. On particularly hot days, the AC has to work harder to maintain the set temperature. The larger workload might lead to an overloaded system, causing a breakdown.

Extreme humidity also presents a challenge. Even though air conditioners are made26 to dehumidify the air as they cool it, excessive humidity can put stress on the system. This can result in reduced performance and a home that isn't as comfortable.


Periods of very hot weather force your air conditioner to run continuously, resulting in a spike in energy bills. If the system is not designed or put in in the correct way, it may not be able to meet the cooling demand under these conditions.

In contrast, the condensing unit is at risk if operated in subfreezing conditions. Attempting to run the AC when the outdoor unit is covered in ice could damage the compressor, limiting efficiency and possibly ruining your cooling system.

Weather-Induced Damage

Substantial rain, wind, hail or snow can damage a home's outdoor AC unit. Debris from storms can block airflow, reduce system efficiency or damage the metal. Should water flood the system, corrosion or short-circuiting may occur, shortening the lifetime of your air conditioning.

The outdoor AC unit is sensitive to dangerous weather, but you can take precautions to secure it. Here’s how to shield your air conditioner from damaging incoming weather:

  • Install your air conditioner in the shade: A shaded outdoor unit doesn’t have to work as vigorously, increasing efficiency and extending the unit’s life span. If possible, place the air conditioning unit 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 work as a protective shield. During the off-season 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 turn on the air conditioner while the outdoor unit is covered.
  • Maintain your HVAC system regularly: Performing regular maintenance is a simple and easy measure to enhance your AC unit’s operating efficiency. After all, a tuned-up air conditioner is less likely to buckle under the stress of elevated temperatures or humidity. Regular cleaning, filter replacement and comprehensive inspections ensure your system continues to be in top-notch condition and is ready to face any weather.
  • Install a surge protector: Power surges are a common result of storms that can damage your AC unit’s electrical elements. Installing a surge protector adds an additional form of defense. On the other hand, you could 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 fall over or move. Similarly, rising water can flood the internal elements. Ensure your outdoor unit is completely secured and raised 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 very bad weather, follow these steps to ensure your air conditioner is able to continue to run safety:

  • Conduct a visual inspection: When the sky clears, go outdoors and examine your unit. Check for issues108 such as dents, exposed wires or an off-kilter base.
  • Clear debris: Get rid of any leaves, branches and other debris to maximize airflow and efficiency.
  • Inspect for water damage: If your neighborhood has experienced flooding, look for water damage. If you suspect water entered the unit, it’s best not to turn it on until you have it professionally evaluated.
  • Schedule a quick repair: In the case of storm damage, don’t put off air conditioning repair, or you risk high energy expenses, a reduced life span or total system failure.

Contact Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

No one wants to deal with severe weather, but it’s critical to be prepared and recognize how to recover. At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, we offer post-storm inspections and repairs to ensure your HVAC system operates safely and efficiently. Our professionals can handle all your AC service needs in Knoxville, including maintenance, repair and replacement. Don’t let severe weather alter your home's comfort—reach out to a Service Experts office near you for more information or to schedule a visit today.

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