4 Things That Can Damage Your Exterior AC Unit

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It’s easy to ignore your HVAC unit. Outside of replacing the air filter, it may seem like you don’t have to do much to keep your exterior air conditioner running. But this system is exposed to lots of risks, and it’s entirely possible for a problem — one that could easily have been prevented with routine maintenance — to totally disable the system. These are a few different ways an outdoor AC unit can get damaged.




Image via Flickr by scubadive67


Since your exterior AC unit is outside, it’s at risk of being crushed by falling debris. Though the unit is protected by its casing, some parts are particularly vulnerable. The exhaust fans, for example, can be damaged by debris from trees, and the coils can similarly be flattened. These problems may not disable the unit entirely, though. In some cases, the system simply won’t run as well because the damage has restricted the air flow or otherwise affected the air conditioner’s efficiency.


When this happens, you’ll notice issues like the unit taking longer to cool the home. You’ll also discover higher utility bills as the system must now work harder to reach the desired temperature. You can prevent this problem to a degree by keeping the trees trimmed and watching for yard debris that could be blown toward and damage the unit.

Regular maintenance is another way to mitigate this type of damage. Especially before the peak season, a checkup of your system can prevent seasonal HVAC problems such as refrigerant leaks and worn-out belts. Your HVAC technician can also help identify debris in your yard that could damage the system.


Overgrowth Near the Unit

Lawncare is also essential to keeping an outdoor unit running well. Overgrowth can make it hard for the system to run and more difficult for a technician to access the unit for checkups and repairs. Just be cautious when mowing near the air conditioner. Lawnmowers can throw grass and dirt in the air, and some of that debris can wind up in your HVAC unit.


You can use a hose and light water pressure to clean off the surface of the unit. A technician can help with more intensive cleanings.



Rust is the natural result of any material containing iron being exposed to oxygen and moisture for a long period of time. Since your AC is outdoors, it’s at risk of rust formation.

This is especially true for the inside component since it’s easier for moisture to become trapped inside. If it’s newly formed, you have time to remove rust. A technician can help with more serious repairs.


Wear and Tear

It’s natural for your outdoor AC unit to experience some damage over time from basic use. Especially if you live in a warm climate, you’re likely running your air conditioner 24/7 during seasonal peaks. Some parts will wear down simply from heavy use. Again, routine maintenance checks can confirm whether any components are worn-out and need to be replaced before they cause a severe, expensive problem with the HVAC system.


Outdoor units are exposed to unique risks. Maintain your AC and get professional help when needed to keep your HVAC system in top shape.




  1. This is a helpful article. I often think about the outside unit exposed to the elements. I will be taking out a maintenance agreement on my A/C also so I can always get it inspected.

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