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How Florida’s Ocean Air Affects Your A/C (Even Inland)

Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Eric

Living here in Florida, we all know how essential a well-functioning HVAC system is for comfort. But a silent enemy may be sabotaging your HVAC system—salt.

While it’s great that no matter where you go in our state, you’re never too far from the ocean, it turns out that all the added salt in the air might be throwing a wrench into the workings of your HVAC unit.

In this article, we’ll dive into the not-so-sunny side of Central Florida living and explore the increased importance of HVAC maintenance, specifically due to the salty sea air.

When you’re soaking up the sun on Florida’s Gulf shores, you’re also surrounded by an invisible cloud of salt air. And while the sea breeze might cool you down on a hot day, ironically, it’s not as friendly to your air conditioning system. That salty sea mist has a sneaky habit of settling on metal surfaces—including your outdoor AC unit—causing corrosion and deterioration at a rate much faster than in areas further from the coast.

Understanding the Impact of Saltwater on A/C Units

How Florida's Ocean Air Affects Your A/C (Even Inland)

In the coastal parts of the U.S., salt water is known for causing corrosion and deterioration of metal objects, including your A/C units.

Aluminum, a common material used in AC units, corrodes from exposure to saltwater. (Source) The metal frame and casings can rust faster, potentially leading to damage of other essential parts such as the compressor and fan.

Corrosion can even disrupt heat transfer and air flow, reducing the efficiency of your system.

Not Just a Coastal Issue

If you’re living in Wesley Chapel, you might think, “Well, we’re not that close to Tampa Bay or The Gulf of Mexico. Should I be worried?”

Studies have shown that the effects of salt air can corrode metal between 50 to 100 miles inland (Source). Unfortunately—so to speak—in Florida, you’re never more than about 75 miles from the beach. (And that’s where the Suwannee River crosses into Georgia!)

How Florida's Ocean Air Affects Your A/C (Even Inland)

If you live in Wesley Chapel, it’s somewhere around 25 miles from The Gulf or 20 miles from Tampa Bay—only ~17 miles if you count McKay/Hillsborough Bay. And let’s not forget our neighbors over in Zephyrhills; they’re in a similar boat, so to speak.

The point is, even if you’re not exactly feeling the Gulf spray from your front porch, your Wesley Chapel air conditioning system can still be affected by all the salt particles carried in Florida’s air.

Signs of Saltwater Damage to AC Units

How Florida's Ocean Air Affects Your A/C (Even Inland)

Keep an eye out for these telltale signs of saltwater damage:

  • Decreased cooling efficiency
  • Frequent parts breakdown
  • Equipment icing or freezing
  • Corrosion and pockmarks on outdoor AC condenser units

Parts especially susceptible to saltwater damage include aluminum components, condenser coils, the compressor, fan, and the metal frame and casing. If you notice any of the signs above, it’s time to call in the HVAC professionals for an assessment.

Prevention is Key

Protecting your air conditioning from saltwater corrosion isn’t something most people think about, but if you do you’ll be ahead of the game in extending the lifespan of your HVAC system. Wesley Chapel might not exactly be on the beachfront, but remember: the damaging effects of salt air can reach up to 100 miles inland—and that definitely includes us!

With that in mind, here are some things you can do to minimize the negative effects of Florida’s salt air on your AC system:

  • Optimal Unit Location: If you live near the coast, an HVAC professional can help you position your unit in a location where it’s the least exposed to mist from the ocean.
  • Use of Rust-Resistant Materials: Consider installing AC units made with rust-resistant materials or copper coils, or having a rust-prohibitive coating professionally applied.
  • Regular Outdoor Unit Rinsing: Carefully wipe the outside of your outdoor AC unit regularly with fresh water and a washcloth to help remove salt deposits and prevent them from accumulating on your equipment.
  • Salt Mist Barriers: For those living very close to the beach, it may be possible to install physical barriers (walls/fences, tall grasses, bamboo, etc.) that will help block some ocean spray from landing directly on your units.
  • Regular A/C Inspections: Keep an eye on your outdoor condenser to catch any signs of rust/corrosion early, and schedule regular A/C inspections.
  • Routine Professional A/C Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance with a professional to ensure your A/C unit stays in good condition and is operating at peak performance and efficiency.

Routine Professional A/C Maintenance: Your Best Defense

Without a doubt, the most effective way to combat the corrosion of AC units in Florida is regular, professional AC maintenance. Experienced HVAC professionals in Wesley Chapel know exactly what signs of damage to look for, can catch early signs of corrosion, and can provide recommendations for your specific circumstances.

How Florida's Ocean Air Affects Your A/C (Even Inland)

In Florida, where saltwater corrosion is an unavoidable issue, regular A/C maintenance isn’t just a recommendation—it’s a necessity. Remember, when it comes to your air conditioning, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular maintenance will ensure your system operates efficiently, extends its lifespan, and will save you money in the long run.

For more information about A/C Maintenance and Repair in Wesley Chapel, FL: Call Redeemed Air at 813-997-3140 or click here to email us.

References

  1. Grisham, Phillip Ryan (2001). The Effects of Galvanic Corrosion on Air Conditioner Performance. Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from https://oaktrust.library.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2001-THESIS-G748
  2. Karolina Slamova, Christian Schill, Stefan Wiesmeier, Michael Köhl, Rüdiger Glaser, “Mapping atmospheric corrosion in coastal regions: methods and results,” J. Photon. Energy 2(1) 022003 (29 June 2012) https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JPE.2.022003