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Are Window Air Conditioners Waterproof? (how to keep them safe)

If you live in an area with a wet season or one that experiences a lot of rain, you may wonder if rain and inclement weather can damage your window air conditioner. After all, there are many electric components within the unit, and it is only normal to assume that water could affect their function or the safety of the air conditioner.

Window air conditioners are constructed to withstand all weather conditions. Water from heavy rain will not damage the unit since the electronic components are sealed in a weatherproof compartment. The air conditioner can be left out in all cases except when there is a chance of floodwater reaching the unit.

While it is not advised to spray liquids on your ac unit for cleaning purposes, the truth is that your window air conditioner is constructed to be durable and withstand many inclement weather conditions. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how your air conditioner is waterproof and how you can keep your unit safe.

Window AC Units Are Waterproof

Your window air conditioner is built to hold up against weather patterns. Simply stated, rain is not harmful to your air conditioning unit.

Of course, there are certain conditions that require more upkeep and maintenance, but this is usually only for areas that experience more severe or extreme weather conditions.

For example, in areas that are prone to floodin, if your unit is close enough to the ground, you may have to be prepared for heavy storms that bring floodwaters.

Seven common warnings involving window air conditioning units and their contact with water are:

  1. “Do not operate with wet hands or in a damp environment”
  2. “Do not allow water to run into electrical parts”
  3. “Do not clean the air conditioner with water or spray bottle”
  4. “Do not operate your air conditioner in a wet room such as a bathroom or laundry room”
  5. “Stop operation and close the window during a storm or hurricane”
  6. “Before cleaning and maintenance be sure to power is turned off and plug is disconnected.”
  7. “Inspect brackets frequently to ensure no damages occurred due to prolong exposure to the elements.”
Frost King ACBNT2 No Tools Tubular Air Conditioner Bracket

The good news is that typical seasonal weather patterns do not negatively impact your unit. Quite honestly, a little rain can help to remove any debris or unwanted objects that have found their way in or on your AC unit.

Though many of the components that are used in the construction of your air conditioning unit are electrical, they are well protected. For example, the electrical wiring is well-insulated to withstand wet and rainy conditions.

Of course, there are a few things that anyone using a window air conditioner unit should keep in mind, especially if they are installing and/or maintaining the units themselves.

First and foremost, you want to ensure that the interior of your home is well-protected. Poorly installed units can allow water to enter your home through the edges, which can cause damage. Your AC unit’s efficiency is also dependent on if the unit has been properly sealed.

Should the Window AC Unit Be Removed During Thunderstorms

While even heavier rain is usually harmless to your AC unit, other weather conditions can cause damage to your window air conditioner.

Flooding or any storm that can cause your unit to be submerged in water can result in a short circuit. Heavy winds that cause objects and debris to fly or fall can also pose a risk to your unit.

Another concern during thunderstorms is lightning, which can affect your unit. Therefore, when installed, your AC unit should be adequately grounded – this is absolutely essential to the safety of your unit and your safety as well. Grounding is the greatest form of protection against lightning for you, your unit, and your home.

Your window air conditioner is made with materials that protect it and its electrical components from rainwater, so it is generally not advised to remove the unit during a thunderstorm. There are possible negative outcomes to removing the unit. It can be damaged, you can damage your window, or you may hurt yourself in the process – especially if you did not install it yourself and aren’t familiar with the process.

The best thing to do for your window air conditioner during a thunderstorm is to prepare it. This includes ensuring that it is properly sealed so that water does not seep into your home. Also, it is advisable to unplug and/or power off the unit whenever there is a chance for lightning.

Most importantly, proper grounding is your AC unit’s most significant defense against the elements of a thunderstorm. Once the storm is over, be sure to inspect the unit for any damage it may have incurred from wind, flowing, or other elements. However, the rain will not cause any damage.

Window AC units Must be Tilted Away From the Building

When installing a window air conditioning unit, it may be necessary to slightly tilt it away from your home or building. This is usually necessary to ensure that condensation or any other collected water does not affect your home.

Sometimes, the condensation from the drip pan can leak into your home, creating puddles. Most installation manuals suggest that your “air conditioner is tilted back about ¼ to ½ inches.”

Window Air Conditioner Tilt

Tilting your unit keeps water from entering your home. Some newer units do not require a tilt, but it is essential to check the installation manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Various newer units can be installed without a tilt because the manufacturer has already built the unit’s drip pan at a slight angle.

Read also: Are Air Conditioners Eco-friendly

Is It Necessary to Cover/Remove the AC Unit For The Winter

Once the weather begins to turn, some people remove or cover their window units until the following summer, while others leave them as is. Is one way better than the other? Is it necessary to cover or remove the unit?

Not at all, but it may be a better option considering any unique situation.

Some window air conditioning units may not have been adequately sealed or will let a draft in from time to time.

An easy way to fix an air conditioner that is not sealed properly against the window frame is to use expanding weatherstripping(amazon link). It will seal even the largest uneven gaps between the unit and the window. This kind of sealing tape is far superior to the traditional weatherstripping tape since it will conform to the gap and will seal the draft completely.

Emseal AST/MST Acrylic Sealant Tape 1"x1"x13'

If you live in an area where the temperature drops very low during the winter and the connection between the AC unit and the window is not 100% airproof, removing your ac unit may be the best option.

It will lower your energy bill and keep and any water from seeping through from winter storms.

To avoid injury or damage to your unit, it is best to hire a professional to remove it from your window or enlist the help of another person. Also, many installation manuals suggest that you “cover (the unit) with plastic or return it to the original carton” to ward off dust.

If you prefer to cover your unit, be sure to check with the manufacturer’s guide to ensure that you are covering it as instructed. Some manuals will advise you to leave the unit uncovered to allow the natural airflow to dry any water that comes into contact with your unit. If your unit’s manufacturer suggests covering the unit, be sure to remove any existing water or moisture. Leaving any trapped water in the unit can lead to mold growth while it is covered.

Of course, if you prefer to leave your unit uncovered and in your window, it is unnecessary to remove or cover it. However, it is important to periodically remove any debris that finds its way to your window air conditioner.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you don’t plan on using your air conditioner for an extended period of time:

  • “Unplug from power source if unit is not to be used for a long time.”
  • “Do not use the power cord to turn the unit on or off.” – use the power switch.

Do Window Air Conditioners Need Any Protection From the Elements?

The good news is that window-mounted air conditioning units are made to withstand weather elements. Most are made with corrosion-resistant materials and painted with powder-based paint that resists rusting. However, your unit is subject to picking up dust, leaves, and other debris, as well as the sun. The heat from the sun can cause mechanical components within the unit to heat up, making them work harder to cool your home.

If possible, keep your window AC unit in a window that doesn’t receive direct sunlight or is subject to high winds. If you have a window that doesn’t receive any shade, installing an awning over the AC unit is an easy, non-permanent solution. If you have your unit routinely serviced, ask the technician to ensure that the internal parts are adequately lubricated. This helps maintain the integrity of the unit from the sun.

Sometimes choosing the window in which you install the unit is also dependent on what your HOA will agree to because window ACs are a thorny issue with them.

If you live near a body of saltwater, it is essential to cover the AC unit when you aren’t using it. The salt from the water can corrode the steel. The salt that gets carried through the air can also affect internal components.

The Bottom Line

Though your window air conditioning unit is subject to many different weather elements throughout the year, it is essentially waterproof. However, it is crucial to understand that the inside of the unit should never be cleaned as this can damage components within the unit – most of which are electrical. Consider any unique weather situations where you live and choose how to maintain your unit accordingly.

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