Spraying water on the air conditioner is a technique many homeowners use to keep the AC unit clean and improve its functionality. Spraying water washes away debris, leaving your HVAC system sparkling. This alone can be vital in prolonging the life of your machine and for energy efficiency.
However, what about the risks? Isn’t there a risk of electrocution, for instance? Would a strong water stream damage some of the air conditioner components? These are just some of the questions that may come to mind if you’re spraying water on your air conditioner for the first time.
Below, we discuss the pros and cons of spraying your AC with water while it’s running. Is it even safe? Read on to find out.
Is it Okay to Spray Water on your Air Conditioner While Running?
To really answer the question, Yes, it’s perfectly ok to spray water on your air conditioner while it’s running. Spraying it with liquid water removes debris, and dirt particles and thus can help the air conditioner run more efficiently. It also reduces the risk of air conditioner overheating as it lowers the temperature of the surroundings and cleans the HVAC system for purposes of hygiene.
How Air Conditioners Work
To fully appreciate the several advantages of hosing down your air conditioner, you need to first understand how an air conditioner works.
Air conditioners use refrigerant to absorb heat from indoors. Then it cycles to the outdoor unit where it disposes off the heat to outdoor air.
Cold refrigerant flows from condenser coils outside the house through lines into evaporator coils inside the house where it absorbs heat turning liquid water into water vapor. Then the now-warm air flows back into the condensing unit for cooling.
As you might already know, an air conditioner works by collecting heat within your home and then dumping it into the outside. In case you are living in an area with a dry climate, you can use the same principle for cooling your home using a device known as a swamp cooler.
Dangers of a Compromised/Inefficient Outdoor air conditioning Unit
It means that the outdoor unit, often called the condenser or compressor unit, is central to the working of the HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Thus a compromised or inefficient outdoor unit directly impacts the air conditioning outcome.
Unfortunately, this is what happens when the outdoor unit is covered in a layer of dirt and the side AC’s fins are blocked by debris. Get a soft brush to vacuum it down gently. With the blockage you will experience the following;
Reduced Overall Efficiency
Air conditioning unit efficiency comes down to how smoothly the appliance absorbs and disposes off indoor heat for indoor evaporative cooling.
Evaporative cooling is great. It’s how our bodies keep cooling when it’s hot, we sweat. The sweat evaporates and that phase change carries heat away from our bodies because it takes and turns liquid water into water vapor.
The risk of overheating
As we’ve said repeatedly, the HVAC system must dispose of the heat absorbed indoors when it cycles outdoors. Otherwise, how would it be collecting it on the indoor cycle?
More importantly, the accumulation of heat because of poor heat exchange in the outdoor unit can cause overheating.
Overheating can damage the HVAC’s internal components, necessitating expensive repairs and high bills. If you’ve got high bills from using a central air conditioner your best bet is to fix the problems.
Direct parts damage
Imagine a situation where a light wind blows pebbles and twigs into the outdoor compressor unit and these parts accidentally get between the fan blades.
The fan would be gone within a short time. Moreover, sharp metal pieces blown into the compressor unit can piece the coils, resulting in leaks.
Air Conditioner Freezing
Finally, every ounce of dirt and dust particles that enters your HVAC compressor unit significantly increases the risk of frozen condenser coils.
The dirt and debris can cover the evaporator coils, blocking heat exchange. This can cause icing at the cold sections of the outdoor coils, eventually resulting in a frozen HVAC system.
Freezing can totally damage the device. Spraying water on the condenser will result in water evaporation which helps in cooling. Consequently, the unit’s job to cool the room is decreased, therefore saving on cost on your end.
Benefits of Spraying water on Your Air Conditioner
One of the most straightforward ways to prevent debris and dust particles from accumulating on the air conditioner is by hosing it down regularly. Periodically spraying it with moderate water pressure is beneficial in the following main ways;
Boosts Air conditioning efficiency/reduces costs
Regular spriting your air conditioner removes the debris that is potentially blocking the compressor unit’s fins, enabling the free airflow into and out of the system thus lowering the indoor temperature.
This is critical in removing heat from the compressor unit, allowing it to flow back into the home as the water vaporizes, and the air cools.
Additionally, you can spray water on your air conditioner’s outdoor unit and help you save energy.
Clean the Air Conditioner
Cleaning the air conditioner is important for multiple reasons. For instance, we all want a cleaner home. It’s why you regularly mow your lawn and maintain your garden.
Secondly, cleaning the AC is good for the health of the AC. Just like with humans, machines are more likely to malfunction without proper hygiene.
Issues such as rusting, peeling paint, corrosion, and more are most common if you don’t take proper care of the machine. Dirty filters can lead to a lot of issues that you might have otherwise avoided if you only took proper care of them.
Preventive maintenance like washing your air conditioner periodically and changing the dirty filter can help prevent costly repairs.
Finally, cleaning your air conditioner eliminates organisms that may be growing on the surfaces of the outdoor unit. For instance, many homeowners are struggling with green moss growth on their compressor units because of poor maintenance. Lichens are also common.
It’s good for your health
We’ve mentioned the risk of moss growth if you don’t take proper care of your air conditioner’s outdoor unit. Fortunately, moss isn’t too bad for human health. Lichens are also not dangerous for human health unless you ingest them.
However, you may not be so lucky if mold starts growing inside your condenser unit. Mold is a fungus that thrives in warm, moist conditions, especially away from direct sunlight. Thus the dark, moist, and typically hot conditions inside your condenser unit make the perfect habitat for mold growth.
The fungi is very dangerous to human health. It causes breathing issues and even triggers allergies. Mold also causes and worsens asthma. And the worst part is that it spreads very quickly.
Other than mold, you also need to worry about insects inhabiting the “abandoned” condenser unit. Mosquitoes ad ants are, for instance, a big worry.
Prolongs the Life of the Air Conditioner
Finally, hosing down your air conditioner once in a while prolongs its life. Although a standard air conditioner lasts 10-20 years (15 years on average), regular washdowns can add a couple of years to the appliance’s life.
It’s the same way regularly washing your car prolonged the life of the car. Washing it removes debris that would otherwise result in rusting. Mud, for instance, harbors moisture.
Thus leaving mud on the AC surface for an extended period exposes the cabinet material to rusting conditions. Rust can quickly eat up the metallic cabinet, degrading the condenser unit within a few months.
Corrosion is another ever-present danger. Acidic rain falling on your outdoor condenser predisposes it to corrosion effects. The salt deposits dissolve the metal, leaving the cabinet and internal parts weak or wrecked.
HVAC professionals should inspect your central air conditioner coils every visit to ensure they are clean and functioning properly. Your central air conditioner has two types of coils.
Evaporator coils absorb heat and humidity from the air. Condenser coils expel hot air outside your home. Both coils need to be clean to maximize efficiency and capacity.
Dangers of Spraying water on Your AC unit
Beware, though spraying your air conditioner with water poses a few dangers. You must be careful not to damage the AC or hurt yourself. The following are a few precautions to keep in mind;
- You may get crud into the coils: What happens if the powerful water spray carries crud into the air conditioner? What if it carried even more dirt and debris into the air conditioner. While this may seem unlikely, it takes only a small wind for your worst fears to come true.
- It may affect the pressure: Adding cooler air into the condenser unit may reduce the pressure inside the unit, and this low pressure can impact heat removal potentially affecting the air conditioning process.
How to safely Spray water on Your Air Conditioner
To spray your air conditioner with water safely, choose a calm day with no winds and use your garden hose. Set the garden hose to a hard stream and run it over the HVAC system from top to bottom.
However, you should keep an eye on the parts of your AC that should remain dry. We also recommend spraying it in the morning when there’s little dust in the air.
While hosing down your AC is certainly effective and efficient when it comes to cleaning, there are additional tasks you can perform efficiently to help it run optimally and improve its overall performance.
Clean the Fins
In addition to the condenser, you can also clean your AC’s fins. First, use a soft brush to vacuum them down carefully, as they can bend or otherwise become damaged if you clean them too roughly.
From there, you can modestly spray the fins from the inside of the unit. Remove the fan, then use moderate water pressure to remove some of the buildups on the fins.
Clean the Evaporator Coils
Here is where you may find a preventive maintenance plan to be incredibly helpful. With preventive maintenance, you don’t have to concern yourself as much with the adequate cleaning and care of your air conditioner because you trust the professionals to do it for you.
How often should you spray water on your Air Conditioner?
You can spray your air conditioner with water as often as you wish. There are actually several benefits you can enjoy from this practice.
When you spritz your condenser, you encourage it to evaporate the water, which helps it cool off more easily. Indeed, you can even hose it down daily.
However, not many people have the time for a daily spritz. Moreover, over-spraying the AC might not be a great idea. So, we recommend doing so every two weeks or monthly.
What Happens if you Overspray an AC System?
There are no major risks when spraying water on an air conditioning system. However, keep in mind that cold water inside the air conditioner can lower refrigerant pressure.
The longer the water stays inside the AC, the worse the problem. So, you want to avoid this problem.
How Long to Let the Air Conditioner Dry After Cleaning?
There’s no standard requirement here. However, we recommend letting the air conditioner dry for 24 hours after a thorough cleaning. Alternatively, turn it off and let it dry overnight before you resume use.
How to Clean AC Unit Outside
If you’d like to clean the conditioning unit more thoroughly, begin by turning it off at the circuit breaker. Then proceed as follows;
- Manually remove the debris and leaves from the unit.
- Remove the top of the outdoor unit.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to thoroughly clean the internal surfaces
- Spray the outside of the fins with a coil cleaner or a detergent + water mixture for five minutes.
- Let the unit dry for around 30 minutes. Be watchful as it dries so the kids don’t drop something inside.
- Reassemble the unit, turn the breaker switch back on, and feel free to start using the unit.
Other Safer Ways to efficiently Boost your AC
- Vacuum the indoor vents and make sure the vents are unblocked.
- Increase your thermostat setting by a few degrees
- Close the curtains and blinds to keep out outdoor air
- Use ceiling fans to make the home feel cooler.
Does spraying water on the air conditioner help?
Yes, spraying the outdoor unit with water can improve operational efficiency. It also minimizes the risk of condenser coil freezing.
Can you hose down an ac unit while running?
Yes, you can. If you’re wondering, there’s no risk of electrocution as the electrical components are safely tucked away. After all, one thing we were all taught when we were very young is that water and electrical appliances don’t mix.
Does wetting the AC unit help?
Yes, a wet air conditioner condenser unit reduces the risk of internal overheating, which can go a long way to protecting the appliance’s internal components from damage.
How often should you clean your outside AC unit?
You should clean the air conditioner’s outdoor unit as often as you can. However, never go a whole month without cleaning it as the dust and debris build-up can result in inefficiencies.
All you need to know is that it’s ok to spray water on your outdoor AC unit. You only need to set your hose to hard stream then run it over your AC thoroughly.
When you spritz your condenser, you encourage it to evaporate the water, which helps it cool off more easily. It, therefore, needs to work efficiently, to the amount of energy it uses.
Preventive maintenance will save you money and time. Side note; please take good care of the filter in your HVAC machine, cleaning them regularly and changing them every 60 to 90 days.
A dirty filter can cause so many problems that you could otherwise avoid if you simply take good care of it.