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The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Blog

Can My Air Conditioner Rust?


Any metal that comes into contact with water in the presence of oxygen can rust. So the short answer to the question in the title is, yes. Rust on an AC is more likely to happen in a place like coastal Florida because of our high humidity and the amount of salt in the air. The outdoor components of your home’s air conditioning system are in regular contact with moisture and salt, and this can lead to parts of it rusting.

The good news is that AC manufacturers build their systems to resist rust for many years. It can still occur, however, and we’re going to take a look at what can happen when you’ve got a rusty AC and what you can do about it. 

How rust affects an air conditioner

Rust on the outside of the AC condenser cabinet may not look nice, but it won’t have a major effect on the air conditioner’s performance. We still recommend you pay attention to it, however, because if you see rust on the outside of the condenser, there may be rust inside it. This is where the trouble starts.

Rust on moving parts restricts the air conditioner’s ability to function. It can ruin capacitors, crucial electrical components that send voltage to the motors, and force the compressor to seize up. Enough rust on these parts can cause the AC to fail, usually permanently. A rusted compressor is an expensive part to replace, making it more cost-effective to get a new air conditioning system. Because air conditioners are more prone to rusting when they’re over 10 years old, they’re usually ready for a replacement anyway. 

Another major danger of rust inside the condenser is when it appears on the condenser coil. Rust weakens the metal of the coil and will allow it to start leaking refrigerant. Low refrigerant levels not only make an AC less effective, they eventually cause the compressor to overheat and burn out. 

What to do with a rusty AC

As we mentioned earlier, if rust starts to affect an air conditioner that’s more than 10 years old, a full replacement is often the best option. You can replace some components, but if these repairs cost more than half the price of a new system, go with the new system. 

If you catch rust early enough on your AC, you may be able to rescue it with timely air conditioning repair in Palm Harbor, FL. Our technicians will remove the existing rust and check if rust has gotten anywhere else in the unit. We can also apply rust-resistant layers to help stop future issues. 

Stopping rust

Your best tool against rust is prevention. Regular spring maintenance from our technicians will keep rust from getting to your air conditioning system early. We’ll inspect this system each year to see if any parts are starting to corrode so we can fix any troubles early. 

If you haven’t schedule AC maintenance recently, please ask about our maintenance program. We’ll help your air conditioning system enjoy a long, useful life.

The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. serves our Tampa Bay family with integrity and honor. Call us for fast and effective air conditioning repair in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough Counties.

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