Salt, or sodium chloride, is essential to human life - but it’s not ideal for your air conditioner.

When we eat salt, we get thirsty. Salt in the air contributes to the corrosion of machinery for doing the same thing - attracting moisture.

This salt and moisture combination can lead to rapid corrosion and deterioration of metals like aluminum and steel. 

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Your air conditioner’s condenser coil is the most vulnerable to this problem because it is made up of copper tubes with attached aluminum fins that spin to disperse heat quickly. When salt and moisture make their way between the copper and aluminum, it causes corrosion. Eventually, refrigerant (Freon or Puron) leaks. 

Next is a ripple effect. Corroded coils mean your system isn’t getting proper air flow and the heat transfer is reduced. This leads to even further damage in other parts of the system. 

Warning signs

  • Are you getting little circulation or poor cooling results? 
  • Is your system freezing with parts icing over? 
  • Are there pockmarks on the equipment?

If you live in a coastal area, this might be an indication of saltwater damage. The closer you are to the ocean, the greater the damage salt can do to your air conditioner. Sometimes, units that should last 15 years are badly deteriorated within five years. 

What you can do

Since the condenser coils are the most vulnerable part, you should clean them with a hose on a regular basis. You could also use a non-acid foaming cleanser - or call an HVAC professional to have a special coating applied to particular parts to help protect them from corrosion.

If you’re buying a new air conditioner, check for special coastal warranties, or shop around for a unit that is more “saltwater-friendly.” 

Regardless of whether or not you live close to the coast, having regular maintenance is a wise way to help protect your investment by checking for build-up and/or deterioration of equipment. 

For more information, visit– a family-operated business based in Tinton Falls, founded in 1971.