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Comfort And Corrosion

BLOG: How Sea Breeze Corrodes

Air conditioning is a modern marvel that has transformed our indoor comfort, offering respite from sweltering heat and humidity. However, many factors can silently chip away at its efficiency and lifespan. One such inconspicuous enemy is the sea breeze – that refreshing, salty air that often accompanies coastal living. While the sea breeze may bring relief from the heat, it can also be a stealthy contributor to the corrosion of your air conditioning system. For a lot of our clients living close to the sea, particularly in Newcastle, and the Central Coast, we often we see equipment degradation caused by this salty air.

Understanding Sea Breeze Corrosion

Sea breezes are created by the temperature difference between the land and sea. During the day, the land heats up more quickly than the sea, causing the air above the land to rise. Cooler, denser air from the sea then rushes in to fill the void, creating a breeze. While this natural process is refreshing and invigorating, it carries with it a hidden danger – salt particles.

Seawater contains salt, which consists of sodium chloride and other minerals. As the sea breeze carries this moisture-laden air inland, it also brings along microscopic salt particles. These particles settle on surfaces, including your air conditioning unit. When the salt particles come into contact with the metal components of the air conditioning system, they can initiate a corrosive process known as galvanic corrosion.

The Galvanic Corrosion Process

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals are in contact with an electrolyte (such as salty air or water). In this case, the air conditioning system typically contains various metals like aluminum, copper, and steel. When salt particles settle on the metal surfaces, they create a conducive environment for electrochemical reactions to take place. This can result in the breakdown of the metal surfaces, leading to corrosion, reduced efficiency, and even system failure.

Effects of Corrosion on Air Conditioning Systems

Corrosion in air conditioning systems can have a range of detrimental effects:

  1. Reduced Efficiency: Corrosion can compromise the heat exchange process in the system, leading to reduced cooling efficiency. This means your air conditioner may have to work harder and consume more energy to achieve the same level of comfort.
  2. Shortened Lifespan: Corrosion weakens the structural integrity of the components, potentially leading to premature failure. Replacing corroded parts or the entire system can be costly.
  3. Air Quality Issues: Corrosion can lead to the release of particles and contaminants into the air, reducing indoor air quality and potentially causing respiratory issues.
  4. Maintenance Costs: Regular maintenance to combat corrosion and its effects can add up over time, impacting your budget.

Mitigating Sea Breeze Corrosion

While you can’t eliminate the sea breeze entirely, there are steps you can take to mitigate its corrosive effects on your air conditioning system:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean the outdoor unit of your air conditioner to remove salt buildup. Use a gentle hose spray or a soft cloth to wipe away salt deposits.
  2. Coating Protection: Apply a protective coating to the metal components of your air conditioning system. This barrier can help shield the metal from direct contact with salt particles.
  3. Location Consideration: If you’re in the process of installing a new air conditioning system, consider its location in relation to the prevailing sea breeze. Placing the unit in a more sheltered area can help reduce its exposure to salt-laden air.
  4. Scheduled Maintenance: Enlist the services of a professional HVAC technician for regular maintenance checks. They can identify corrosion early and take corrective measures to prevent further damage.

While the sea breeze is a refreshing part of coastal living, it comes with the hidden risk of corroding your air conditioning system. By understanding the science behind galvanic corrosion and implementing preventive measures, you can enjoy both the comfort of indoor cooling and the invigorating effects of the sea breeze. Regular maintenance, cleaning, and protective coatings can help extend the lifespan and efficiency of your air conditioning system, ensuring that it continues to serve you well even in the face of this stealthy culprit.