Why Homeowners Shouldn’t Paint Their Air Conditioners

painting your air conditionerPainting your air conditioner gives a new look to an old unit. If the appearance of the outdoor A/C unit somehow clashes with its surroundings, its outer metal enclosure may be repainted using standard techniques for painting sheet metal.

First Consider This

Average efficient service life of a central A/C is around 15 years. Since  outdoor A/C components are specifically constructed to resist deterioration over that typical lifespan, any unit old enough to become noticeably unsightly and/or rusty might be a better candidate for replacement rather than cosmetic improvements like repainting. Even if an aging A/C is still strictly operational, its energy efficiency and cooling performance specs likely don’t meet today’s higher standards. Painting your air conditioner won’t improve those functions.

Painting Considerations

Use a scrub brush and water to clean the unit and remove bird droppings, tree sap and other contaminants. Allow the unit to dry thoroughly. Mask over parts like the refrigerant lines where they connect to the unit and power cables. Also, tape a sheet of plastic to the adjacent wall of the house for protection against drifting overspray.

Enamel spray paint is suitable for most exterior metal painting applications. Spray paint varieties formulated specifically to repaint appliances are particularly applicable to this purpose, though choice of colors in that specialized type is limited.

Two Caveats

  • Avoid spraying into the side air slots or the fan grille on top. Spray paint infiltrating the unit could coat condenser coil surfaces, reducing cooling performance and efficiency. Side panels that incorporate air vent slots should be removed and painted separately to prevent spray contacting the coil and other critical internal components. The fan grille opening on top should be covered with plastic secured by masking tape to keep spray out.
  • Painting over rust will not stop the rusting process. Before painting a rusty air conditioner, all existing rust must be manually removed using light grade sandpaper or a wire brush.

Is painting your air conditioner the best approach for an aging, outdated unit? Ask the professionals at Paitson Bros., the Wabash Valley choice for HVAC solutions since 1922.

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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