With the looming eruption of the Taal Volcano, you may be wondering if it is safe to use your aircon during a volcanic eruption. You may also be worried if the ashfall will damage your air conditioner.
Generally, it is safe for the people inside to use an aircon during light ashfall. However, you need to clean the outdoor part of the AC afterwards to prevent any untoward effects on your unit. You may want to refrain from using your aircon during heavy ashfall, as the ash may clog the outdoor unit’s mechanisms and cause overheating issues.
In this article, I will discuss how a volcanic eruption affects your air conditioner, and what to do after the ash settles.
How air conditioners work
An air conditioner works by sucking indoor air through its intake and passing it over a pipe called the evaporator which takes the heat off the air. This cold air is then distributed throughout the room using a blower wheel.
Air conditioners use the refrigeration process to make cold air. To achieve this, a compressor on the outdoor part of the aircon pumps a refrigerant gas that continuously evaporates and condenses along the heat exchange pipes embedded inside the aircon.
The pipe that actually makes the air cold is the evaporator. As the refrigerant (in its liquid form) evaporates and heats up, it travels to the condenser pipes on the outdoor part of the aircon. In here, the refrigerant gas cools down and condenses back into its liquid form. The heat generated during this exchange is radiated outdoors.
Can you use an aircon during a volcanic eruption?
It is important to note is that your aircon is not using air from the outside. It merely recycles the air inside of your room over and over again. This means that no ash will be introduced to your room by the aircon. This makes the air safe for the people inside as long as the windows were closed well before the ash falls on your home.
In the event that some ash enters your home before turning on the air conditioner, some of it might stay airborne once the air intake panel sucks the indoor air in. The best case scenario here is if the ash gets trapped in the air intake filter before being blown out to the room.
Aside from the windows, you should also close your air conditioner vent to prevent outdoor air from coming inside of your room.
However, it may be best to refrain from using your air conditioner if the ashfall is particularly heavy. The ash may form a thick coat around the outdoor condenser coil of your unit, which will hamper its heat transferring function. This can cause the aircon to overheat and malfunction.
How to clean your aircon once the ash fall stops
After that ash has settled, you should clean your air conditioner before using it again. Regardless of the amount of ashfall in your area, you should clean your aircon especially its outdoor parts.
First off, you should clean the air intake filter. Chances are, a thick layer of ash may have built up on the air filter which will hamper the heat transfer capability of the evaporator coil. Not only does this cause your air conditioner to blow warm air, it can also cause icing inside your aircon.
Next up, you should clean the condenser coil inside the outdoor part of your air conditioner. If light ashfall was encountered. vacuuming the coils may be sufficient. For heavier ashfalls, you may need to wash the condenser with a coil cleaner to remove as ash you can.
If you are not confident with your technical abilities, you should schedule an air conditioner cleaning service to help you keep your unit in tip–top shape.
I hope that this article clarified this topic for you. The best thing to do is to close every crevice in your home once you hear that a volcano has erupted. This will prevent ash from settling in your room. Also remember to clean your air conditioner regardless of how heavy the ashfall is.
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.