Painting your air conditioner may not do any harm, if done carefully. An outdoor component of the central A/C that’s rusty and discolored can be an exterior eyesore, it’s true. However, beyond a minor facelift, how much benefit will painting actually bring? You can revamp a unit’s appearance with new paint, but you can’t make it new again.
DIY A/C Painting
Cleanse the surface of bird droppings, tree sap and other contaminants using clean water and a brush. Mask the refrigerant line connections. Remove any exterior rust with a wire brush or light-grade sandpaper. Two coats of enamel spray paint are usually sufficient for adequate coverage. Enamel formulated to paint appliances is particularly suitable.
- Take care not to spray inside the ventilation slats on the side. Overspray entering the unit could coat condenser coil surfaces and affect cooling efficiency and performance. If necessary, remove the side panels and paint them elsewhere to ensure that no spray enters the main housing.
- Cover the top fan opening with plastic held in place with masking tape. If the top portion is removable, it’s advisable to take it off and paint it separate from the main unit.
The Bigger Picture
While a new paint job makes an old A/C look new, underneath it’s still the same aging unit that’s been on the job for years. It’s also still operating at its original SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) which is probably well below current standards. Cosmetic improvements notwithstanding, you’re still paying more in monthly energy costs for less cooling performance than a new replacement A/C. A shiny coat of paint can’t fix that.
In addition, an air conditioner with enough years on the job to become externally rusted and deteriorated is likely nearing the end of its service life when it comes to critical internal components, as well. Painting your air conditioner won’t keep a failing compressor functional nor repair damaging coil corrosion—expensive issues that typically signal it’s time to upgrade to a new air conditioner with full warranty coverage.
For more pros and cons of painting your air conditioner, contact the pros at CCAC.