Air conditioning manufacturers don’t just send their equipment out into the world unprotected. They provide a metal case around the condenser coil and a wire cage/grill to protect the fan and this is for good reason.
According to the National Weather Service, hail causes $1 billion worth of damage each year. Your air conditioner’s housing is built to take some abuse, but hail is aggressive and can not only dent the housing but also dent the metal fins in front of the coil. Those fins are thin, designed to direct air flow, and can easily be smashed by a direct hit (or indirect bounce) of hail.
The damage you see
If you see dents to the coil, you’re seeing blocked air flow. Your air conditioning unit takes air from inside your home and cools it by blowing it over refrigerated coils, then blowing it back into the interior. When that air flow gets blocked, your equipment becomes inefficient, working harder and producing less.
The damage you don’t see
If hail is large enough, it can not only smash the fins and block air flow, but it can damage the coil itself, or bend and crack fan blades. If a fan blade is warped, the fan may still run but will cause long term damage. If blades are severely bent or cracked off, your whole system could overheat and shutdown.
What to do when there’s damage
If you see or suspect hail damage to your air conditioner, you should contact a local HVAC company to take a look. A qualified technician can straighten out the damaged fins with a special comb that has thin plastic or metal ‘teeth’ to fit between the slats to open them out. A technician can also look everything over to see if any interior damage needs to be addressed.
Your homeowner’s insurance should cover hail damage to your air conditioner. Just because the unit can run doesn’t mean it’s not damaged. You don’t want to have higher cooling bills and less capacity for cooling because your unit was not properly repaired and/or replaced. Even damage as little as 10 percent will have a negative impact on your system.
Whenever you see or suspect hail damage, it’s important to have an HVAC professional inspect your equipment.