The National Weather Service has designated June 15th through September 30th as the official monsoon season for Arizona. Caused by a seasonal shift in the prevailing weather patterns, monsoons blow cooler, humid winds (loaded with moisture from the Gulf of California) north over the hot, dry and dusty Arizona desert. Clashing weather fronts result in severe storms known as haboobs, an Arabic word defined as a violent and oppressive wind blowing in summer, bringing sand from the desert. Dust storms that accompany monsoons can be both awe inspiring and dangerously beautiful. On July 5th, 2011 Phoenix experienced one of the largest, most dramatic dust storms of the last century. It was reported a towering wall of dust appeared on the horizon almost 100 miles across and between 5,000 – 8,000 feet high blotting out the sun, limiting visibility and causing damage across the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.
Monsoons and Your Air Conditioning System
It is hard to calculate the amount of wind-whipped dust circulating during an Arizona haboob, but suffice to say, tons of fine dirt and sand is blowing in the air, which is dangerous for your eyes (if you happen to be caught outdoors) and bad news for your air conditioning system. Dust can clog air conditioner air filters, get into moving parts and generally impede your unit’s efficiency.
Gusts of Wind, Driving Rain and Your AC Unit
When architects design homes, HVAC is often not a major priority. Some air conditioners are located in protected areas near the side of a house or enclosed behind a wall. However, most air conditioners are exposed to the elements with many Arizona units installed on rooftops. What this means is that during a severe monsoon downpour, gusts of wind can blow water directly into your AC unit. This can cause problems with circuitry or your electrical connections. Wind can also blow branches or debris into your unit which may affect your fan or other moving parts. In severe weather conditions, it’s not a bad idea to consider shutting your AC unit down for the duration of the storm.
Monsoon Season Air Conditioner Inspection
Given the extreme conditions of the monsoon season in Arizona, it’s a good idea to schedule an inspection for your HVAC system and to have your air filters replaced. Call the pros at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating for service. And, remember safety first! Stay on your toes when those monsoon storms roll into town.