Formicary Corrosion – What Is It, and Does It or Will It Affect You!?

By Rick Hatch, Owner of R&W Heating Energy Solutions, LLC

Definition: Corrosion pits that form on A/C equipment and cause refrigerant leaks.

Why does this happen?  Well, that’s a good question, with a rather long, and technical answer, but we’ll touch on the basics.

These pits form when certain organic compounds degrade in the presence of air and water, producing acid.  In addition to environmental causes, chemical sources inside your home can pose an even bigger problem (unless you live near large fields that are frequently, and heavily fertilized).

Chemical sources of formicary corrosion include volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from building materials such as: paints, synthetic carpets, adhesives, certain wall boards and insulation barriers.  Other chemical sources come from household items such as: room deodorizers, fragrances, and cleaning products.

With today’s homes designed and built to be tighter to save energy by preventing air leakage and infiltration through walls, doors, and windows, this also keeps airborne chemicals and contaminants inside, too.  Inside a tight home, airborne chemicals find their way to heating and A/C coils, and collect there – leading to formicary corrosion.   Conversely, a poorly insulated, or leaky home may be subject more so to environmental pollutants.

So what’s the bottom line?  We certainly can’t worry about things outside of our control – but we can do our best to minimize our contributions to the problem.  Check your cupboards and remove any harsh chemicals you can do without, and keep the ones you do use in a shed, or garage.  Licensed contractors have access to products that will help with the cleaning process, and lessen the impact, so have your heating and A/C equipment maintained yearly by your favorite service provider.  Lastly, and on a broader spectrum, keep in mind that HVAC systems are not intended to last forever.  A 10 to 15 year life span is well within reasonable expectations, but keep in mind, that as technology progresses and evolves, after 10 or 15 years, equipment on the market may be substantially more efficient and dependable (this is also something to keep in mind whenever purchasing new equipment, the warranties offered, and what they are truly worth).

At R&W Heating Energy Solutions, LLC, we are a family owned and operated business.  We employ highly motivated, experienced, and dependable technicians, with a combined experience of over 80 years in the HVAC field.  We welcome your calls and questions, and invite you to stop in our office and meet our team – son, daughter, nephew, daughter-in-law, and our ten other employees who have become part of our family!