Your Place: Choosing and oceanside-worthy air conditioning unit

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Q: In 2012, I wrote about possible solutions to a wet crawl space at my newly acquired home in Mantoloking, N.J., and your reply and the input from your readers was helpful.

Storm Sandy visited before any corrective measures were taken, and I am working on a much larger problem, since my ranch home took on 13 inches of water and is in the process of recovery and hazard mitigation.

My question today relates to air conditioners and the claim that salt in the air, fog, and water corrode metal and will reduce the life of the unit. I think that it is called the condenser and sits outside.

Carrier makes a seashore model, and Bryant does also. My question is: Do these models last longer?

This debate reminds me of bygone days when you had the new car undercoated to protect it from rust. I didn't understand why they just didn't do it at the factory since it was obviously good.

It seems intuitive that a coated/treated model will resist corrosion longer, just as my dad's car did. If that is true, why don't all manufacturers offer this?

What is your view?

A: I haven't been offered undercoating since my last American-made car in 1995, and I seemed to have more problems underneath when they were coated than not.

That said, there has been an ongoing debate in this column, over which I have been presiding rather than engaging in, about how long modern-day appliances last.

Personally, I'm a firm believer in buying carefully, using all the unbiased information available (Consumer Reports, et al), reading product directions and the warranty and keeping both in a place where they can be found easily, and doing regular maintenance. (I clean the mildew off my condenser, at the north side of my house under trees, every spring. It makes it look newer, although I doubt it adds to its life span.)

There are contractors that specialize in Jersey Shore air conditioning and heating systems that you should check out, as well, before you make any investment.

There is a lot of post-Sandy cleanup continuing at your part of the Shore, and I am sure fellow consumers will likely have something to say about longevity and reliability of heating and cooling systems.