What is Hydroplaning?

The term hydroplaning is commonly used when referring to the skidding or sliding of automobile tires across a wet surface, usually when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter.

 Water pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, the tire is then separated from the road surface by a thin film of water, resulting in a loss of traction, followed by a spontaneous loss of steering, braking and power control, resulting in uncontrolled sliding/ skidding.

Newton’s Law: A useful analogy in this regard is to think of heat flowing from hot to cold objects as “running downhill'', which is what objects naturally do in Newtonian mechanics.

In an abstract way, snow and ice buildup on top of window air conditioners has strong similarities to hydroplaning as a direct result of Newton’s Law. Warm air from the room in which the window a/c unit is installed (on a slight tilt for drainage), will draw into the unit like smoke drawn up a chimney, or as Newton’s Law state’s “Like running downhill.” super quick, and constant.

Warm air entering the a/c unit, “tickling” the ceiling of the metal housing, (which is, as stated above, the “platform for the snow/ice buildup” atop the a/c unit), causes the ice to melt at its base. As the ice defrosts and liquefies, it separates from the metal platform, causing the “Hydroplaning Effect.” At this point, the pile of snow/ice is no longer sitting on the metal unit, but rather, on a thin layer of water.

The danger of falling ice has a precise order of events:

  • Snow build up during a storm
  • Followed by a deep freeze
  • Followed by a sudden thaw (usually a glaring sunny day)
  • Add the ”hydroplaning effect” from the a/c window unit, and you’ve got a... ”A PERFECT STORM”


Window air conditioners are basically out of operation for 2/3 of the year yet, they are still subject to harsh elements of the seasons. From brutal heat to frigid winters, along with wind and rain. These units are in constant “deterioration mode”. This, in itself is a liability for a property owner.

Ice buildup, is just an added liability, but one that surely can be corralled with the help of the Ice Corral.