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How to Protect Outside Speakers

Outdoor speakers are a great addition to any space. However, you can’t just set the speakers up and forget about them. Outdoor speakers need to be maintained and they also require protection.

To protect outside speakers:

  • Keep them away from sunlight and water
  • Cover them during bad weather, when it’s not practical to bring them inside
  • Check mount hardware regularly
  • Check wiring regularly
  • Clean the speakers on a regular basis

Protecting your outdoor speakers doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming if you follow these helpful tips. You can use indoor speakers outside (as we explained here), but regardless of the design intention of the speaker, these tips will extend the life of your outdoor audio solution.

Why Outdoor Speakers Require Maintenance

Indoor speakers are largely a set-it-and-forget-it affair. In fact, they’re so easy to use that you may balk at the idea that there are multiple steps to maintaining outdoor speakers. But don’t fall into this trap.

Not only are mid-range outdoor speakers like the Polk Audio Atrium Outdoor Speakers (on Amazon) already pretty expensive, nicer outdoor speakers like Sonos Outdoor Architectural Speakers (also on Amazon) can be extremely expensive. This makes maintenance and thinking about the speakers more important, not just because the outdoor environment is tough on them, but because replacements aren’t cheap.

You may have already seen our article on protecting outdoor Televisions, so it makes sense that you would want to protect your outdoor audio equipment to the same level.

Provide Protection from the Elements

Outdoor TV in a Bar
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Not all outside speakers are waterproof. If you’re not sure about yours, go check. There are some steps you need to take if you have non-waterproof speakers outside.

First, you want to ensure the speakers are protected from the elements. This means mounting them under eaves or a similarly shady spot. This will provide some protection, especially from sunlight. Even if the speakers are waterproof, direct sunlight can damage the cones.

Cold weather is something else that can damage outdoor speakers. While it’s always best to bring the speakers inside, that’s not always possible or practical. A trick professionals use is to cover the speakers with plastic bags or containers during cold weather. This provides at least some protection, from rain, sleet, snow, and high humidity, while the temperature shift may still lead to complications.

Finally, turn your speakers off during bad weather. If it’s snowing outside and you’re indoors, there’s no reason to have electricity flowing. It only presents a risk to the speakers.

Check for Nearby Water

There’s nothing better on a hot day than listening to music in the pool and this is often where outdoor speakers are setup. Even though these speakers are probably waterproof, this doesn’t mean that you want them to get splashed though.

Not all pools are designed to have speakers mounted nearby but you can still keep them protected and close by. If there is a dry, shady area, consider placing the speakers there. You can also mount them on an exterior house wall if it’s close to the pool. The main goal is to find a spot where you can enjoy your music, without worrying about the speakers getting wet.

Regularly Inspect Mounting Hardware

This is just practicing good speaker maintenance and should be done regularly even if the speakers are mounted inside. Over time the mounts or brackets can weaken and the hardware holding it in place starts to slip. When this happens, the next thing is your speakers falling to the floor. In most cases, this means buying a new set of speakers.

If the brackets or mounts are loose, you want to check the hardware. Screws can become loose or stripped, causing them to slide out of the holes. Even the wall surface can become weak over time. In either of these cases, you’ll want to move the speakers. Loose screws only need to be retightened. You also want to make sure the mounts are stable and not corroded.

Protecting Outdoor Speaker Wiring

Outside speaker wires need to be routinely checked for weak spots. These can occur due to weather, animals, lawnmowers, and people tripping over them. Even though it’s always advisable that speaker wires are out of the way and protected, wear and tear will still happen.

A simple and inexpensive way to protect exposed speaker wires is to run them through PVC piping. If you’re able to bury the wires, this will add another layer of protection. Whether the PVC pipe is exposed or buried, you’ll want to seal the pipe to prevent bugs, debris, and moisture from getting in. Silicone bead works best.

Before your bury speaker wires or cables always make sure that they’re rated for burial. This generally applies to indoor speakers but it’s always best to check first. Burying wires and cables not only adds protection from outdoor critters and the elements, but it’s also a safety precaution. It protects the wires from wear and tear like people from tripping over them.

Saltwater from pools or the ocean also poses a threat to outdoor speaker wires. To protect against corrosion the wires should be sealed with silicone caulking materials. Even after taking all of these preventive steps you still want to regularly check the wires and cables.

Keep the Speakers Clean

Cleaning your outside speakers means more than brushing leaves off the surface. The interior may need to be cleaned, at least once or twice a year. How often depends on the location. For example, a humid or dusty environment will often require cleaning more often. This is also a good time to inspect wired speakers.

Start by cleaning debris out of the grille. Some speakers are designed so you can open the casing. This makes it easy to check the interior for debris. If the casing doesn’t open, don’t force it. You can still clean out larger debris through the grille. You also don’t want to shake the speaker to try and get debris out.

Sealed outdoor speakers are usually waterproof. If you force the casing open the watertight seal will break. Instead of routine cleaning, you’ll be performing preventative maintenance. Regularly get rid of leaves, spider webs, and other debris from the grille. You also want to clean the area around the speakers. This will help keep debris from getting inside.

Even non-waterproof speakers need to be washed off occasionally. A low-pressure hose can be used to rinse off both types of outdoor speakers, but be careful not to spray directly into the seal, acoustic ports, or grille. Clean water is usually enough to get the exterior looking like new. If there’s stubborn dirt, a mild detergent can be safely used.

Final Thoughts

Protecting your outside speakers isn’t a time-consuming chore, regardless of the size of the outdoor sound system, if you keep up with it. This particularly applies to waterproof speakers since you can’t open the casing. If you’re not sure if your outside speakers are waterproof, the manufacturer will be able to answer that question.

Along with inspections and routine cleaning, don’t forget about the environment the speakers are in. Make sure the speakers aren’t in direct sunlight or near water where they could get wet. You also want to ensure that the speakers are exposed to extreme cold.

Just by following these simple steps, you can protect your outside speakers so you can enjoy them for years.