Everyone is familiar with either floods, blizzards, rainstorms, hailstorms or other unfortunate weather situation. If your HVAC unit is damaged due to one of these, there are certain steps that should be taken.
There are also ways to protect your HVAC unit before the damage occurs, but it’s not uncommon for people to only take advantage of these ways once they’ve already experienced the damage. Here are a few tips to protect your HVAC unit and what to do if it does get damaged.
Preparing Your HVAC
1. Covering the HVAC Unit
You may not think a storm has much power over a sturdy HVAC unit, but you could be surprised. Just like it’s recommended to clean around your HVAC unit if it’s surrounded by an excessive amount of leaves, dirt and debris, it’s also recommended to lay a cover over the unit to protect it from impact, especially if there is a storm in the upcoming forecast. High winds could cause leaves, dirt, debris, hail, rocks, branches, snow build-up and more to impact the unit. Having that extra protection will limit the risk of damage.
A tight canvas cover and hail guards are beneficial choices. Without hail guards, hailstones can leave dents in the aluminum fins, which can then impact the coil and air flow.
Along with covering, if your HVAC unit isn’t securely anchored, you should place sandbags around the unit to help to keep it from moving.
2. Preparing for Possible Power Outages
Unplugging your HVAC unit is the safest bet if your area is expecting a severe thunderstorm and predicted power outages. Lightning and heavy winds are bad news for the HVAC unit. If lightning strikes the unit, your home could be in danger. If you didn’t get a chance to unplug it before the storm or power outage, use your best judgment. Do not go near the unit if the storm has caused power lines to come down or if it’s submerged in water.
3. Clearing the Vicinity of the HVAC Unit
If your outdoor HVAC unit is not in its own isolated area, you’ll want to clear the vicinity. This means putting away anything that can be picked up by wind and cause damage to the unit. Examples include lawn chairs, tables, barbecues, umbrellas and anything else that may be near it.
4. Inspecting the HVAC Unit Afterwards
If you unplugged your HVAC unit, be sure to inspect it before plugging it back in and turning it on. This recommendation is not only for the HVAC unit’s protection and preventing further damage, it’s for your own safety as well. While you’re inspecting your unit, you may come across something that can be fixed with a simple HVAC repair. If you see that the unit is submerged in water, contact an HVAC specialist immediately.
If you see your HVAC unit is safe to restart after inspecting it, make sure you remove the canvas cover before doing so.
5. Placing Your HVAC Unit if Your Area is Prone to Flooding
If you’re living in an area that’s prone to flooding and heavy rain, consider the placement of your HVAC unit, especially if you’re just installing a new one. Make sure it’s installed above the usual flood line. If it’s already installed, there are options to raise it.
If the unit is indoors, consider putting it in the attic rather than the basement. It depends on your home and the area you live in, but these are all factors that go into protecting the unit.
Repairing & Fixing A Damaged HVAC Unit
1. Easy Fixes
Depending on the type of unit, the type of storm and the severity of the storm, some HVAC damages could be considered easy fixes. After a storm and/or flood, it’s possible for the damages to be minimal, especially if you took the proper preventative precautions. Some easy fixes include tasks such as replacing the circuit board and cleaning the coils.
2. Replacing Parts of the Unit or the Whole Unit
When the damage is severe, ignoring the unit or fixing it yourself isn’t recommended. Since HVAC units are not built to handle extreme flooding, your HVAC unit may be unrepairable or considered to be too dangerous. As we all know, water and electric components do not mix. Water can cause corrosion within the electrical work.
If it’s determined by a pro that the whole unit doesn’t need to be replaced, they might recommend that other parts do. Duct insulation is an example of a piece that should be replaced rather than repaired. Bacteria can build up and cause contamination through the ductwork.
The good news about replacing the whole unit is installing a new and more efficient model that now exists. These improved units can save you money on your energy bills and are considered to be more environmentally friendly because they use less energy to operate.
Depending on the type of insurance you have and the area in which you live, you may be covered for HVAC repairs and flood damage. It’s beneficial to look into these resources. Many areas that are prone to flooding have additional options when it comes to needing assistance, so research what’s available to you and contact a pro.