Top Tips From An HVAC Professional to Help You Weather Any Storm

In the Lower Cape Fear, destructive storms are not only the norm, but can occur without much warning.  And with the prediction that this year is going to be active for storms, better to take every precaution you can to ensure your home is protected and damage from any storm is at a minimum at worst!  Your HVAC system is the single most costly system in your home – not just in yearly maintenance and energy costs, but also when it comes to replacing it.  Although you cannot prevent hurricanes, wind, hail, rain, lightning, and floods, you can help prevent some of the associated HVAC-related repair or replacement costs by taking a few precautions. 

Before the Storm

Pre-cool your home. Turn your thermostat down one or two degrees to help keep your home cooler for longer should you lose power.

Anchor the outdoor unit. Your outside AC equipment should be installed on a level, raised, pad.  Ensure water does not pool near the unit during a heavy rain by ensuring downspouts are routed far away from the unit, that there is an adequate gravel border around the pad, and the land is sloped for optimal drainage.

During a Storm

Turn it off.  Avoid using your HVAC during a storm. Power surges might cause damage to its electronics. Shut off your heating and cooling system at the thermostat first, then at the circuit breaker. This ensures your AC or furnace will not inadvertently turn on during a storm, possibly damaging the fan motor and blades.

Cover it.  Most outdoor condensing units are not sheltered from the weather. Air conditioner covers (usually made of heavy canvas or vinyl) are relatively cheap, available online, and offer good protection from hail storms and snow and ice.  However, the system must remain off while it is covered.  Prior to turning your equipment back on after the storm, you must remember to remove the cover and any debris that has gathered on or around it.  Tip:  Do not use a tarp or other protective cover that completely covers the unit, as it can cause moisture to build up inside the unit or attract animals seeking shelter.  Leave at least a foot of space around the bottom of the unit to allow it to breathe.

After the Storm has Passed

After the storm has passed, do not immediately switch the HVAC unit back on!  First, inspect your outdoor condensing unit for any signs of damage.  Look for cracks, impacts from hail or flying debris, harm to any of the refrigerant or electrical lines, and remove any debris that has fallen in or around the unit.  Check if there has been any movement or shifting of the unit off the pad, or if flooding and erosion has now caused the system to be un-level.  If you see any of this, call a licensed professional to inspect your system before turning it back on. If any power lines have fallen nearby your unit, do not approach the HVAC unit or turn it on until they are cleared.

Whether you need help preparing for a storm or dealing with its aftermath, know you can rely on Salt Air Heating and Cooling to find the most affordable, effective way to deal with any challenges that arise.