Anyone who lives in Florida is no stranger to hurricane season and the other severe weather such as tornadoes, tropical storms, and thunderstorms that we are all subject to. And while the Tampa Bay area has not been directly hit by a hurricane since 1921, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Tampa Bay area is one of the top five most vulnerable cities to hurricanes, and many experts estimate that the Tampa Bay area is well overdue for a direct hit, and even unnamed storms have been known to be severe enough to leave behind damage. It may seem like we are in hurricane season year-round at times, but hurricane seasons really runs from June 1 to November 30 each year.
While keeping our families safe is our top priority when severe weather threatens our area, we also can take precautions to ensure our homes are prepared to withstand the damage of a storm. We already know we need to stock up on sandbags to protect our doors and homes from flooding, and to board up our windows, but did you know there are also steps you should take to prepare your HVAC system ahead of a storm? Read on to find out what you should be doing to care for your HVAC unit before, during, and after a major storm.
RISKS SEVERE WEATHER POSES TO OUR HVAC UNITS
It is impossible for us to properly prepare for any major storm if we don’t understand the risks that are associated with the storm. Hurricanes and other major storms pose many risks to our HVAC units including:
Flood Damage – our HVAC systems are designed to withstand normal weather conditions, but not extreme weather conditions that bring an extreme amount of rain and flooding waters with them. This excess water can submerge our equipment and damage it beyond repair.
Wind Damage – high winds pose a couple different threats to our HVAC system. High winds can cause pieces of our HVAC equipment to become dislodged, and can also cause trees, electrical poles, and other flying debris to land on our systems and cause damage.
Lightning Damage – lightning poses the threat of striking and causing electrical damage to our HVAC systems, just like it can do to any other electrical equipment.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE STORM
Use the following tips to prepare your HVAC system for a major storm before it arrives:
Keep Your Unit Maintained – proper maintenance to your HVAC system is important for many reasons, including keeping it well prepared to withstand the harsh conditions a major storm will bring with it. Having your HVAC system properly checked and maintained by a qualified HVAC professional is imperative to preparing your system for any potential risks well before a storm.
Anchor Your Unit – having your HVAC equipment properly installed and anchored is pivotal in protecting it from damage during a major storm. Once you know your HVAC unit is properly installed, you can also secure it with hurricane straps or metal braces to further secure it for threats posed by major storms.
Elevate Your Unit – if it is possible, place your HVAC unit on a higher platform and elevate it to protect it from potential flooding and water damage.
Clean Up Around Your Unit – look all around your HVAC unit and check for any loose items such as toys, plants, loose and dead tree limbs, and any other loose items that could be potential flying debris hazards.
Cover Your Unit – once you have cleared your HVAC system of any existing debris and cleaned up around your HVAC unit, use a nylon or vinyl tarp to cover your unit or cover it by surrounding it with plywood to further protect it from any potential flying debris during the storm.
Cool Your Home Before The Storm – major storms are known to cause large power outages, and during the storm you should be cutting the power to your HVAC unit off, so it is wise to cool your home by setting the thermostat slightly lower than you normally would to help keep your home cool a bit longer once the unit is off.
WHAT TO DO DURING THE STORM
There are only two main things you need to do during a storm: cut off power to your HVAC unit and keep yourself and your family protected. Cutting the power to your HVAC system during the storm will protect it from any potential power outages and power surges. It is best to completely turn off your electricity or unplug the HVAC unit right before the storm starts.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE STORM
Once the storm has passed careful inspection of your unit is important before you make any decisions on what to do moving forward. Remove any debris that has fallen on your HVAC unit and clear the area around your unit. If your HVAC unit or home has been affected by flooding water, or if you suspect your system may have any other damage, you need to have the HVAC unit professionally inspected before you turn it back on. Once your HVAC system has been properly inspected and cleared, it is important to turn it back on as soon as possible to help dry the inside of the home and limit mold from getting into your HVAC system or ductwork.
Contact C & S A/C services today for your annual HVAC check-up to ensure your system is running the way it should be and is prepared to withstand any threats posed to it throughout the rest of hurricane season! We are also available for post-storm inspections if your HVAC unit has recently been exposed to severe weather and you suspect damage.