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How a Hurricane Can Damage Your HVAC System

Hurricane Florence is picking up steam in the Atlantic Ocean currently, and while it’s not expected to make landfall in Florida, the immense force of the already-Category-4 storm has Florida sending their thoughts and prayers for safety to our neighbors to the north in George and the Carolinas. We haven’t forgotten how devastating of a force last year’s hurricane season was.

Hurricanes are one of Mother Nature’s most torrential and catastrophic natural disasters, bringing triple-digit-speed winds, immense amounts of rainfall, and much more to affected areas. Virtually anything in their path is subject to being totally destroyed or taking immense damage. For homeowners, this can include your air conditioner. On this blog, we’ll discuss what a hurricane can do to your air conditioner and how you can protect it from damage, saving yourself an immense amount in repair bills.

Hurricane Damage to Your Air Conditioner

There are plenty of ways a hurricane can damage your air conditioner, primarily in your heat pump or outside unit. First, there’s the risk of flooding. Because hurricanes bring such a heavy deluge of rainfall in such a short amount of time, flooding is common, especially at low points. While many Florida cities do everything they can to keep their drainage systems maintained, open, and ready to handle the sudden onslaught of water, it’s not uncommon for properties to become flooded with a ton of extra standing water.

To make matters worse, these floodwaters can rapidly flow in certain directions, placing extra added stress on the mounting points of your outdoor unit. They can also carry debris which can damage your unit in a collision.

Then there’s the matter of the winds. With steady winds usually exceeding triple digits and gusts that may exceed 150 or even 200 miles per hour in particularly extreme circumstances, virtually every part of your air conditioner is at risk. Hurricane gusts often carry debris, including some particularly dangerous debris like roof tiles, pieces of house siding, and more. However, even without the risk for debris strikes, the wind force itself could be strong enough to lift your outdoor unit right off its mounting point and carry it away, which is the worst possible scenario for your system.

Preventing Hurricane Damage

So what can you do to reduce the chances that a hurricane will severely damage your HVAC system? Here are a few preventative steps you can take:

  • Shut off the power: Find the circuit in your breaker panel that controls your outdoor unit and shut it off. While your outdoor panel is built to operate when wet, this significantly reduces the chances that floodwaters or continued exposure could lead to damaged components. Likewise, this removes the chance that your system might spark and catch fire should any of the wires become ripped.
  • Tie down the unit: Your local home improvement warehouse has a selection of hurricane straps that provide extra support and security for your heat pump during severe weather. Use these hurricane straps to secure your system to the foundation it’s built on. This can not only prevent your system from being blown or swept away, but may even help it stay perfectly in place, reducing the chances of an issue. You may also want to consider putting a few pieces of plywood against the sides and top of your unit in order to protect it from
  • Inspect your system before turning it back on: When the storm has subsided, do not immediately restore power to your HVAC system. Before turning the power back on, reach out to a Palm Beach County HVAC professional and have it inspected to see if any serious damage has occurred. A professional can identify a number of signs that there’s something wrong with your system before you turn it on, allowing them to fix the issue and preventing a potentially catastrophic disaster from things like an electrical short or refrigerant leak.
Have your air conditioner inspected by the team at Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC; contact us online now or call (888) 660-4337 to schedule your appointment today.