HVAC pre- and post-storm damage prevention and maintenance
During a severe weather event such as Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Hermine in 2016, the last thing we want to think about is our AC system, but catastrophic storms such as these can cause just as much damage to an AC system as anything else. Here are some pre-storm damage prevention and post-storm maintenance tips:
- Check for overhanging limbs and cut any directly over outside condensing units. Clear shrubbery from the units so blowing limbs won’t damage the coils.
- Remove any outside chairs or other large items near the units that could become wind-enabled projectiles.
- Make sure outside AC units are bolted or strapped down to their stands. This will keep the units from shifting or toppling over in high winds. Such movement is detrimental to the compressor and coils.
- Clean gutters if they are directly over outside units.
- Shore up any fencing around the units and reinforce post supports. Make sure the fencing doesn’t fall over on units.
- Before leaving, turn AC to the “off” setting. Then turn off both inside and outside units at the power panel by flipping their respective breakers.
- Once power is off, cover the outside unit with a tarp and secure it so that it doesn’t blow away.
- Leave power off until everything has been inspected.
- Check to see if the unit shifted during the storm. If unit turned over in the wind or rising water, leave it as is, and call a licensed AC technician immediately.
- While power is off, remove any limbs or debris lying on unit. Perform a visual check to see if any limbs or blowing debris punctured or dented the exterior casing.
- Check to see if any rising water submerged any part of the unit. If the water has already receded, look for debris “lines” on the outside of the unit, which will signify the height to which water previously rose. If there are visible traces of water damage, leave the unit off and call a licensed AC Technician.
- Check outside coils for any lodged debris. Do not try to clean the coils yourself; call a licensed AC technician to properly clean them. Improper coil cleaning can cause significant damage to an AC unit.
- Use a flashlight to inspect the interior of the AC unit for debris, but do not try to remove the debris yourself. Improper removal can cause sticks and debris to fall into the exterior fan motor, which in turn can cause the motor – and potentially the compressor – to fail.
- Once the unit is clear of debris, turn power back on to unit at breakers. Leave the thermostat off.
- Recheck status of inside and outside units after flipping breaker switches.
- Turn thermostat to “cool” setting as you normally would (or to heat if it is cold outside).
- If you feel like your system is not running as it was before, then please contact a licensed AC technician and request a full diagnostic or tune-up.