You often hear meteorologists refer to storm season as if it is a single, particular time of the year. I always ask which one. Storms happen in one form or another year round.
From major snow storms, dangerous winds, and flood causing rain, every season has its particular version of nasty weather, and your HVAC system is open to it all. The HVAC system is your primary comfort system. It does the majority of heating and cooling supplemented only by a heater, fireplace, or a fan of some sort throughout the year. This article is a brief walkthrough of things to think about when major storms are coming to the area.
Your HVAC system must be serviced, maintained and protected for it to function as needed. I have yet to hear of a heating and cooling system that does that for itself. Personal effort and care are necessary. You can even go as far as scheduling regular maintenance with your local HVAC experts. Part of that maintenance and care is protecting it from the damage hazards severe weather can bring with it.
The following tips can help you avoid unnecessary damage and expense when the weather becomes hostile.
Storm Preparation Checklist
For any instance of a storm, homeowners really should have provisions already stocked away and easy to access for the happening of any warm or cold season storm. Top things on your list should be food storage, lots of water storage, batteries, flashlights, blankets, a secure room (preferably no windows), and emergency kits for starters.
Take note of your outdoor belongings before the storm. Strapping down or bringing inside anything that might blow away if the storm brings wind with it. You don't want to lose any furniture.
Monitor your current window situation. Are trees near them? Should they be boarded up? Keep that in mind, measure your window's dimensions and know what size protection to buy when it comes time to board them up.
If you are at home and notice clouded skies, or you hear of impending storms, warm or cool down your house before the storm's arrival. Doing so will help retain most of the home's comfortable temperature with the system turned off until the storm passes.
For instance, if your normal cooling temperature is 75 degrees, turn the thermostat down to 70 degrees if a storm is happening during summer. As the house temperature rises due to the HVAC being shut off, you can be comfortable a little longer than you normally would when shutting off your HVAC.
Do the opposite if this storm is during the cold, start the temperature at a higher degree to have heat circulated through your home. Your home isn't going to remain at that ideal temperature for long, but it gives homeowners a chance at getting ready to settle in for the storm.
Turn Off Your HVAC Unit At Power Source
Just like when leaving your home for an extended vacation, be sure you unplug all your electronics. Although many never think about doing so, it is still a good idea. In the case of any electrical surges or water contamination, you would want to prevent any chances of fires. That includes one of your most expensive electronic device, your HVAC unit.
Upon hearing the storm approach, first, turn it off at the thermostat; then, turn it off at the electrical panel or breaker box in the house. Make sure the unit is off and not in the middle of a heating or cooling cycle before doing so.
The logic here is that if there is no power, it cannot surge. Only a direct lightning strike can counter that. The odds of a direct lightning strike are dramatically lower than a power surge.
Install a Surge Protector
If you didn't have a chance to turn off your electronics before any storm, having surge protectors installed is a good measure to have in general. Just as its name implies, this device protects sensitive components like the compressor on your HVAC unit from surges of electrical current.
Power surges cannot be predicted or controlled. Minor ones happen all the time due to the variance of electrical current flow even without a storm in the area. Accidents do happen.
These minor surges do not cause immediate, severe damage. Over time they do have a cumulative, wearing down and weakening effect on the HVAC unit’s electronic parts.
Major electrical surges are different and dangerous. These can damage and destroy any electrical device or appliance.
Installing a surge protector is a good, additional step to prepare and protect your HVAC system during electrical storms. If you are not home when the storm arrives to turn off the system’s power, at least a surge protector can offer a degree of protection.
Now, can surge protectors fail or get hit with a surge so powerful they too are destroyed along with the HVAC compressor and circuitry? Yes, but that event is far less likely to occur absent a direct lightning strike.
Cover Your HVAC Unit
When it comes to your HVAC, your unit should be turned off during any significant storm. Some HVAC units do come with or have cases explicitly made for the model itself. Make sure to cover it up or protect it from any potential flood water.
Some units have individual air conditioner security cases built for them. These are steel cages with locks to prevent any tampering with, it's a handy security measure and could protect the unit from larger debris when it comes to high winds.
If you do not have a case or cover, buying a tarp of your choice can also be a good substitute. Depending upon the size and shape of the unit, consider capping it with a hard, force-resistant container like a large garbage can or other storage devices as long as it's able to be secure and not get blown away.
Check Unit Security
With power disconnected, the unit wrapped and capped, check to be sure the device is firm, securely in place on its concrete foundation.
If the unit was unpackaged and installed correctly, it should be sitting on metal rails running down two sides of the device.
These metal rails should be embedded into the concrete pad and bolted into it. These rails anchor the unit securely in place so that the pad and HVAC unit is one piece.
Check Before Restarting
Before your HVAC unit is once again up and running after any significant storm, make sure that it's free of any debris. It also may not be the best time to turn the unit back on at all. It's best to practice caution and be sure to have the unit checked out if high winds and heavy snow were covering your outdoor unit. Call an experienced Charleston HVAC technician for an inspection before turning it back on again. If the storm was severe, we are available also to install new units.
The professionals at Charleston Heating + Air are standing by for your call. Charleston Heating + Air has a stellar reputation for customer service, and our experienced technicians can handle all of your HVAC system service and repairs. Give us a call today at (843) 258-4694.