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Protecting Your AC System from Stormy Weather

Extreme weather can cause damage to your home in many different ways. Homeowners often ask what extra steps can be taken to protect their HVAC system during a storm. A problem with your HVAC system can waste energy or lead to an inconvenient breakdown. There are simple steps you can take to ensure the safety of your HVAC system during inclement weather, especially if you have a system with an outdoor component. While proper HVAC maintenance throughout the year is the best defense, here are some other tips:

Hail

Hail can damage the fins and the refrigerant coil of your outdoor unit so it is recommended that you have hail guards installed.  Hail guards are made of thick, metal mesh and protect your unit from damage by large pellets.  They are fit over the vent opening and can stay in place all year while still allowing efficient heating and cooling.

Wind

Heavy winds pose multiple threats. Dust and debris kicked up can clog the air intakes and ductwork, forcing the unit to work harder than normal. For this reason, you are advised to not run HVAC units during heavy winds. You should also clear away anything that might become a flying object. Put away patio furniture, toys and garden decorations as strong winds could fling them into your outdoor unit.

Make sure there are no tree limbs that could damage your outdoor unit. Trim branches on nearby trees so they don’t fall on the unit or drop leaves into it. Secure and cover any electrical wires and connections between the outdoor HVAC unit and the house. After the storm, be sure to check for loose or disconnected wires. You should also ensure that the outdoor unit is securely anchored onto a concrete base.

Flooding

Your HVAC system can withstand heavy rain but standing water and flooding are extremely dangerous. Have the unit installed on a higher level to prevent against flood damage or elevate the concrete base of an existing unit if standing water is an issue. Point downspouts far away from the system and slope the ground around the outdoor unit away for best drainage results.

Power Surges

Lightening can severely damage your HVAC unit either through a direct strike or by the power surges created when a transformer is hit. To lower the risk of power surges, use the thermostat to turn off the HVAC system and then cut the power at the circuit breaker prior to the arrival of severe weather. It is recommended that you excessively cool your home leading up to a storm so you stay relatively comfortable while the unit is powered off. If you do lose power, wait 5 minutes or so after the return of power before turning on the system to prevent damage from power fluctuations that may occur as other appliances come online.

Another option is to have a professional install a whole-house surge protector that will protect your AC unit from big power fluctuations. These items are industrial strength and often include a guarantee to replace any utility or HVAC system if the surge protector fails. Either way, you should inspect the outdoor unit before turning it back on to ensure there is no physical damage to the unit or electrical wires.

To ensure the best performance of your HVAC system in any weather, have it inspected regularly. Want to know more about shielding your HVAC system from storm damage? Contact the experts at GV’s Heating and Cooling today!