How to Keep Your HVAC System Safe During a Storm

AC in Burbank

A thunderstorm can cause a lot of damage in a lot of different ways. Your HVAC system is not immune from the damage that a storm can cause. That’s why it’s important to properly prepare your HVAC system to ensure it can continue to keep you comfortable both during and after a storm in Burbank. To help ensure that you’re aware of every storm-related HVAC threat, here is a guide on storm preparation from the HVAC pros at Air Max HVAC.

Prepare Your Home

Whenever a storm is coming, it’s important to take steps to prepare your home for the storm. You should consider pre-cooling your home to ensure your home stays cool if you can’t use your HVAC system. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler than normal so that your air conditioner has time to achieve a lower temperature. Then, make sure that all of your home’s windows and doors are closed so that the cold air stays inside for as long as possible. Thus, even if you have a power outage, your home is unlikely to become uncomfortable for several hours.

Inspect Your Outdoor HVAC Equipment

Another important step to take before a storm hits is to inspect your outdoor HVAC equipment. You’ll want to look for any existing damage to the equipment so that you can get a good idea of its current operating state. It’s best if you take a few pictures of the unit so that you can compare the current condition of the unit with its condition after the storm. By performing this before-and-after comparison, you’ll be better able to identify any damage that happened during the storm that needs the attention of Air Max HVAC.

Think About Power

One problem that often occurs during storms is a power outage. Since your HVAC system requires electricity, you need to determine well in advance what you want to do about a power outage. You can, of course, simply pre-cool your home and hope for the best. However, a more robust approach is to install a backup generator that’s capable of providing enough power to keep your HVAC system running. Although a backup generator requires a fairly significant up-front investment, you’ll be thankful to have it if the power outage lasts more than a few hours.

Covering Your System

Flying debris is a real risk for anything that’s outside during a storm. If you have advance notice of the storm and suspect there will be flying debris, you may want to protect your HVAC unit with a weatherproof cover. It’s vital to note, though, that you can’t operate your air conditioner when it’s covered, as this will cause the system to overheat. For additional protection, you can build a barrier around and above your outdoor unit. However, this barrier needs to be far enough away from the unit so that it doesn’t restrict airflow. Otherwise, you’ll cause more problems than you solve.

Protect Against Lightning

Lightning is a very real threat for HVAC systems during thunderstorms. A lightning strike in the wrong place at the wrong time can easily disable and potentially permanently damage your HVAC system. If possible, Air Max HVAC recommends turning off your HVAC system during the worst parts of thunderstorms to help protect it from electrical surges. The best thing you can do, though, is to invest in a whole-home surge protector. Similar to a surge protector strip that you use to protect electronics in your home, a whole-home surge protector provides constant protection against surges for all of your home’s circuits. This can prevent serious damage that would require a visit from Air Max HVAC to repair.

Chance of High Water

Another concern you’ll face during severe storms is flash flooding. This is especially true if you live near a creek or drainage ditch. Although outdoor HVAC equipment is designed to be water-resistant, it will usually stop working if it’s submerged in water. If you live in a low-lying area, your best bet is to elevate your outdoor equipment so that water can’t get high enough to reach it. When building a platform for your HVAC equipment, make sure to reinforce it so that it can withstand the heavy weight of the compressor. Additionally, make sure the platform doesn’t vibrate so that the unit doesn’t eventually shake off the platform onto the ground. Elevating your HVAC equipment can also help protect it against small animals that may want to climb into the unit and build a nest.

Wind Damage Threat

Although your HVAC system’s compressor is quite heavy, it is not completely impervious to the high winds that often accompany a storm. If an HVAC unit moves even a small amount, you could end up with a crack in your refrigerant line that reduces the efficiency of your air conditioner. To keep your HVAC unit in place, it’s a good idea to attach it to its platform using heavy-duty HVAC straps. These straps are galvanized to protect against rust and are inflexible once installed so that you don’t have to constantly adjust them after a storm. Make certain that you only install the straps in manufacturer-approved locations so that you don’t damage your outdoor HVAC equipment.

Post-Storm Inspection

After you’ve made all of your preparations, it’s time to ride out the storm. Once the storm is over, there are still a few things you need to do to help maintain the integrity of your HVAC system. The most important thing you can do is inspect your system to take care of any problems created by the storm. Make sure to remove any leaves, sticks, or other debris from on or around the unit to prevent restricted airflow. If you put a cover over the unit during the storm, make sure to remove the cover so that you can operate the HVAC system again. Finally, carefully check the unit for any damage, such as dents, bent fins, or missing screws. If you notice any damage, take pictures of the damage so that you have before and after pictures of the unit in case you need to make a homeowner’s insurance claim.

Taking Quick Action

Given the risks facing outdoor HVAC equipment during a storm, abnormal operation is not entirely unexpected. The key is to call Air Max HVAC to test your system as soon as possible after you notice the damage so that the initial problem doesn’t cause more problems. In some cases, HVAC companies may be quite busy after a storm, especially if the storm had unusually extreme conditions. By calling for help quickly, you’ll be able to get your system fixed quickly so that you can minimize your discomfort.

Helping You Ride Out the Storm

At Air Max HVAC, we take pride in helping our customers take on whatever Mother Nature throws at them. That’s why we’re proud to offer a complete lineup of air conditioner repair and furnace maintenance services. We can also perform home energy audits, install air purifiers, and much more. We take pride in the work we do, which is why we’re able to maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and consistently receive five-star reviews. To learn more about preparing your HVAC system for a storm, contact us at Air Max HVAC today.