Advance planning goes a long way in preventing storm damage to your HVAC system. But did you know that preparing ahead of time and having a checklist in place can minimize the impact of hurricane-force winds, power outages and flooding? Storms are unpredictable, which means that you may need to respond quickly if a hurricane heads in your direction. With smart planning, you can prevent pounding rain and high winds from harming your industrial air conditioning unit. Here are the key hurricane preparedness steps to take.
Understand the hazards
Because a major storm often causes rapid weather changes, it is important to be aware of potential problems, even before hurricane season begins.
High winds can cause debris to puncture an outdoor HVAC unit, resulting in damaged circuitry. Dirt and loose objects that become windborne and stick to the condenser typically cause air flow problems. Extreme weather conditions can force the unit out of position, even sending it to the ground.
Exposure to water often causes damaging corrosion and can wreak havoc on your AC maintenance. Even if your HVAC system seems to function properly once the hurricane has cleared, you could end up with a system failure weeks later.
Power outages and surges typically occur during a hurricane, which can create mechanical problems with your industrial air conditioning system and cause the compressor to fail.
Your checklist should address these three storm hazards so that you can easily manage last-minute details and protect your HVAC system. Preparation is key so that if a hurricane is in the forecast, you’ll be ready for possible problems to come.
Safeguard the property
Once a hurricane watch is announced, remove loose objects, trash and any debris in the vicinity of a roof-mounted HVAC system. Inspect the perimeter of the building and cut tree limbs that could crash to the roof during high winds. Items around the edge of the roof need to be secured. Edge metals are known to come loose during powerful winds. Even small items can penetrate the HVAC system when subject to hurricane conditions. Anything that can become windborne is a potential threat to the internal circuitry of your outdoor unit.
Equipment attached to the roof must also be securely fastened. Hurricane straps, metal tie-downs or a protective cage ensure that HVAC components are held in place. A canvas cover can also be used for added protection, but only when the system is not in use.
During a hurricane, even rooftop HVAC systems are vulnerable to flood water damage. Salt water can cause corrosion to valves and wiring. If necessary, check the projected flood elevation for your area. A flood map may be available through your community’s Emergency Management Department or Building Services Department. If you determine that your industrial air conditioning system is susceptible to flooding, contact your HVAC contractor to install an elevated platform.
Protection from power surges
Prior to the storm, cool your building by turning the system’s thermostat down slightly below its normal cooling level. When the storm approaches, completely turn off the HVAC equipment. Otherwise, the compressor and other components could be damaged by electrical surges. Lightning and hail do not typically occur during hurricanes, but heavy rain and strong winds are notorious for causing fluctuating power levels and knocking out power. It’s important to turn off equipment because if numerous appliances in the building start up at the same time once power is restored, a surge could occur and cause damage.
After the storm
Knowing what to do after the storm passes is crucial to your hurricane preparedness plan. Especially if there has been flooding from salt water, your HVAC unit should be inspected for damage. This is an important AC maintenance step before powering on the system again.
Taking these precautions and using a checklist help you control the potentially harmful effects of a hurricane. Once the storm has passed, have your HVAC contractor check your system to ensure safety and to prevent unnecessary damage.
Are you ready for hurricane season? Let our local teams help ensure you come out in one piece.
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