If you’re anxious about the Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) or just wary of summer storms, it’s wise to protect your HVAC system from whatever weather blows through this season.
Storms don’t just bring rain and wind. They also cause power outages that can leave you without the comfort of your air conditioning and other home appliances for hours or days. Check out Ready.gov for ways to prepare your entire home for bad weather. Be sure to take special care with your A/C system, so you can stay cool between storms.
Protecting Your Air Conditioner
Below are 6 steps you can take before, during and after a storm to minimize damage to your air conditioner and get it up and running faster when the power comes back on.
- Pre-cool your home. If you think your power may go out during a storm, go ahead and cool your home in advance so you can stay comfortable until power is restored. Set your thermostat to a cooler setting than usual, close curtains and blinds and keep doors and window shut to keep the cold air inside.
- Turn off electricity to your air conditioner. Electrical surges from lightning strikes during the storm can damage your A/C unit. There’s also a chance that debris could get stuck in your outdoor unit and burn out the motor. Play it safe by shutting off power to your A/C system. We recommend you turn off power from your thermostat and circuit breaker.
- Cover your outdoor A/C unit. This step is only really necessary if you’re expecting a hurricane and high winds. After you’ve turned off your air conditioner, cover it with a tarp or plywood to protect it from flying debris. High winds can knock down branches and trees that could damage your unit if they land on it. Be sure to remove the covering as soon as it’s safely possible. Keeping your unit covered too long can trap moisture which leads to mold and mildew.
- Secure the unit. If you have an elevated air conditioner on a second story, be sure to secure your outdoor condenser unit with hurricane straps to keep it in place during strong wind gusts. If your area is prone to flooding, you may want to get an HVAC professional to elevate your unit for better protection.
- Check for damage before you turn your air back on. This is one of the most important steps. Don’t forget to assess the storm damage before you turn your system back on. Flooding or flying debris could have damaged your unit and turning it on can make the problem worse. Also, storm winds many cause disconnections within your AC unit, which could lead to toxic refrigerant leaks. Do turn your A/C on as soon as it seems safe. This will keep mold and mildew from settling in.
5 Simple Steps to Protect Your Home From a Hurricane
In addition to protecting your air conditioner, there are a few simple steps you can take to help protect your home. Please note, these suggestions do not mean you or your home will be “safe” during a severe storm. Please follow weather advisories and evacuate the area when recommended by local officials
- Brace your garage door. If heavy winds break down your garage door and get into your garage, it’s easier for the whole roof to be ripped off.
- Securely fasten windows and doors. Protect your home from broken glass and flying debris by ensuring all doors and windows are locked. Many homes in hurricane-prone areas have window, porch and door protection systems for added security.
- Trim surrounding trees. Keep an eye out for dead limbs or overhanging trees on your property and remove them before they can cause damage in a heavy storm. Other loose objects around your yard like patio furniture and grills should also be secured.
- Unplug appliances or invest in a surge protector. In a severe storm, electrical surges are a very real possibility and can do a lot of damage to your expensive kitchen appliances and home entertainment systems.
- Protect your home from flood damage. If possible, move your car to higher ground and move valuables off the floor. Most importantly, make sure you have the proper flood insurance and an updated home inventory to make any future property claims easier.