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Preparing Your HVAC for Hurricane Season


We're approaching the height of hurricane season in Jacksonville. Hopefully you're prepared for what to do if you need to evacuate or go without power. But is your HVAC system prepared? If you don't get your unit ready for the coming storm, it can become seriously damaged, and even dangerous to your household. Here's what you need to do to prepare your system for hurricane season.

Before the Storm

Your outdoor A/C unit is designed to withstand all kinds of weather, but severe flooding can still damage it internally. Current Florida building codes say all newly installed outdoor units must be raised or elevated, to avoid flooding. However, if your system is more than a few years old, it might still be on the ground. If this is the case, you might consider raising your unit onto a concrete platform, one foot or more above the base flood elevation, to avoid water damage. Call your HVAC technician to help you with this.

You should also get tie down straps or clips, to prevent high winds from tearing your unit off of its platform and possibly even blowing it away.  Gather up any unsecured objects or debris in your yard, to keep them from blowing into your system. Then, cover the unit securely with a tarp, to protect it from heavy rain.

During the Storm

If your HVAC system does get flooded, your main concern is the electricity. Excess water can cause an electrical shortage that not only damages the unit, but your home's electrical system as well. As the storm approaches, turn off your unit at the circuit breaker. Use ceiling fans or electrical fans instead, to stay cool during the storm.

Likewise, if you have a gas furnace, turn off the gas supply to it as well. Damage to your gas line could cause leaking, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. It's also a significant fire hazard.

Finally, you should consider investing in a surge protector for your HVAC units - both A/C and furnace. A lightning strike could damage either or both of them. There's nothing you can do to prevent lightning, but a surge protector can help guard against the electrical damage that it causes.

After the Storm

Once the hurricane has passed and everyone in your household is safe, it's time to assess the damage. Start with a visual inspection of your A/C and the surrounding area. Is the unit still standing? Has it been flooded? Have any pipes or wires become disconnected? Has any debris blown into the unit and caused damage? If you see any damage at all, call your HVAC technician before turning the system's electrical power back on. You should also take photos of the damage for your insurance provider.

Even if there doesn't appear to be any outward damage, you should still call your HVAC technician to perform a tuneup, before operating your system again. There might be internal damage to your system, which prevents it from operating efficiently. Continuing to run it under those conditions could damage the unit further. Your HVAC technician will help you sort out any problems, to keep both you and your system safe in the aftermath of the storm.

If you'd like to learn more about how to prepare your HVAC unit for hurricane season, contact us today at David Gray Heating and Air. We'll help you through the oncoming storm and make sure your system is safe and secure.