Floodwaters have receded in Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane Harvey, but hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings are left with extensive damage. However, hurricane season isn't over. Coastal areas are likely to suffer the impact of additional storms, as Florida braces for Hurricane Irma. 

After a flood, homeowners and workers focus initially on things like tearing out drywall, ripping up carpeting and carrying away furniture. But soon, HVAC technicians will be in high demand as they inspect, repair and replace climate control systems.

First Steps

If your home flooded during a hurricane, the first thing you should do before reentering is to have a licensed electrician, utility worker or qualified emergency responder declare the home to be safe. The major concern is any electrocution risk associated with standing water.

Depending on whether the water reached electrical wiring, outlets or other electrical components, an electrician may disconnect the main electrical panel or electric meter. If this isn’t necessary, but you still think the furnace or air conditioner may have been compromised, shut off power to the entire HVAC system at the breaker box and keep it turned off until a technician can inspect and service your system.

If you start cleaning right away, mark the high water line on your furnace and air conditioner. This will help the technician quickly assess which components were submerged.

Finally, if you have any propane-powered heating equipment at your home, alert your local utility and schedule service as soon as possible. Damaged propane equipment can be extremely dangerous and must be handled by experienced professionals.

Take Out the Trash

The reason why it’s so important to remove waterlogged drywall and carpet as quickly as possible is to avoid mold growth. Anything absorbent must go, which includes any wet insulation. It also includes any disposable filters in your HVAC system. Take care of these tasks as soon as possible.

When you can get an HVAC technician to survey the damage at your home, you may get a definitive answer about whether your furnace or air conditioner can be salvaged. In areas with significant flooding, it’s not uncommon for these units to be a total loss. Units that can be restarted will still have water damage that will cause corrosion, which can lead to premature breakdowns and dangerous leaks of refrigerant or carbon monoxide. And that’s aside from potential damage caused by windblown debris.

Cleanup Time

During the recovery and rebuilding process, you’re likely to have all sorts of contractors coming and going -- electricians, plumbers, carpenters and more. It’s important to coordinate HVAC services with your other repair needs to allow sufficient room to work, and to make the jobs as easy as possible. 

If it’s determined that your existing units are salvageable, they’ll need to be cleaned extensively. Mold and other harmful microorganisms can fester in every nook and cranny. Special mold remediation techniques are used to make this equipment safe again.

The same goes for ductwork. Ducts that came into direct contact with floodwater will usually need to be replaced. Others will likely need to be professionally cleaned and disinfected.

Back In Business

After all of these steps have been completed, your HVAC technician will conduct a final tune-up and systems check to ensure safety and functionality. It’s important to stress that this isn’t DIY work -- improper repairs and installation can not only lead to energy inefficiency and diminished system lifespan, they can create serious hazards.

If you’re in need of our recovery services, reach out to your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule your appointment today.

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