As residents of the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard know all too well, hurricanes form every year and bring destructive winds, drenching rains, and flash flooding to coastal communities. Storm preparation is a part of life for those who live in vulnerable areas, from boarding up windows to stocking bottled water and everything in between.

It's also worth taking special steps to protect your air conditioning system from costly collateral damage. Follow these tips to give your HVAC equipment a better chance of weathering the storm.

Shelter from the Storm

If you have a major storm bearing down on your area, you should shut down your air conditioning system and cut off the power either at a master shut-off switch or in the circuit breaker. That way, it's less likely to be damaged by a power surge or get shorted out by a flood.

Next, you should cover your AC unit to protect it from debris, tree limbs, and excessive rain. One option is to cover the equipment with a tarp that is securely fastened to the ground or another solid object. Some people in storm-prone regions even construct wooden boxes to give their air conditioning systems a better chance of making it through the hurricane.

If you have a window air conditioning unit, your task is a bit simpler: simply unplug it and bring it inside where it has maximum protection against major damage.

After the Clouds Disappear

Once the hurricane moves on, you can't just flip on the power and fire up your air conditioning system like nothing happened. There could be water in the system, or debris and contaminants could have lodged in the fans or ducts. There's also a possibility that the coolant or electrical lines could be damaged. Before you try to restart the unit, have an HVAC professional inspect the system and make sure that it is still intact and won't cause a health or safety issue.

If you live in a hot area of the country and your air conditioning system does get badly damaged in a storm, you can find portable units that can tide you over and keep your home cool until you can get the central air unit repaired. Some households also keep a generator on hand that can power the air conditioning in case of an extended power outage.

To Recap:

  1. Protect your home (and HVAC) from electrical surges by using a surge protector.
  2. Shelter your AC unit from the storm (and flying debris) by covering it with either a sturdy covering or a tarp that is securely fastened to the ground.
  3. Turn off your air conditioning and cut off your power at either the master shut-off switch or the circuit breaker, reducing the likelihood of damage from power surges or shortages from floods.
  4. Remove or secure objects that surround your home that could become projectiles to protect not only your AC unit but your entire house.
  5. Before you try to start the unit, have an HVAC professional inspect the system and make sure that it is still intact and won't cause a health or safety issue.

If you need help shoring up your air conditioning before a storm comes in, or restoring it to working order in the aftermath, contact your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning today.