Hurricane season runs from June through November – a big stretch of time where you should be ready to act. Aside from making sure you and your family are ready, you need to ensure your property is also storm ready. It can be time-consuming ,but working ahead on your property maintenance can make a world of difference when storms approach.
The most essential beginning is to prioritize your family’s safety. Preparing your property can be done each year and is necessary, if time allows, prior to a storm. If you did not plan ahead for a storm, you should not start when evacuation orders are given.
Just like the sports cliche “the best defense is a good offense,” the same process can be applied to your HVAC storm preparedness.
If you are building a new property, proper planning should include where you place your equipment on your property. Ideally, your HVAC should be mounted on a riser, away from any low-lying parts of your property where water might accumulate.
Damage from the wind is also a significant concern for HVAC equipment – less the wind itself and more what the wind can carry with it. Anything that can be stowed away somewhere should be, including furniture, potted plants, fire pits, grills, and any outdoor items.
As storms make their way, it is recommended to turn your AC down to as cool as you can to try to give your property enough cool air in case of a power outage. If evacuation is necessary, the final step should be to power down your HVAC equipment completely.
Once power is disabled and it is safe to do so, you should “board up” your outdoor AC equipment. You can use a wooden box frame and/or tie down a heavy-duty tarp to surround the system. The goal is to ensure that the AC unit has protection from water intrusion and possible strikes from flying debris.
Post-storm, if a power outage occurred, it is suggested to wait until you have complete power restoration before you turn your HVAC back on. Electricity can surge, and appliances and HVAC systems that are live are subject to possible surge damage. Waiting will help protect you from avoidable equipment damage.
Have an HVAC inspection before powering up your HVAC again. If there is slight water or physical damage to your unit, you may not be able to tell from the outside only. Turning on an HVAC system that has been compromised may cause more damage. Waiting for the inspection and a simple repair is much more cost-effective than having to replace a unit.
If you need an inspection, repairs, or system replacement, be sure to use a local, respected professional company. In the aftermath of large storms, many contractors travel into the area to assist. While some may truly be there to help, less reputable companies will take advantage of the desperate situations that homeowners may be in by completing less-than-quality work and leaving town.
Dave Miller, owner of Superior Services, has been providing residential and commercial HVAC services in the Lowcountry for 20 years. gotosuperior.com