How to Prep Your A/C For A Hurricane

The Lowcountry is no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms. We’re in the midst of hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) which can be a very stressful time for homeowners. When a hurricane or tropical storm strikes, your A/C unit can be among the most vulnerable parts of your house to be damaged which can leave you with costly repairs. 

We understand that you are busy with other home and safety preparations.  So as your trusted, local HVAC experts, we took out the guesswork and put together a few tips to help you prepare and protect your A/C unit.

The impacts of a hurricane can cause damage to your A/C:

WIND & LIGHTNING: Wind can blow loose objects and tree branches that can collide with your A/C unit, damaging the structure and piercing the coils. Dirt, leaves and small debris flying around can become caked on the condenser and dramatically impede air flow. 

Power surges from lightning and downed power lines from wind can damage your air conditioner’s compressor and cause other internal components to fail. The same type of damage can even happen from blackouts and brownouts due to system overload during and after a storm.

FLOODING: Flooding can cause multiple (and costly) problems with your HVAC unit. Valves, wiring and controls can quickly become corroded, which can not only impede air flow but can become a major fire hazard.

How to Prepare Your HVAC System Before the Hurricane:

  1. First and foremost, check your home insurance and flood insurance policies to see what HVAC system damages are covered. 
  2. Remove any loose objects that could hit and damage your HVAC (Ex: outdoor furniture, potted plants, yard tools, etc.). Cut down loose tree limbs. 
  3. Ensure the A/C unit’s bolts are secured and tight.
  4. Move your A/C to an elevated platform to protect it from flooding. Talk to your A/C provider about the best elevated platform solution for your unit.
  5. For additional stability, secure your outdoor A/C unit with hurricane straps.
  6. The day before the hurricane strikes, cool down your house by setting the thermostat slightly lower than your usual temperature. Your house will stay cooler longer in case of a power outage.
  7. Once the storm begins, turn off the electrical breaker switches that lead to your HVAC unit, and unplug and remove window A/C units. If a power outage or power surges occur, shutting your system down will reduce the risk of blowing out circuits and frying your compressor when the power comes back on.
  8. Shut off the gas supply to gas furnaces or gas package units. 
  9. If you have a backup generator, ensure it is properly working and in a safe place so you can turn it on to keep your air conditioner running (or at the very least, to keep ceiling fans and appliances running) during a power outage. Be safe and DO NOT go outside during the storm to turn your generator on, wait for the storm to pass.
  10. To protect your A/C from heavy rain water and flying debris, cover your unit with a tarp or unit cover to protect it ONLY WHEN YOUR A/C IS OFF. Remove it immediately after the storm has passed.

:exclamation:PRO-TIP:  Only cover your air conditioner unit during hurricanes when completely off, and not during typical rain showers or thunderstorms. It rains a lot in the Lowcountry. But a tarp is not safe for regular use, as tarps trap moisture and cause your unit to rust or gather mold and mildew. But they are safe to use intermittently during hurricane season to protect your unit from flooding and debris damage. 

If your HVAC unit is flooded or damaged, follow these steps: 

  1. If not already turned off, turn off the electrical breaker switches that lead to your HVAC, and shut off the gas supply to gas furnaces or gas package units.  
  2. Contact your HVAC provider to asses the damage! Many air conditioner issues related to flooding and hurricane damage are covered by your home insurance policy. Your expert HVAC provider will able to provide you with the proper damage assessment and paperwork needed for your insurance company, in order to get your A/C unit fixed or replaced and up-and-running!

As trusted, local HVAC experts in the Lowcountry, the LimRic Plumbing, Heating & Air team are ready to asses and fix any issues that may arise during hurricane season! If insurance claims become a hassle, LimRic Plumbing, Heating & Air can help with our up-front fixed pricing options to make your air conditioner is properly working, and at an affordable rate.

Learn more by visiting limric.com.

LimRic Plumbing, Heating & Air  proudly services HVAC systems in homes and businesses in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, West Ashley, James Island, Johns Island, Summerville, Hanahan, and Goose Creek.