HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness
HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness
The NOAA Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook predicted between 14 and 21 named storms for this season, 6 to 11 storms developing into hurricanes, and 2 to 5 storms developing into major hurricanes. The 2023 season is living up to the prediction, with 15 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and three major hurricanes so far. Fortunately, the only major storm hurricane to make landfall was Lee. However, there are still two months left in this year’s season.
If you have lived in a hurricane-prone area for many years, you are aware of preparedness plans for various aspects of life. This is a hurricane preparedness plan for HVAC systems in the area.
Pre-season HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness
There are some general and specific preparation steps that you can take any time before the storm arrives, but they should not be attempted during the storm.
- Trees and tree limbs may endanger a home and the immediate surroundings when hurricane-strength winds arrive. Remove trees and limbs that can damage the structure of the house and remember to protect the outdoor air conditioner condenser unit.
- Find hurricane straps for the condenser unit, to secure it to the pad beneath it. Strong winds can pick the unit up and make it a dangerous airborne projectile. Consider buying a canvas condenser cover or making one from plywood.
- Determine in advance whether to invest in a whole-house or portable emergency generator. Such plans take time to install a transfer switch, permanently install the generator, and plan for fuel storage.
Hurricanes do not sneak up on people on the coast—storms are tracked across the Atlantic and a rather specific landfall is predicted several days ahead in advance. This gives residents several days to make minute plans before the storm arrives.
- A part of that plan includes determining if and when your family will evacuate for severe hurricanes since evacuation is ill-advised during the storm.
- Storing food, water, medicine, and emergency supplies is an essential part of preparedness.
Two Days Prior
- Begin to cool the house down about 2 days before the storm arrives. The air conditioner should be shut off during the storm to avoid damage from power surges, so lower the thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees for comfort during the storm. This will cool the interior and furnishings in addition to the air.
- If your preparedness plans include covering windows, now is the time to complete this task.
- A severe storm will include a storm surge to the coastline, sustained winds of more than 100 mph, and torrential rainfall. The danger from lightning-induced power surges is very high, so flip the breaker at the service panel to shut the HVAC system off. If your home is supplied with natural gas, close the gas valve as well in case of structural damage.
- If you prepared a condenser unit cover, now is the time to install and secure it. Do not run the air conditioner with the condenser covered, as this will lead to catastrophic system failure.
- Go inside and stay inside until the winds subside. Stay tuned to local news/weather stations as long as possible.
When Calm Returns
After the storm itself, it will make some careful observations of the immediate surroundings. The power may be out for a while, which is why your plan included cooling the house before the storm.
- Look for downed power lines and structural damage to the home. Remember, the ground will be saturated, so give downed wires a wide berth.
- Remove the cover and inspect the condenser unit for damage. The materials that compose the condenser walls are thin and fragile. Look for an oily substance and listen for the hiss of escaping gas.
When the power grid is restored and you believe the HVAC system is intact, flip the circuit breaker to restore power to the HVAC system. Lower the temperature of the thermostat settings by a few degrees and determine whether the system is functioning properly.
Have questions about HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness, We Can Help!
Schedule your HVAC System Hurricane Preparedness consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified HVAC Maintenance and HVAC repair technicians put their experience to work for you.