Weathering the Storm: How to Safeguard Your HVAC System During Texas’ Intense Weather
Texas is famous for its vast landscapes, rich history, and intense weather patterns that can wreak havoc on any home. One of the often-overlooked casualties of these storms is the home’s HVAC system. This Strickland Heating and Air guide aims to educate homeowners on protecting their HVAC during storms, providing preventative tips before, during, and after the storm.
Why HVAC Systems are Vulnerable During Storms
- Electrical Hazards: Beyond Just Short Circuits
While it’s true that moisture can cause short circuits in the electrical components of an HVAC system, the risks extend beyond that. Excessive moisture can also lead to corrosion of electrical connections over time. This means that even if the system appears to function normally right after the storm, it may face premature failure or require more frequent repairs in the future, all courtesy of subtle damage that accumulates due to weather conditions.
- Physical Damage: The Spectrum of Risks
Physical damage isn’t just about a flying branch hitting the outdoor compressor. The condenser coils can also be affected by hail, leading to efficiency loss. Even the smaller debris, like pebbles and twigs carried by strong winds, can accumulate inside the unit, blocking airflow and reducing the system’s effectiveness. Plus, larger debris can dent or bend the fan blades, causing imbalances that will make the system work harder and consume more energy.
- Power Surges: More than Just Circuitry Damage
It’s common knowledge that power surges can damage the internal circuitry of HVAC systems. However, what’s less known is that these power fluctuations can also cause the compressor to work erratically, leading to unnecessary strain and, in extreme cases, total failure. The integrated microprocessors and control boards that regulate temperature and humidity settings can also malfunction due to power surges, leading to inconsistent performance.
- Wind Pressure Imbalances
Less obvious but equally important is the impact of wind pressure. High winds can create pressure imbalances within ventilation systems, which can in turn, affect indoor air quality. For homes with balanced or positive pressure ventilation systems, the infiltration of outdoor air can introduce moisture and contaminants, increasing the risk of mold and mildew.
- The Cumulative Effect
Last but not least, it’s essential to consider the cumulative effect of all these factors. These vulnerabilities can compound, especially if the area experiences frequent storms. This leads to a shortened lifespan of the HVAC system, requiring a substantial investment in repairs or a complete system replacement earlier than expected.
Taking preventive actions before a storm can significantly affect how well an HVAC system endures the unforgiving Texas weather. Here are some in-depth strategies that Strickland Heating and Air recommends for safeguarding your HVAC investment.
Secure and Cover the Outdoor Unit
While most outdoor HVAC units are designed to withstand normal weather conditions, storms are a different ballgame. High winds can hurl debris like branches or loose patio furniture into the unit, causing physical damage. To prevent this, secure any loose objects in the yard. Next, consider covering the outdoor unit with a heavy-duty, waterproof tarp. Secure it tightly to withstand gusty winds, but remember to remove it once the storm passes to ensure proper ventilation.
Elevate the Unit
If the home is in a flood-prone area, elevating the outdoor HVAC unit is crucial. Even a few inches of water can severely damage the system. Homeowners can use pre-fabricated platforms or build a concrete or brick platform to raise the unit above potential flood levels. Doing so not only protects against immediate water damage but also minimizes the long-term risks of rust and corrosion from constant moisture exposure.
Install Surge Protectors
Power surges during storms are a leading cause of HVAC system failures. Consider installing a surge protector specifically designed for HVAC systems to mitigate this. Unlike standard surge protectors used for electronics, these are built to handle the high electrical loads that HVAC systems require. They protect sensitive components from damage by redirecting excess voltage back into the ground.
Turn Off the System
It might sound rudimentary, but turning off the HVAC system before the storm arrives can be one of the most effective ways to prevent damage. This avoids the risk of electrical complications if the system is on when a power surge occurs. Turning off the system also minimizes wear and tear on components that might already be under stress from the storm.
Clear Drainage Paths
Ensuring the HVAC unit’s drainage paths are clear can help prevent water from pooling around the system, reducing the risk of flooding. Check the drain pans and condensate drains for any blockages and clear them to allow efficient water flow away from the unit.
After the Storm: Assess and Act
Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to venture outside, begin by preliminary assessing the outdoor HVAC unit for any visible damage like water submersion or debris impact. Rather than attempting to turn the system back on, consulting a professional for a comprehensive evaluation is crucial.
It’s also a wise step to document any damage by taking photographs and making detailed notes, as this will be invaluable for any insurance claims that may follow. Finally, refrain from turning the HVAC system back on until it has been professionally evaluated and deemed safe for operation.
Talk To The Experts
In Texas’s often tempestuous weather conditions, neglecting the HVAC system is not an option. Strickland Heating and Air is committed to helping homeowners weather these storms with minimal impact on their HVAC systems.
The company offers expert consultations and inspections before and after storms to help residents of Texas protect their investments and ensure a comfortable, safe living environment. Protect your home and your peace of mind by contacting Strickland Heating and Air for your HVAC needs today.