With Hurricane Florence quickly approaching land, people all up and down the east coast are taking precautions to keep her damage minimal. Businesses in high-risk zones typically have structured emergency protocols to follow, but unfortunately protecting costly, necessary equipment like HVAC units is often overlooked. Below are a few tips on how to avoid damage to your HVAC units and further minimize downtime during and after the storm.

Why is it important?

  • High winds from a storm or hurricane can easily damage the fins of HVAC units, and in some extreme cases, dislodge the units from their mounting base.
  • Exposure to even a small amount of water can cause corrosion and damage, even if the outside of the unit looks dry. If salty sea water gets in the units, the wiring and valves can quickly get corroded.
  • Units that are kept on during the storm can get significantly damaged from power surges from lightning and other broken power lines.

What can you do?

Minimal effort to prepare your HVAC units for extreme weather can avoid major damage, costly repairs or replacement, and extended downtime after the storms.

Before the Storm

  • Cover your HVAC unit to keep debris out and prevent water from flooding into the interior components.
  • Tightly secure your unit down with hurricane straps, heavy winds can dislodge components of the unit.
  • If floodwater is a concern, have your HVAC unit placed on an elevated platform.
  • Understand how your unit is performing prior to the storm in order to evaluate whether the storm had an impact on performance. You can do this through data collected by an EMS or through a preventative maintenance check.

During the Storm

  • Turn off the breakers to your A/C or heat pump and indoor air handler or gas furnace to avoid damage caused by power surges when lines and power are restored after a power loss.
  • Turn off the gas supply to furnaces to prevent leaks from occurring.

After the Storm

  • DO NOT turn your HVAC system on right after the hurricane has passed.
  • Remove the tarp or cover and Inspect the unit for any signs of damage.
  • Remove any debris that may have lodged around the unit.
  • If there is any indication of flooding in or around the unit, do not restore power or turn on the thermostat until a technician has checked the unit and confirmed that it is safe.
  • Utilize remote HVAC testing or have an HVAC technician test each unit to ensure everything is working properly.

Hurricane preparedness for HVAC units not only saves money in repairs and maintenance, but it also works to extend the lifespan of the units as well. Smart building technology, such as GridPoint’s, provides facilities teams with greater visibility into how their facilities operate during these stressful events. Users can view performance graphs across their sites in real-time, as well as monitor power quality and energy consumption at sites that are in a storm’s impact path as it moves. For additional insight and tips on storm preparation see how we were able to support our customers impacted by hurricane Sandy.