As we have already seen more than a few times this year, spring in Alabama can mean severe weather. Terrible storms can be a nightmare, causing all sorts of damage to your home and property, but there are a few steps you can take to protect your air conditioner from damage during a severe weather event. HVAC systems are a costly investment, and repairs can mean downtime and extra costs – no one wants to be without air conditioning on a hot, humid day!
If severe weather is on the horizon, these tips will help you keep your system in good running order.
Turn off your HVAC system during storms
The number one thing you can do to prevent costly damage to your air conditioner is to turn off your system during an electrical storm. Much like every other electronic device in your home, a lightning strike can cause severe damage to the electronic components of your cooling system. So, if severe weather is on the way, it’s best to just turn it off.
Consider a surge protector
If you are in an area that has a lot of electrical storms throughout the year (which, let’s face it, pretty much describes the entire state), you should consider installing a whole home surge protector. Small surges won’t cause a lot of damage to the electronics in your home, but a large surge could be a big problem. A whole home surge protector will help protect all of the electronics in your home, including your HVAC system. It’s also a great backup for when storms come up unexpectedly, like when you are at work and can’t get home to turn off or unplug your home technology.
Remove furniture and toys in the area
The next best thing you can do for your AC unit is to remove any unsecured items in your yard that could cause damage. This includes any outdoor furniture or children’s toys that aren’t securely strapped down. You may also want to do an assessment of the plants near your air conditioner – falling trees can do damage as well, and blowing leaves can easily cause a clogging hazard, making it difficult for your air conditioner to circulate air through your home properly.
Cover your AC unit
A cover for your air conditioner can help to prevent damage from particularly heavy rain or hail, but make sure you are using a cover that allows the system to “breathe.” Tarps are never a good idea – they create airflow problems and can trap moisture in your air conditioner, which can lead to damage and potential mold growth. Many companies have special covers for their air conditioners, so check out what is available for your specific system.
Watch out for flooding
Proper drainage around your air conditioning unit is essential in downpours. Make sure that rain isn’t pooling around the base of your unit, as flooding can cause costly damage. Also check to ensure that gutters aren’t draining too closely to your air conditioner, and that your air conditioner is clear of any yard debris that could prevent water from moving away from the unit.
Get some straps
If you are very concerned about the likelihood of your air conditioner being moved during severe weather, hurricane straps are always an option. These metal straps secure your air conditioning unit to the pad where it sits, preventing it from being blown away in high winds. If your AC unit already has straps, do a double check to ensure that they aren’t rusted or damaged – it will be much less expensive to replace the straps than to replace the entire unit!