Severe weather can be terrifying. When a storm rolls through, many of us immediately focus on the damage that could be caused by winds or a tornado. However, flooding is often a major source of HVAC damage when strong storms roll through.
Outdoor units usually bear the brunt of the damage from flooding, but with sudden heavy rainfall, it is also possible for other HVAC equipment to be damaged. While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, often nothing can be done to prevent a deluge of water from pouring into a basement.
Have you experienced a flood? Here are some first aid tips for your HVAC equipment.
Turn Off The Power
The very first thing you should do in a flooding emergency is turn off the power to your HVAC equipment. If you have a gas furnace, shutting off gas flow to the unit is highly recommended. Turning off power to HVAC equipment helps to prevent damage as well as the risk of electrocution to those who might be inspecting the units.
Get A Professional To Inspect Your Equipment
Once the floodwaters have receded, it’s time to call a professional. Having a pro inspect your equipment will determine the extent of your damage. A professional will also be able to perform this inspection safely – they have seen what floods can do, and know all the hiding spots for debris (and potentially animals swept in with the water). They will be able to tell you what equipment is salvageable and what will have to be replaced.
It’s advisable not to turn on your HVAC equipment until a professional has a chance to inspect it, in order to prevent damage from debris lodged inside the system.
Be Prepared To Replace
Whether or not you will have to replace HVAC equipment depends on how much water the equipment was exposed to, how long it was in the water, and how much debris has entered the equipment. For outdoor units, small flooding events may not be a huge issue. For indoor equipment that has been sitting in three feet of water? That’s a completely different story.
Floodwater can be nasty. It’s not just a clean rush of water – it’s usually filled with mud, debris, chemicals, and whatever else it picks up along the way. All of that gross extra material can end up in your HVAC system, which is the environmental control center of your house. While the equipment may be visibly cleaned, that doesn’t mean it’s sterile. A lot of extra bacteria and mold spores can make their way into equipment, not to mention corrosive materials that can shorten the lifespan of an HVAC unit. Professionals can determine what the likelihood is for future problems and offer suggestions on the best course of action.
Flooded Ductwork Needs To Be Replaced
For all of the reasons just listed, any ductwork that has been exposed to floodwaters needs to be replaced. There is no way to adequately get rid of the nasty stuff that can end up in your ducts after a flood. Considering that the ducts are like the lungs of your home, you will want to start fresh after any potential contamination.
Again, there is not only the immediate risk caused by chemicals and who-knows-what ending up in the ducts. There is also the longer-term risk of dangerous mold growth. So if there has been duct flooding, it is time to replace instead of repair.
Use Caution With Gas Appliances
In the event of a flood, the gas supply to your furnace (and any other gas appliances) needs to be shut off. This helps to prevent a fire hazard in the event of any damage that could be causing a leak. Gas HVAC equipment definitely needs professional inspection prior to use, as many components are especially prone to damage from water. This damage could pose major safety risks, so don’t be tempted to do a DIY inspection on this type of furnace.
Don’t Ignore Your Fireplace
If your fireplace has experienced flooding, don’t forget to have it inspected for debris and cleaned. Those with gas fireplaces should be especially careful, as it is very easy for mud and debris to get lodged in those artificial logs. A blockage to gas flow can lead to all sorts of problems; so don’t overlook this important area when dealing with the aftermath of a flood.
If you have experienced damage due to a flood, please let us know. We are here to offer help and options for repair! Give us a call at (205) 871-8111.