Atlantic hurricane season may only come once per year, but the season is long. From June 1st through November 30th every year, those in the Lowcountry and the rest of our neighbors along the Atlantic Coast know to anticipate the annual appearance of tropical storms and hurricanes. Along with stocking up on water and other necessities, preparing your HVAC for storms is one more thing to add to your hurricane checklist.
Guide to Preparing Your HVAC for Storms
Move or remove loose objects from your property
Although your HVAC condenser (the part of the HVAC that stays outside) is a sturdy unit, it can be damaged if strong gusts of wind blow objects into it. When you know a powerful storm is on its way, begin moving lawn furniture, bikes, potted plants, and any other hefty items away from your condenser. It is best if you can move these potentially damaging items into a garage or inside your home.
Secure your HVAC with hurricane straps
Hurricane straps are pieces of galvanized steel that attach your HVAC unit to its concrete base to keep it from blowing away or toppling over. Make sure that the bolts are tightened. Also check that the pad your condenser sits on is sturdy.
Cover your air conditioner
For an extra layer of protection, you can cover your AC with a tarp or with plywood. Keep in mind that you cannot use your AC while you have the outside unit covered, so turn it off before covering. When the storm has passed, remove the covering as soon as possible, as it can hold moisture and cause mold to build up.
Turn off the electricity to your AC unit
Even if you are not covering your AC, it is a good idea to cut its electricity. If there is an electrical surge, it can damage your AC unit. Debris from the storm can also get stuck and burn out your motor, so turning it off is the safest bet.
Invest in a quality surge protector
If you did not have time to turn off your HVAC system before the storm, have a high-quality surge protector for backup. This should automatically shut down your system if there is a voltage surge. Having a surge protector is good even outside of hurricane season, since repeated minor power surges can weaken your HVAC’s electronics.
Protect your HVAC unit with regular maintenance
Small issues with your HVAC that would otherwise be caught with regular maintenance can be exacerbated during a heavy storm or hurricane. The best way to extend the life of your unit is to conduct routine HVAC maintenance.