As a resident of a coastal community, you know firsthand the damaging effects powerful storms can have on the area. When a storm is in the forecast, there is often little time to prepare, so storm protection is a process you should begin beforehand. With the start of hurricane season in the near future, learn some of the steps you can take to protect your HVAC system.

1. Invest in a Strap

Invest in a strap to safeguard your HVAC system during heavy winds. Hurricane-force winds can cause movement around the base of your outdoor system, and even if the unit doesn’t completely detach from its base during a hurricane, any movement can cause damage to the system. Straps or tie-downs are anchor-like devices that secure the HVAC unit to the ground.

To get the most out of these straps, ensure you’re only investing in a product that has a wind rating that easily exceeds 74 mph. A hurricane will have a sustained wind speed that is no less than 74 mph, so a strap with any wind rating less than this won’t be able to withstand the impact. Ensure you’re also investing in a corrosion-proof strap for a more long-lasting option.

2. Clear the Area

During powerful storms, the wind alone isn’t always the threat; it’s the debris that gets tossed about in the air by the wind. So if you have time, take some time to clean your yard before the storm arrives. While you want to remove larger items like patio furniture, even a small flowerpot can turn into a dangerous weapon in high winds.

If a pot comes crashing at your unit at high-speed, it could cause damage, so clear everything that isn’t secured from the yard. You can also install some plywood around the sides of the unit to help safeguard it from flying debris — just make sure you remove the plywood before powering the system back on.

3. Ditch the Cover

Given the flying debris, high winds, and heavy rain that come with spring and summer storms, some homeowners will place a cover over their outdoor units to protect them from the rain, but remember, your unit is designed to withstand rain. In theory, a cover is an excellent idea, but it may backfire on you.

Placing a tarp or other covering over the system prevents proper ventilation, which will only trap in any moisture that is built-up inside the unit. Excess moisture inside the HVAC system increases the likelihood of rust forming along the coils and other metal surfaces, which can cause costly damage. Also keep in mind that rust is spreadable and not always viewable from the outside of the unit.

4. Perform an Inspection

After a powerful storm hits the area, it’s always a good idea to have your outdoor unit inspected, especially if you lost power during the storm. When the power goes out, there is usually a powerful surge that bolts through your electrical system.

For your HVAC unit, a power surge can cause damage to the compressor. When the compressor is damaged, your unit may not be able to produce cold air anymore. If your unit was plugged into a surge protector, you may be safe, but otherwise, there could be damage that isn’t necessarily easy to see on the outside.

Since HVAC problems are often progressive, it’s best to have your HVAC unit repaired before the problem gets worse, so an inspection is in order. Contact a professional company as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Apply these tips to prepare your home to be storm-ready, but most importantly, only perform these steps if you can do so safely. Should you have questions about additional protection options, and for all your other HVAC needs, contact us at Krauss and Crane Inc. We are here to help you.

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