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How to Protect Your Air Conditioner During a Heavy Storm or Hurricane

air conditioning troubleshooting
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It is hurricane season once more and a good time to make sure that you and your home are properly prepared. Historically, most of the named storms have hit South Florida in September, so there is still time for residents to make sure their possessions and families are safe and secure. Our air conditioners are an essential and expensive appliance which must not be neglected. The condenser unit is exposed to the elements, leaving it vulnerable to lightning strikes, floods, high speed winds, and flying debris. Heavy storms will severely damage the air conditioner if precautions are not taken to protect it.

The good news is that it is possible to prevent loss and damage by taking some time to do some troubleshooting.

Make sure your air conditioner condenser unit is properly secured
Most new units have tie-down straps. These are essential to install if you do not already have them. They are metal straps that secure the unit to its concrete base. They can withstand winds of up to 150mph and will prevent the unit from flying off its base. These straps have been in the building code requirements for a number of years. Check your air conditioner, if it does have straps they may be rusted or damaged and may need replacing. Contact the professionals at Art Plumbing & Air Conditioning to install or replace them if necessary so that your unit isn’t unintentionally damaged.

Install a surge protector
If you have recently purchased your air conditioner, it may have been installed with a surge protector. If not, it is advisable to have one professionally installed as lightning damage can occur in any storm. The surge protector will divert and absorb the excess electricity, which could completely fry your expensive air conditioner. The surge protector is a good investment to protect all your household appliances.

Check tree branches in the area and remove loose articles
Cut and trim any tree branches that are close to the condenser unit and near any power lines. Make sure you have cleared away loose articles such as furniture, boxes and bricks from around your air conditioner. These can be dangerous and destructive when blown around in a storm. It is also a good idea while doing this to make sure that your unit and all ducts are in proper working order – maintenance done by an experienced AC technician is your best option.

As the storm approaches
Switch off the air conditioner – make sure you turn off the thermostat and breaker. If you do not have an air conditioner cage, it is advisable to cover your condenser with a tarpaulin which is well tied down. This will protect it from some debris and rain during the storm.

After the storm has passed

  • Do not turn the unit on immediately, wait a while until it safe to go outside and the storm has passed.
  • Clear off any debris that may have blown on to the unit and inspect it for any obvious damage.
  • There may be water in the duct work – this can cause harmful mold to grow very quickly. Turning on your air conditioner at this time can cause the spores to spread throughout you home.
  • If you suspect any damage or mold at all, it is best to call in a qualified technician to inspect and repair your unit.

Let us trust that this year we will be spared any major damage and destruction from the forces of nature, and also take responsibility in advance to protect our property and loved ones. If you have any doubts or fears about what could happen to your air conditioner in a hurricane or heavy storm, contact Art Plumbing & Air Conditioning for help and sound advice.

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