There are a number of precautions that are taken during a construction build for homes that are located in potential hurricane areas. For example, garage doors are reinforced with extra bracing, roof trusses are tied to the house with hurricane straps, and impact resistant glass is used on windows and patio doors. These are all crucial steps to protect your home from the strong winds and rain of a hurricane – but they are hardly the only preventative measure.
In many hurricane zones, the AC system is an often overlooked vulnerable feature. The areas that are most vulnerable to hurricanes are also ones that so happen to use their AC the most often; those in the Southern and Coastal states. Since the unpredictability of hurricane season can mean gale force winds one day and 90° temperatures the next, it’s important to make sure your AC system is protected in hurricane season months – and here’s how:
Before the Storm
Luckily there’s generally some pretty fair warning when a big tropical storm is going to make it’s way towards shore. In these instances the M.O is to protect the exterior AC unit as much as possible. At the very least, cover your outdoor AC unit with a tarp to prevent water damage. Going the extra step can include creating a barrier for the unit with plywood or something else heavy and secure to prevent damage from airborne objects. Something you can do even when a storm isn’t on the horizon is make sure your outdoor unit is installed on a concrete pad and bolted down with hurricane straps.
During the Hurricane
Personal safety is of your utmost concern during hurricane season so if you have to leave your home make sure the AC is turned off. You’ll want to prevent surges through the AC electrical system from lightning so unplug the air-conditioner or at the very least have outlet protection installed. Even if you are hunkering down in your home, avoid running the air-conditioner to prevent any issues either internally or externally.
After the Storm Has Passed
As we said, it can get pretty steamy after a tropical storm has passed in many of the familiar hurricane regions. That being said, you’ll want to abstain from the temptation to turn on your AC to cool down right after the front has left the area. Turning on a damaged AC can be dangerous but can also cause significant issues to the unit itself. After you have removed all the protective covering, clear any debris that may have made its way around vents or inside the AC unit. Next, inspect lines and wiring to make sure they haven’t become frayed or torn. You might even want to wait up to 24-48 hours to turn the system on so it has a chance to dry out. Finally, tentatively turn on your air-conditioner and look for any smoke or weird sounds coming from outside or inside the home.
Hopefully a preventative and safe approach before and during the storm will make it so that no troubleshooting or repairs are needed to your AC after the hurricane. If so however, make sure to consult a professional service tech to pinpoint the exact problem areas and to find the most efficient fix.