Is Your HVAC System Ready for a Hurricane? | Ready Refrigeration - Heat Pump Experts

Is Your HVAC System Ready for a Hurricane?

While most people know how to prepare their homes when a hurricane threatens, you should also take precautions to protect your HVAC system.

Steps on what to do to protect your HVAC unit during a storm

Understanding how to protect your HVAC system before the storm hits and knowing what to do afterwards can minimize system damage and help safeguard your family. See below for tips on how to prepare and protect your HVAC system during a hurricane.

How to prepare your HVAC system before the hurricane:

  • Turn off the gas supply to gas furnaces
  • Turn off breakers to your AC or heat pump and indoor air handler or gas furnace
  • Protect your outdoor equipment from flying debris
  • Secure your outdoor unit by ensuring bolts are secure and tight.

Once the hurricane passes you can safely assess how your home has weathered the storm. If you discover water or other storm damage you may need to replace some of your HVAC equipment. 

It’s important that you don’t turn on your HVAC system right after the hurricane passes. Instead, contact one of our licensed Technicians to inspect your system first.  Our expert Technicians can determine which equipment is safe to use or if anything requires repair or replacement.

If your HVAC system has been exposed to flooding or experienced any other type of damage, it’s recommended that you follow these important safety precautions:

  • Heat Pumps and Air Conditioning Systems
    • Split air conditioning and heat pump systems have power and control wiring between the indoor and outdoor parts of the system, and piping that allows refrigerant to flow through the system.
    • If floodwater has repositioned either the indoor or outdoor units of a split system, even by a small amount, there is a potential for refrigerant leaks. 
    • The system may then require a major repair or full replacement.
    • If the refrigerant system remains intact after any water damage or flooding, the entire system should be cleaned, dried and disinfected. You should also have the contractor check the indoor and outdoor units’ electrical and refrigeration connections, including all control circuits. The decision to repair or replace should be made after consultation with one of our qualified technicians.
  • Ductwork
    • If your house contains a central forced-air system, attention should also be paid to the ductwork. 
    • A contractor will not try to salvage duct insulation that has been in contact with floodwater, but will replace it because it is impossible to decontaminate.
    • The contractor will also clean, dry and disinfect the ductwork itself.
    • A thorough job will require disassembling the ductwork, reassembling it, and then resealing the joints for improved insulation and to reduce heat and cooling loss.
  • Oil Furnaces and Boilers
    • If any water has reached your oil furnace or boiler, it should be checked by a qualified contractor. 
    • The equipment has valves and controls that are vulnerable to water damage – which might not be immediately visible upon inspection.
    • This can cause reliability problems down the road with electronic boards and other controls or components.
  • Electric Furnaces
    • An electric furnace consists of electrically heated coils, a fan to provide air circulation across the coils, and controls that include safety relays.
    • As with a gas furnace, an electric furnace is susceptible to corrosion and damage from the floodwater, creating potential reliability problems or safety hazards.
    • This should be checked by a qualified contractor should any floodwater come in contact
  • Natural Gas & Propane Heating
    • Use extreme caution if there is a suspected propane leak.
    • Have equipment checked, repaired and/or replaced by a contractor as quickly as possible after a flood. 
    • All valves and controls that have been in contact with flood water must be replaced
    • The gas pressure regulator on an NG or LP system should also be checked. This regulator contains a small vent hole to sense outside pressure.
    • For effective regulation, this hole must always be unobstructed. During a flood, debris can easily plug the hole, causing a dangerous malfunction or corrosion.
  • Radiant Floor Heat
    • With this type of heating system, electrically-heated cables or tubing circulating a fluid are embedded underneath or within the floor material. The cables warm the floor, which in turn warms the room by radiant heat.
    • If the floor becomes wet from a flood, it can weaken and possibly crack, this may need replacement. 
    • Both electrical cables and tubing can be damaged due to a wet floor. Therefore, you should consult a qualified professional to determine whether the system can continue to be used.
sample hurricane track

Stay Safe After the Hurricane

When hurricane season hits, don’t overlook your home’s HVAC systems. But most importantly take the necessary steps to stay safe and prepare before the storm to ensure your family’s overall safety!