How do you keep your house cool during intense rain and wind? When it’s storming and the power goes out, you can’t do too much without a generator, but how safe is it to run your AC system in a hurricane? Here’s everything you should know about home cooling during hurricane season.
Steps to Take Before the Storm
Before a storm arrives, it’s a good idea to have any preventative maintenance done on your AC system. Get documentation showing your system was working, had proper refrigerant levels, and was cleaned and lubricated. Not only does this help keep the system running effectively after heavy rains, but you also have a record, if needed. It helps to show your insurance company that your system is in good shape should there be hurricane damage to your home.
Get to a store and stock up on supplies. Water bottles, seltzer, protein bars, shelf-stable milk in single-use containers, and canned goods keep you stocked with enough food and beverages for a longer time without power.
Head outside and check that your outdoor unit is secured to the pad. Ask your South Florida AC specialist about hurricane straps or fasteners. They can help keep the unit from moving in high winds.
If you have a tarp, use that to protect your system from debris and rain. Plywood is another good option. Note that if the outside system is covered, you do need to keep your system off until the cover is removed. If you plan to run it, do not cover it. It’s best not to run it if you’re in the hurricane’s direct path.
If you plan to run your AC, have a generator as a backup to keep your AC and essential appliances like your refrigerator or freezer running. With an abundance of rain comes moisture that can make your home feel damp and uncomfortable. Make sure the generator is running properly prior to the storm. It needs to be outside to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in your home.
Steps to Take to Protect Your AC System During a Hurricane
During the storm, turn off your HVAC system. It’s better not to run it, if possible, and avoid having it damaged by a sudden power surge or loss. Unplug all appliances, too. If there is a power surge, you’ll prevent a lot of headaches by unplugging your major appliances and electronics.
Board up windows and put anything of value in water-tight plastic containers. Move furnishings as high off the ground as you can. Close thermal blinds and curtains to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.
If you’re worried about feeling hot without the AC running, make sure you stay hydrated. Use a damp T-shirt to stay cooler longer. Feeling warm again? Dampen your shirt again. You can do this by hopping in the shower in your clothes or soaking it in a sink.
As long as you have power, you can run floor fans to keep the air circulating. That helps keep your home feeling cooler.
Listen to authorities and evacuate if it’s advised. It’s better to seek shelter somewhere else and learn you didn’t need to as the storm took a different turn. If you risk it and stay, you put yourself and others in danger. Even if you aren’t worried about yourself, think about the first responders who have to try to find victims and rescue them in flood waters filled with debris.
Steps to Take After the Storm
The storm is over. What happens now? It’s a good time to go outside and make sure nothing is damaged. Check for leaves, debris, sticks, dents, and anything else that has damaged the outer case. If anything looks damaged, call an air conditioning repair service to fix it before you turn the system back on.
Carpets may need to be deep cleaned or even replaced. When there’s flooding, wastewater from sewers and septic systems backs up and enters your home. It’s a lot of bacteria that can make you sick. Any wet sheetrock has to be replaced, too. You don’t want to deal with mold and mildew in your home. While that work goes on, if any ductwork needs replacing, it’s a good time to do it while everything is exposed.
Make sure any electrical lines and outlets that are flooded are inspected and replaced by a licensed electrician. If your electrical panel experienced flooding, you shouldn’t restore power to your home without first having it inspected and repaired.
If your home is flooded, do not run your AC system before having it completely cleaned and possibly replaced. A flooded AC system shouldn’t be turned on. There are too many contaminants and debris that get into ducts and internal components. If you have flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance, your insurance company is going to ask for documentation from an AC expert to prove the repairs were required and addressed by a licensed HVAC professional.
Be Prepared for the Next Storm
Typically, hurricane season is over by November 30th. It’s not a certainty, however, as weather patterns keep changing. Places that have never seen floods have had some of the worst flooding in history, and places like Death Valley, which rarely see rain, have lakes and ponds and have come to life. There are no guarantees with the weather, so you have to be prepared.
Getting your system up and running before the next storm offers peace of mind. If there are issues, you have them taken care of and have the proof you need if you do experience a hurricane or severe thunderstorm. Insurance companies may require evidence that your system is in good shape, and maintenance services from a qualified AC technician provide that proof.
The fall and winter months are perfect times for a full system maintenance and inspection. Most people are past the point of needing emergency service, so it’s easier to get an AC technician at a time that’s convenient to you. Plus, prices on new AC systems are often lower in the off-season.
All Year Cooling offers comprehensive inspections of flooded AC systems, and checks to make sure it’s okay to turn your AC back on. If you need repairs or a full system replacement, our competitive prices and fast service get your system back up and running quicker than you could imagine. Give us a call or reach us online to learn more and ask about our AC maintenance coupons and same-day installs on new AC units.