When Hurricane Ian occurred in late September, the storm hit Florida’s Gulf Coast with winds of 150 mph and left tens of thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed. Florida’s Emergency Management director reported that rescue crews had been to almost 45,000 homes and were going to be circling back to take closer looks at the damage.
The damages were estimated to be upwards of $60 billion, excluding losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program. If you’re a homeowner with a flooded AC, what do you do? After flooding rains or storm surges hit your home, should you have your AC professionally cleaned or is it better to replace the entire thing?
Repairing Is Not Advised
Right now, your thoughts may be on saving as much money as possible. Repairing central air is not advised when it’s been in a flood. If flood waters didn’t reach it, cleaning and repair may be possible, but you need to ask a professional air conditioning installer for advice. If any flood water got into it, a replacement is best.
While the main concerns are damage from debris and the flooding waters, you also have to consider the electricals. They’re not designed to withstand flooding waters. If water gets into wiring and electrical components, it can lead to electrical shorts and will corrode over time. You need to replace all electrical components anyway.
If the coils or lines get moved on either a central air system, those repositioned lines can start leaking coolant. That’s also no good and another reason you will be facing a full system replacement.
Any water within your ducts is going to be at risk of contamination from sewer and septic overflow. The bacteria that are carried in flood water can be dangerous to your health. Plus, the velocity of flood waters can dislodge AC components. They’ll need to be reseated, the pads may need to be reset, and the stands might have to be replaced.
The National Flood Insurance Program also has a 50% rule that may apply to your situation. If the repairs to a flood-damaged home are more than 50% of the home’s market value, which is likely after a hurricane, everything in the home has to be brought up to current flood codes. Your new AC system may be installed on a platform that’s placed and raised properly to prevent future damage from flooding. This may also mean adding water-tight walls to help protect outside equipment.
All Components Get Replaced
Before a new AC system is installed, you’ll have the other contract work done to clean up and repair the damage. You don’t want to start work on a new AC if the walls, carpeting, and floors are still contaminated with flood water. Generally, the AC replacement will take place when the home is structurally sound. You may find you have carpenters replacing joists first, then the AC technician does the ducts before the sheetrock goes up.
You’re going to need new ducts, new electricals, and a new AC system. You’re also going to need to have the landscaping corrected for the pad your outdoor equipment sat on to be put back into place or replaced if it was damaged during the hurricane. If it can be reused, it must be washed and sanitized first.
Choosing the right system is important. Make sure you get a company that offers in-home estimates. If a company doesn’t come out and look at your current system, the square footage of your home, the number of windows, and the openness of the home, you should reconsider.
An efficient AC system design requires a technician to measure your home’s square footage. A system has to be the right size or it may run too much or turn off and on so much that it strains components. Square footage plays a part in this, but large windows can let a lot of light in and heat up a room faster, so the home’s design also has to be considered.
You’ll be without power for a while as the circuit breaker has to be turned off to make it safe for the technician to work. All old components are removed. An EPA-certified technician has to remove any remaining refrigerant if it didn’t leak out. New wiring and electrical boxes are installed. The condenser, compressor, lines, and new ducts replace the ones that were removed.
Once all of the AC system is in place and the wiring is checked to make sure connections are tight, the power is turned on. The AC system is tested to ensure the pressure is correct and the system is cooling rooms properly.
After this, the technicians clean the area, put on a locking cap over your outdoor unit, and walk you through anything you need to know. Expect this to take most of the day or possibly extra days if the technicians run into problems.
How Do You Pay for a New System?
Even if you have a new system with an extended warranty or home warranty, flooding is not covered. Manufacturers’ warranties don’t cover natural disasters, it’s limited to mechanical failure. You’ll need to contact a few individuals to get help paying for a new central air system.
If you have a flooded central air conditioning system, be aware that FEMA has housing assistance programs through Individuals and Household Assistance that helps pay for structural repairs to your home. More than $419 million has been earmarked for individuals. Those funds can help cover the cost of a new air conditioning system and its electricals.
Start by looking into your insurance coverage. Homeowner’s insurance is there to help with the cost. Apply at DisasterAssistance.gov. There are also federal grants for energy-efficient air condition systems. Between insurance, federal disaster funds, and Energy Star grants, it can help you get your AC system replaced and working effectively.
Once you have an idea regarding where you can get funding, look for a qualified Florida AC contractor. You don’t want to hire the first person you find. You need trained AC technicians who are licensed in Florida. All Year Cooling is and we have been designing, installing, and repairing AC systems in southern Florida since 1973.
We’re happy to help you during these stressful times. All Year Cooling knows all of the programs, rebates, and grants that can help you get back to normal. Plus, we offer discounts to veterans, are currently holding our annual end-of-season sale, and have coupons available. Give us a call to learn more about your options for a new AC system.