Birthday parties. Winning lottery tickets. A long-lost love appears at your door. Hurricanes.
Which one of these is not a surprise?
That’s right, hurricanes never show up unannounced, and thus, they can never be a surprise.
Thanks to modern meteorological technology, we can see one of these massive summertime storms brewing days before they’re strong enough to have a name. We even get told how many hurricanes to expect at the start of hurricane season! Still, not many people seem motivated to do the bare minimum to prepare their homes (and families) in advance of approaching storms.
The most straightforward answer, of course, is yes. Not only are the obvious things like lightning, wind, and torrential rains dangerous for your AC system but power outages and the surges that follow them can make things much worse. Hurricanes and even strong summer thunderstorms can whip up dangerous wind gusts and powerful cloud-to-ground lightning that can knock out power to entire cities.
All central air conditioners have an outdoor component, a large metal box that houses the compressor, condenser coil, a large fan, and several electrical connections. We all know that electricity and water don’t mix well, and the AC box adds metal to that mix, so keeping a safe distance between yourself and the outdoor AC unit during a storm to prevent getting a shock is critical.
Hurricanes and intense thunderstorms can create short-term power outages, and when those circuits are first re-energized can release a large “surge” of stored energy from the power line. If a power line is struck by lightning, the additional voltage from the strike can enter your home, causing damage to any electronics that are plugged in. Computers, TVs, and air conditioners are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of power surges, so be sure to unplug as many appliances as you can during a power failure.
Having an air conditioning system that is ready to stand up to the heat and humidity of south Texas is important; having one that can weather a hurricane is essential. Check to ensure that your outdoor AC unit is properly affixed to its concrete slab with tie-straps, short, narrow steel pieces. When properly secured to both the slab and the air conditioner, these straps will prevent your AC unit from flying away in hurricane-force winds. Check the screws that hold the cover onto the unit for any loose or missing screws, and tighten/replace them accordingly.
Also, keep up with the regular care and maintenance of your home’s HVAC system. Changing filters, keeping dust and debris buildup out of intake vents, and having the AC inspected for proper operation regularly will improve your energy usage and ensure your system’s readiness ahead of a storm.
Before a possible power outage, running your air conditioner several degrees below average is an excellent way to “pre-cool” your home should you lose power. Floors, walls, and even furniture will remain cool to the touch and help cool your home for an extended period during an electrical failure. Keep windows, doors, curtains, and blinds drawn to keep warm air and radiant heat out of the desired rooms. Once the storm is close enough to become a threat, please turn off your air conditioner, and where possible, unplug them from their power source to prevent damage from a surge.
Additional, but not necessarily HVAC-related, steps to take as a hurricane comes to town is to turn off the gas supply to any gas appliances in your home. Turn off all circuit breakers to your air conditioner, furnace, air handlers, etc., to avoid power surges, and secure all outdoor ornaments and furniture to eliminate damage caused by, well, flying furniture. If you’re turning off the power to your air conditioner, consider laying a tarp across the top of your AC to minimize damage from airborne trees and tables.
Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning offers our customers regular HVAC system maintenance on its own or combined with one of our VIP Maintenance Service Plans. Prepare your family’s home comfort system for the upcoming summer and major storm season with an AC Maintenance Service call.
Call Nick’s Today; We’re on the Way.