Even when you’re not in the direct path of a hurricane or large tropical storm, it can still bring flooding to your area. Water and electrical appliances, including your A/C unit, don’t mix. While most outdoor A/C units are designed to handle inclement weather, they aren’t designed to be immersed in water. Also, the metal components might inherently resist water, but the electrical components do not. Flood water can also carry small particles into previously sealed motor bearings and/or clog coils, which may not cause an immediate problem, but could cause total system failure in the near future. High winds and heavy rain can spell disaster for your air conditioner or HVAC unit, so take these steps to protect it before a storm or flood to avoid costly replacement.
Before the Storm Hits
Pay attention to the weather so you have plenty of warning before a major storm hits. Anytime flooding is imminent or excessive wind speeds are predicted, make vital preparations to ensure your A/C unit receives the least amount of damage.
Step 1: Turn off the electricity to your unit.
This is the most critical step to protecting your A/C unit. Leaving your unit on during a storm can cause serious damage from power surges, lightning strikes or constant power interruptions. You could also burn out the motor should it become clogged with debris. Unplug the unit, if applicable, and shut off the breaker. Never turn the unit back on during the storm, even if your home is becoming unbearably hot, it could damage your unit and endanger your family.
Step 2: Remove debris and other items that could cause damage.
Wind can be just as damaging as water. Clear the area around your A/C unit to eliminate anything that could blow into or fall on top of your unit and damage it. Trim trees with large branches that could fall on the unit. Put away objects like bicycles, outdoor furniture, gardening tools, planters or anything that could be caught by the wind and crash into your unit. High-speed winds can cause debris that normally wouldn’t harm your unit to crash into it with enough force to cause damage.
Step 3: Anchor and cover your unit for further protection.
Storms with extremely strong winds can actually blow your outside unit over or move it out of place. Properly anchor your system to the ground for extra stability. Secure your unit with condenser straps or bolt the system to a concrete pad. Cover your unit with a heavy-duty tarp or plywood to keep out as much rain as possible and further protect it from flying debris. You can also opt to install a metal cage around the unit or build a small shed out of 2x4s to further protect it from damage during a storm.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, even lighter rain showers could cause flooding. Watch for rising storm water and consider elevating your unit, instead of leaving it on ground level. Flooding not only exposes your A/C unit to water, but also debris that gets washed inside the unit. Either could cause problems when you turn the unit back on. A thorough inspection and cleaning is necessary, especially if your unit was under water.