Don’t Forget the AC: Tips to Ready Your Unit for the Storm Season
Hurricane season can be a hectic time for Southwest Florida residents, as strong storms threaten our homes and property. We often have advanced warning before these storms hit, but there’s still a lot to be done to prepare your home for the high winds and pounding rains of a hurricane. In all this hustle, it can be easy to forget an important part of your home that needs protection: the AC unit. Since the powerhouse behind your AC system, the outdoor unit, is unprotected from the elements, you have to take extra precautions to prepare it for impending storms. Luckily, we’ve put together a guide to help you ready this important part of your home for the coming rains and winds. And we’re here to provide additional support if for some reason your AC does not function properly after a hurricane. At BHS, we provide AC repairs and replacements as needed. Let’s get started on protecting your AC unit today.
When is Hurricane Season?
If you’re a newbie to Florida, you may be wondering how long hurricane season lasts, and how to be prepared. In Southwest Florida, hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th. That means there are six entire months with the possibility of intense and devastating storms. Is your home ready for the hurricane season months? If not, we’ll help you get there.
How to Prepare Your AC for a Hurricane
Hurricanes come in many forms, from the lowest level 1 hurricane to the highest level 5. Even level 1 hurricanes can produce winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour, leaving your home at risk for damage. A level 5 hurricane can produce winds of 157 miles per hour or higher. And that’s not taking into account the high level of rains that will accompany these storms. You may think your AC unit doesn’t stand a chance against such conditions, but it’s actually possible for it to survive, provided that you take some precautionary steps to protect it. Not doing so can result in the need to replace the entire system, a task that will come with a hefty price.
Secure the outdoor unit: Most air conditioners in Southwest Florida are installed with hurricane straps. If for some reason your unit was not, do so before hurricane season. These straps will hold the unit in place during the high winds to come.
Clean up your yard and cover the unit: Before the storm hits, you want to be sure you clear your yard of any items, like toys, tools, or sticks that could blow around and hit the outdoor unit, potentially causing damage. You’ll also want to find a fitted cover for your unit, if possible, to help protect it during the storm. If you can’t find a cover, a tarp secured with bungee cords should do the trick.
Schedule maintenance: You should already be scheduling yearly maintenance for your AC system, but if you’re behind on yours, you should definitely be sure it’s done before hurricane season. A professional HVAC technician will check the system for any maintenance or electrical issues and take care of them before a storm strikes, so you aren’t piling new damage on top of old damage. Electrical damage like loose or frayed wires, are especially important to address as they can pose a major safety hazard during a storm and otherwise.
Precool your home: As the storm is approaching, it’s usually a good idea to bump your thermostat down a few degrees lower than normal and allow your home to cool to a colder temperature than you otherwise would allow it to. This ensures that when you power your unit off during the storm, your home will stay cooler for longer, keeping your home more comfortable until the storm passes.
Power off the system: Right before the storm moves in, it’s imperative that you turn your AC system off, cutting all electricity to it. The best way to ensure this is by turning it off at the circuit breaker. A hurricane can cause severe power surges that could fry your unit or result in electrical fires. Not to mention that erratic power failures can do major damage to important AC components, like the compressor. Be sure to not turn your AC system back on until the storm has passed completely.
What to Do After the Storm
As soon as the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, be sure to do a thorough check of your AC unit before powering it back on. Look for any damage that may have been caused by water or flying debris. If everything looks like it’s in good shape, be sure to turn your unit back on as soon as possible. If you let your AC sit idle for too long after a storm, you run the risk of mold and bacteria forming in your unit and ducts. The high heat and high moisture of a hurricane present the perfect environment for such growth, but you can prevent it by getting your unit back on as quickly as possible. If you have any additional questions about how to prepare your AC system for hurricane season, or you need service after a hurricane has damaged your unit, be sure to call BHS right away.