Being Prepared For a Hurricane
Although we just experienced a major hurricane here in Indian Trail, that does not mean you should be lax about being prepared in the event of another one.
With Atlantic hurricane season officially running from June 1 through November 30, you need to always have a plan––of what to do before, during, and after the storm. And though it may not be at the forefront of your plans, it’s important to know what to do about your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system for hurricane readiness to help minimize damage.
Your HVAC system is a major investment, and you want to do whatever is feasible to protect it from possible hurricane damage. We at Union Services want to share the steps to take to keep your system safe (well, as safe as is possible) during hurricane season.
Before a Hurricane
Even prior to hurricane season, there are steps you can take for your HVAC system:
- Schedule your HVAC maintenance. As an owner of an HVAC system, you should already be doing annual maintenance on your system––both your heating and cooling systems––to keep it all working well. This means your furnace, boiler, heat pump, and air conditioner—whatever you have. Having your air conditioner maintenance performed before hurricane season even arrives is smart. During the appointment, one of our professional technicians will tighten any loose components and be sure everything is battened down. You can also ask our expert to repair any areas where water might seep in and cause damage.
- Take care of yard work. In addition to your normal yard routine, assess your trees and shrubbery. If there are any loose or old branches that could break during a strong wind, be sure to remove them.The same holds for any vegetation that’s near your equipment. Take care to remove it from the vicinity, so it won’t break and damage your outdoor components.
- Consider investing in a backup generator. If your power is out after a storm, a generator will help get you through til your power is back. Many North Carolina generators can be installed with strong storms in mind, utilizing enclosures and housing units that protect them during severe weather. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), place your generator outside in an area where it has three to four feet clearance on all sides for proper ventilation for safety reasons.
These days, hurricane-season forecasters are really good at predicting hurricanes. In most cases, you’ll have notice of a hurricane days, if not weeks, in advance. When you’re at the “days ahead” notification, here are steps we recommend:
- Invest in either hurricane straps or metal brackets to secure your outdoor unit. Some homeowners prefer a protective cage for the ultimate in security. As you know, those winds are quite strong, and you want your equipment to stay put with as little damage as possible.
- Double check your equipment’s immediate vicinity for debris. With extreme winds, most anything can be airlifted and cause damage. Be sure to remove any bigger/heavier vegetation or items near by your unit for safety reasons.
During a Hurricane
Of course, during a hurricane, your immediate priority is your personal safety. But while a hurricane is still on its way, we recommend you:
- Turn your air conditioner on high for a couple hours prior to turning it off. Many times during a hurricane, you’ll lose power. So turning the temperature down lower than normal for a while will cool your home and help keep it cool during your power outage.
- Cover your outdoor equipment with a tarp and bungee cord. Or, if you have the time and materials, board the unit up completely to protect it from water and debris. This all may help keep water, silt, and debris out and protect your system.
- Turn off your HVAC system. Or better yet, turn off the power to your system. This will protect your system from any electrical surges that could occur during the storm.
- Turn off your gas if you’re evacuating. This helps to prevent leaks from occurring.
After a Hurricane
Immediately following a hurricane, perform an intake of your home and any damage that may have occurred. Once immediate damage and dangers are addressed, evaluate your HVAC system:
- Remove any blown debris from the outdoor system’s immediate vicinity. Assess for any damage.
- Remove protective tarp or covering from outdoor system. Assess for any damage.
- Check water levels if flooding occurred. If either your indoor or outdoor units are standing in water, do not turn systems on. Call one of our professionals to assess the level of water damage and for guidance on water removal. If your systems are not standing in water but they were affected by water, also call one of our experts to come out. Water damage, including any silt or small debris brought in with the water, might not be seen but can cause severe damage that may not even show up for weeks. Also, HVAC units and ductwork can allow dangerous mold and bacteria to breed from the incoming waters. It’s imperative to have your system inspected by one of our certified technicians.
- Call your insurance company, if necessary. Any damage from the hurricane needs to be reported to your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Have patience. Remember your neighbors are in the same situation, so the different industries’ professionals are going to be in high demand everywhere. You want them all to do their jobs in a timely manner, but you also don’t want them to take any shortcuts just to appease the volume of requests. Shortcuts lead to mistakes and oversights.
Contact Us Now for Help
Following a hurricane, everyone’s working to restore life back to normal. As frustrating as it all may be, keep this in mind and utilize patience. Call our professionals to help you at 704-283-9047 or request service online. You can count on us at Union Services, so call us for any of your HVAC needs at here in the Indian Trail, NC, area.