How to Protect Your HVAC System From Floods

August 20, 2019by admin
flooded road

The summer months can be quite rainy in Virginia, and it’s not uncommon to see some flooding. A little accumulation isn’t usually problematic, but what happens when your HVAC system is partially or fully submerged in water? If you’re not sure how to handle this situation, read on. Here are some ways to protect your HVAC unit from flooding.

Cut the Power

circuit breaker panel

It probably goes without saying, but electricity and water aren’t a good combination. That’s why it’s so important to cut power to your unit from the breaker panel if water is flowing around or over any components. This is especially true if it’s lightning outside. Aside from reducing the risk of injury or electrocution, you could prevent further damage to your HVAC system (if your HVAC is causing the flooding, read this article!).

The exterior parts are designed to withstand the elements, and likely won’t be affected by heavy rain or temporary flooding. The indoor unit, however, is comprised of many electrical controls and is less water resistant, leaving it more vulnerable to damage. In the event of flooding that reaches your indoor unit, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect the equipment as well as check for corrosion or faults.



Turn Off Your Thermostat

Even if you’ve shut off the breaker, thermostats equipped with a battery backup might still be operating at a reduced capacity. If electrical signals are being sent to the control boards and the control boards are submerged, it could be a problem.

The last thing you want is for moisture to continue to spread throughout your HVAC system and put it at risk of corrosion, rust or, electrical damage. Your heating and cooling unit is a huge investment — don’t take any chances!

Move Outdoor Furniture

messy lawn and broken furniture
Willard Losinger/

During storm season in Virginia, one of the most common ways HVAC systems are damaged is from being struck by outdoor furniture. Items such a toys, grills, and other lawn equipment or decorations can also be problematic. Ideally, these should be moved to a secure location, such as a garage, before a storm even begins.

If bad weather is already underway and you notice it beginning to flood, cut the power (you don’t want to be in standing water with the electricity still on) and carefully store the items somewhere safe. If, however, it’s difficult to move around or you feel as though you could be swept away, leave it alone. While your heating and cooling unit is important, it’s not worth the risk of getting hurt!



Clean Things Up

When the water has subsided and the skies are clear, you’ll want to do a visual inspection of your HVAC’s outdoor components. Prior to restoring power to the unit, it’s a good idea to see if the unit needs a good cleaning or clearing of debris. Keep an eye out for any signs of damage.

First, remove anything that accumulated during the heavy rains and/or flooding. This could be dirt, grass clippings, and leaves, for example. You may need to use your hose to get things squeaky clean, but your HVAC deserves a little TLC after such harsh exposure to the elements! It’s okay to use your hose to spray the outdoor unit off, but make sure it’s dry before restoring power to it.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Whether you can see damage or not, it’s good to get familiar with your homeowners or renters insurance policy to determine whether you have flood coverage. Many policies will exclude flood damage, but may provide relief if a tree were to fall on your unit, for example.

Be Proactive

If you’ve lived in Virginia any length of time, you already know that the rainy summers can be intense. Taking some proactive steps to safeguard your HVAC system can save you a lot of time and money. Here are some things you can do:

  • Move your outdoor unit to higher ground, preferably on an elevated concrete base.
  • Hire a contractor to build a wall around the unit.
  • Install a sump pump in your basement to prevent indoor flooding.
  • Keep your yard neat and tidy.
  • Trim or remove landscaping that encroaches on your HVAC.

Taking these actions before the storm clouds roll in is one of the best ways you can protect your home’s heating and cooling system from flood conditions.

Contact a Professional

The best thing you can do after your HVAC unit has been submerged under water is to contact a professional. Displaced wiring, electrical shorts, and failed capacitors are often inexpensive and easily fixed issues, while other problems might take a bit more effort. Only a licensed technician can properly inspect for damage, so please don’t try to troubleshoot yourself.

At the very least, if everything seems to be in working order, a professional can clean hidden debris found on the inside of the HVAC unit. Buildup can become a potential fire hazard, so it’s a good idea to have regular cleaning and maintenance, whether you’ve experienced flooding or not.

Has your HVAC system been “acting funny” since the last storm blew through? Don’t let the problem get worse — call W.G. Speeks today. Our NATE-certified technicians have been providing excellent customer service to the Greater Richmond Region for more than 75 years. We’re here to help!

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