Preparing Your A/C Unit for Hurricane Season
Living in South Florida means living with the threat of hurricanes during hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, with peak season running from late August to September. Floridians have many strategies for weathering these storms, but they often neglect their AC unit while they’re focused on the more general preparedness strategies (which we detail below, as well). The All Year Cooling family wants you to be safe for this hurricane season and we’ll be available to you in case of any AC unit emergencies before and after a storm. Call us at 888-752-4590 for service!
During a severe storm, your AC system is vulnerable to:
- Interior and exterior unit damage
- Fire damage
- Electrical shock
Remember, your AC unit is open to the elements in order to allow for airflow. This means that strong winds, lashing rain, and debris can damage your system during a storm. Basic preparedness can save you a lot of time and money with your AC unit, just as shuttering your windows or laying sandbags for your entryways will.
Before we go into the details of specifically what to do to prepare your AC unit before and after a storm, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer a general strategy for making it through a hurricane. First, the basic supplies you’ll need:
- Food – canned and nonperishable
- Battery-powered radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries, backup power supplies for smartphones/devices
- Manual can opener for food
- Clean clothes to last you at least two weeks (due to power outages, you may not be able to use a washer and dryer).
This is by no means an exhaustive supply list, so make sure to go the Ready.gov site to get a more complete list of suggested supplies. Now that we’ve covered supplies, here are things to consider when a hurricane is in your area:
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed (this will help to preserve food and drinks for a short while)
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Use the phone for emergencies only (you want to preserve battery life)
- Moor your boat if time permits.
- Keep a supply of water for sanitation purposes.
- Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors; secure exterior doors.
- Avoid elevators! Power outages are expected.
- Listen to the radio or TV for information, especially if they announce a mandatory evacuation for your area, as detailed below:
If you’re directed by local authorities to evacuate, you must follow their protocol for doing so. Mobile home or temporary structure residents must evacuate; these structures, regardless of how well they seem fastened to the ground, are extremely vulnerable. The same can be said for those who live in a high-rise building; the higher your elevation, the stronger the hurricane winds. Evacuation is also generally mandatory for people who live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
Preparing Your AC Unit Before the Storm
Now that we’ve covered general preparedness, we can focus on the steps you should take in order prepare your AC unit. The following applies before the storm hits; later on we’ll discuss what to do after the storm passes. Before the storm, you should prep your AC by doing the following:
- Cool your home before the storm hits. We’re lucky to be able to see a hurricane coming several days before it hits. This is a good opportunity to lower your thermostat a few degrees cooler, close your blinds/windows, and generally just cool your home and try to keep it cool as you can expect a power outage during the storm, which means no AC, which means heat and humidity in South Florida.
- Turn off your AC right before the storm enters your area. If you have a wall unit, unplug it entirely. Turning off/unplugging your AC will protect it from a power surge that can lead to a fire hazard.
- Clean the area around your AC unit. You want to prevent/minimize exterior damage, so that means securing/removing loose objects that could fly into the unit.
- Use hurricane straps and a tarp to secure your outdoor unit and prevent rain/debris from damaging the unit.
Once you’ve weathered the storm, there are still several cautionary steps to be taken with regards to your AC.
- Don’t turn your AC on right away after a storm! It could be damaged/malfunctioning and turning it on can cause further damage.
- Investigate the are around your AC unit. This visual inspection will let you check for any obvious damage to your AC. If you see damage, it’s important to have it checked out by one of our HVAC professionals to ensure that it’s safe to operate.
- Has your unit moved? If you noticed that your AC unit has moved from its original position do not attempt to turn it on because it may be unsafe to operate due to loose plumbing or wiring.
If you encounter any of these issues after a hurricane, contact All Year Cooling immediately to get your air conditioning up and running as soon as possible!
Published: August 24, 2012, Revised: June 19, 2018