How to Hurricane-Proof Your Air Conditioner
When those of us on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts prepare for hurricane season, we think about our insurance policies and whether we’re prepared to board up our windows. But hurricane preparedness should anticipate more than just flying debris and downed trees. Your air conditioning system is especially vulnerable to hurricane conditions, and for reasons you might not have considered.
Three Ways To Protect Your AC System In A Hurricane
Your air conditioner’s external components are meant to stand up to nasty weather. After all, their job is to create huge swings in temperature and to do it in rain or shine. A properly installed AC system is so low to the ground that it probably doesn’t face much threat from hurricane-level winds, either.
But power outages associated with strong storms like hurricanes, and the surges that can affect devices when power is restored, can cause serious damage to your system. This is especially true of its most complex and expensive component, the compressor.
The most important thing you can do to protect your air conditioner during a hurricane is to shut it off. There’s no benefit to doing so hours before you must: remember that you’re protecting your system against the effects of power outages, not against the hurricane itself. Keep tabs on the storm’s progress; if you’re planning to stay put, consider dropping your AC’s temperature settings to extra-cold for a while (your neighbors will probably be doing the same thing). When the storm hits—this could mean that the wind picks up or that the lights flicker—turn off power to your air conditioner at the breaker box. You might also want to unplug any other household devices not connected to a surge protector.
During the storm, do not turn your air conditioner on. Even if power seems to be flowing to your neighborhood, it may be subject to fluctuations that can wreak havoc on your air conditioner. Hurricanes and other heavy storms simply place demands on a municipal power system that it can’t handle without subjecting residents to some dips and spikes. Simple devices like lightbulbs can handle dips in voltage and current gracefully: they just get dimmer, or flicker. Your AC’s compressor, though, could suffer permanent damage from the same conditions.
After the storm has passed and power is reliably restored, it’s best to turn your air conditioner on as soon as possible. This is a less crucial step than the others, but it’s best practice to get air and coolant moving through the system as soon as you can. If you’ve had to leave your home for a while (and you’ve remembered to disconnect power to your AC and other devices), no worries. Just be sure to confirm as quickly as possible that your system is working properly.
If worse comes to worst and your air conditioner sustained obvious damage during the storm, turn off the power immediately at the breaker box, and don’t restore it until all damaged components are fixed or replaced. Give us a call, and we’ll assess your AC system, perform any maintenance you might need, and restore your home to the comfort you enjoyed before the storm.