Flooding is an annual problem in Houston, TX, and neighboring cities. Regardless of its underlying causes, flooding threatens our lives as well as our homes and appliances that have outdoor components, like the AC system.
Although floods can occur anytime during the year, they become more frequent and severe during the hurricane season. Lasting from June through November, the hurricane season opens a large window of opportunity for a flood to wreak havoc on your home and air conditioner. Since the hurricane season is also the time of the year when your AC system plays an important role in keeping your home comfortable, let’s find out how you can protect your air conditioner from inclement weather.
Proactive Steps to Safeguard Your AC System This Summer
While the AC’s outdoor unit is designed for exposure to the elements, heavy rains, flying debris, and flooding can put it at risk for damage. To help you prevent an interruption in operation as you wait for repairs as well as potentially high repair costs, here are a few steps you can take to protect your AC system during a storm.
Elevate your AC’s outdoor unit
If you’re planning to lift your Houston home before the hurricane season begins, elevating your AC’s outdoor unit as part of the same project will be more cost-effective. But if you decide to elevate just the outdoor unit, one essential aspect you should be aware of is that the unit must be raised above the BFE recommended for your area. The contractor will need to survey your property in order to determine the height of the concrete or masonry base that must be built. Once placed on the new base, the unit must be properly secured to the platform. That’s because a loose outdoor unit can get blown away by strong winds. Another option you have to protect the unit from flooding is to relocate it to the attic, as long as there is sufficient ventilation. However, relocating your AC’s outdoor unit to another area will involve extending the refrigerant line as well as the supply and return ducts between the air handler and condenser unit. As a result, you might need to hire multiple contractors, including a carpenter, electrician, and HVAC technician.
Enclose the unit
If you don’t intend to elevate your AC’s outdoor unit anytime soon, you can choose to enclose it. Building a watertight structure around the unit can protect it from flying debris, heavy rain, and flooding during storms. To prevent performance issues, a minimum distance of 24 inches between the enclosure and each side of the unit should be maintained. As well, sufficient space for servicing must be ensured. Before a storm, the enclosure cover must be anchored securely to the structure in order to prevent rainwater from entering and damaging the unit. Once the storm passes, the cover should be removed, so any moisture trapped inside can evaporate. You should also have a check valve installed. This valve prevents floodwaters from entering the enclosure while permitting any water accumulating inside to exit. Cutting the power as soon as a storm rolls in will also protect your AC system from potential electrical surges.
Have a sump pump installed in your crawlspace
If your AC’s outdoor unit is located in your crawlspace, you can protect it from potential floods by simply opting for a sump pump. Installed in a basin or specially constructed sump pit, this pump collects the water that accumulates in the basin or pit and removes it through a discharge pipe. It’s important to know that sump pumps don’t run all the time. They turn on automatically and begin pumping once there is enough water in the basin or pit.
Keep your yard neat and tidy
If you’ve been planting different plants, flowers, and trees to accent your home’s exterior, properly landscaping the perimeter of your home can help you prevent yard flooding. Why is this important? In a nutshell, a flooded yard could lead to all sorts of problems, including foundation issues and water damage throughout your home. As well, standing water around your AC’s outdoor unit can damage its internal components. While there are different measures you can take in order to avoid flooding in your yard, make sure that you also remove the vegetation growing too close to the unit. As well, trim back any overhanging branches of trees or shrubs that could damage the unit.
If despite all these measures, floodwaters still reach your AC’s outdoor unit, you should have your entire system inspected by an HVAC technician before use. Once the professional inspects both the outdoor and indoor units and performs any necessary repairs, your AC system should be working like new again. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to elevate your Houston home and AC’s outdoor unit in order to protect them from potential floods in the future, feel free to call us today! Having extensive experience in the industry, our experts are able to come up with additional ideas that could help you improve the safety of your Houston home and outdoor equipment during the hurricane season.