Protect Your Home’s HVAC System from Spring Storms

spring stormHere in southwest Ohio, once spring arrives, it brings with it powerful and dangerous storms and even tornadoes. Most of us are familiar with the first rule for protecting you and your family from strong storms (find shelter, fast!). However, you don’t want to forget about other rules and guidelines. Some of them are directly related to protecting your home’s HVAC system.

Here are some time-tested tips for preparing for those spring thunder-bumpers:

  • If you know a storm is coming soon, shut down your home’s cooling (or heating) system at the circuit box. For window AC units, unplug and remove the appliance from the window, along with any accessories. Make sure the window is sealed. Shut down electrical circuit/breakers to the AC unit to avoid damage. If you have enough warning, you can turn down the AC a few degrees to over-cool the house before you have to shut down the HVAC. That way you’ll extend interior comfort by a short period.
  • Cover the AC or heat pump’s outside unit with a secure tarp or plywood, to avoid storm debris from blowing into the equipment and damaging it. It’s vitally important that you secure any cover tightly, however, so a strong wind won’t blow it away, creating a dangerous hazard.
  • One of the biggest storm hazards is power surges and/or lightning strikes. Protect your HVAC system and equipment and other home appliances, including TVs and computers. Employ individual power strips for equipment and systems or consider investing in a point-of-entry surge protector to secure your entire home from an external power surge. If you have sufficient warning of an electrical storm heading your way, unplug valuable electronics and appliances.

Other Tips for Preparing for a Spring Storm

These aren’t related to your HVAC system, but safety is safety. Remember these tips to protect you and yours during an oncoming spring or summer storm (many of these would apply to a winter storm as well).

  • Have an emergency kit ready, with plenty of drinking water, coolers for food storage, emergency blankets, a battery-operated radio, fully charged cell-phones, and a full tank of gas in the car. Consider buying a phone charge for your car, since this is one way to re-juice your cell-phone if it runs out of battery power.
  • Prior to the storm arriving, but with it still at a safe distance, go out in the yard and remove any items that may become dangerous, flying debris in strong winds. This include children’s toys, lawn chairs and other furniture, yard tools, etc.
  • It should go without saying; bring your pets inside.
  • During the storm, stay away from windows and sliding doors.

Remember, when it comes to home safety, the rule should always be “better safe than sorry.” Be safe out there this spring!