If you live in an area that suffers from extreme weather conditions, and especially winter storms, the external element of your HVAC unit or heat pump, the compressor, is exposed to all the elements and, as a consequence, risks being damaged. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to mitigate such risks of damage.
First off, with winter storms, there is often the chance of a power outage. If that is likely, it is best to switch off your HVAC unit or heat pump as if there is then any damage caused to the external unit, when the power comes back on, there won’t be any risks of a short circuit when the HVAC unit or heat pump tries to fire up.
There is always the possibility that you have put a sturdy cage or shelter over the external unit for your heat pump or HVAC unit. That is always a sensible move, especially if you live in an area where there are lots of trees as flying branches is one of the major causes of damage to such units. However, don’t rely 100% on such a cage or cover. After any storm, you should check the external unit for any signs of damage, and to also ensure that the cage or cover are free from any debris as it is important for air to be able to circulate freely around the unit. If there is any damage to the cage or shelter, make sure this also gets fixed.
If there has been a high wind, typically around 150mph, there is also the chance your external HVAC or heat pump unit may have actually been momentarily lifted off its base. The power of the wind can be deceptively strong, so it is also worth checking any external pipework for signs of damage that will have been caused if the main external unit has moved, even if, ultimately, it is resting back in its original position. If the wind was strong enough to blow the unit over, one of the major casualties is likely to be the refrigerant, which may have escaped through a fractured or broken pipe. It is critical that you do not try and fire up the HVAC unit or heat pump if refrigerant has escaped.
While the cage surrounding your HVAC’s external compressor may protect it against large chunks of flying debris, because it is a cage that enables free flow of air around the unit, this automatically allows smaller debris, such as leaves and twigs to be blown into the cage. These can then get trapped between the fins of the external condenser unit and either damage it, or impair functionality. The fortunate thing is that all this debris can be removed with a garden hose, but best done by a professional who will make sure that no additional damage to your unit is caused.
If you’ve recently been through a storm and are unsure if your heat pump or HVAC unit has escaped unharmed, why not give us a call at A&E Air Conditioning and Heating. We’ll be happy to come out and inspect your unit and advise you if any further action is needed.