Hurricane season is here. And so far, we have escaped the path of some very destructive storms. But that doesn’t mean we are in the clear just yet. As we all know by now, hurricanes can strengthen at the very last minute, which sometimes means you have very little time to prepare. We recommend always being ready, not only with food and water, but also making sure your house is properly prepared to handle the storm. 

Before we get into the technical stuff, we want to start by stating that a hurricane or even a bad thunderstorm can cause lightning strikes. These strikes, depending where they hit, can cause extensive damage to the HVAC system of your home. If this happens to you, the first thing you must do is assess the damage. While some signs of damage will be obvious, others will not be. 

Signs of HVAC damage after a storm: 

  • Unit is making strange noises: If you hear strange rattling or buzzing noises, this could be an indicator of a big problem. It could simply mean debris has blown in your unit from the storm, or it could be a sign of internal damage to components like the fan or compressor. 
  • AC Unit isn’t cooling your home properly: If you notice your home not cooling like it did before the storm, chances are there is damage somewhere inside your unit. The most common reason for this is a damaged or leaking refrigerant line. 
  • Flooded Unit: This problem is very easy to spot. If your HVAC system is not working and you see water pooled around it, then your unit has been flooded. 
  • Electrical problems at the breaker box: Sudden electrical issues can trip a breaker. Your breaker box is the first thing you should check when your system isn’t working. But if your breaker keeps tripping after you have fixed it, you will need to call a professional. 
  • Evidence of a power surge: Power surges are a common occurrence during hurricanes. Did lightning strike near your home? Did you lose any electronic products like a television or computer? A power surge can fry a capacitor, burn up fuses and wires, and cause compressor damage. Voltage issues can cause the most damage to your HVAC system. 

“As we move into hurricane season, I would like to offer some advice on how to protect your HVAC system from voltage issues out of your control. Also, with the growing number of stand-by generators being installed, it is even more important to protect these high tech systems,” says Jim East, owner of JW East Mechanical. “The old ‘hard start kits’ that many contractors have installed in the past no longer meet the growing need to protect the high-dollar electronic components that are not only in your outdoor units, but also in the heating systems.” 

We recommend installing a device that helps protect your HVAC system from dangerous high voltage strikes that come with hurricanes. 

“There is not a silver bullet that fits every system,” says East. “It takes a professional to offer the right control to protect your system. One of the controls we use and recommend is made by ICM Controls. We recommend one for the cooling system and one for the heating system.” 

A good protection device will do the following: 

  • Reduce in-rush current draw necessary at startup. In-rush is the maximum instantaneous input current drawn by an electrical device when first turned on. By using a device that reduces this maximum output of energy, you will save money on your monthly bills. 
  • Reduces loud noises on startup 
  • Over / Under voltage monitoring. This means monitoring system health, including voltage, current, compressor startup and integrity. Upon a fault condition, it will halt operation and initiate a three-minute, anti-short cycle routine while providing diagnostic fault information by means of an LED indicator.
  • Compressor soft start. This will reduce the starting current of the compressor by actively controlling the current in both the run and start windings.

Now is the time to have a professional out to inspect your HVAC system. We will determine areas of vulnerability and will make recommendations to keep your system running efficiently. Call the experts at JW East today!