According to research conducted by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Tampa Bay Area is one of the top 5 most vulnerable cities to hurricanes. We haven’t had a direct hit in Tampa since 1921, but even unnamed storms have been known to do damage to coastal homes and properties along the shallow Tampa Bay. Still, there are others who refer to the dreaded “100-year storm” and according to them, we’re just about due.
Relying on the fact that we haven’t been hit in nearly a century is no protection from a storm. Instead, you need to be prepared. AC units can sustain damage in strong deluges and high winds. It doesn’t take a hurricane or tropical storm in Tampa for that.
As we prepare for the upcoming hurricane season and potentially ride out the storm together, here’s how you can prep your air conditioner for bad weather. Remember, we “celebrate” hurricane season for half our year from June 1st to November 30th in Florida. Don’t power through it by wishing and hoping. Be prepared with these pre- and post-hurricane air conditioner tips.
7 Ways to Prepare Your AC for Storms in Florida
Cool Your Home Before the Storm
Turn Off the Electricity or Unplug Your Unit
Cover Your AC Unit with a Tarp or Plywood
Secure or Elevate the Unit
Watch for Rising Tides and Standing Water
Do Not Turn Your AC on After Storm
Ask an AC Professional to Inspect & Repair Your AC
If there’s a pretty big storm headed to Tampa, then cool your home before the storm hits because there’s a good chance you could lose power. We joke that it’s not the storm that scares most people, but the idea of weathering even a few hours without AC. No one wants to sit in the sweltering heat and humidity without air conditioning during a summer storm, so setting your thermostat to a few degrees colder than the usual temperature, drawing the blinds, and keeping doors and windows shut will keep you comfortable for a little while.
Many people believe if there’s tornadic activity, you should open all of your windows. Generally, it’s better to get sheltered in a secure place than run around opening them. In fact, opening windows can be an issue during hurricanes for older homes because it often leads to roof failures.
Electricity is the biggest issue to attend to when prepping your air conditioning unit before a storm. It’s suggested that you turn off your electricity or unplug the AC unit prior to a hurricane. If you don’t, you risk damaging your AC through electrical surges caused by lightning strikes or burning out the motor should debris paralyze your air conditioner. Plus, in a large storm, there’s a very good chance you’ll lose electricity anyway. Be safe and shut it off before you do.
High-speed winds can send flying debris toward your outdoor unit. It’s important to cover your air conditioner with a tarp or plywood if there are branches, trees, and potential hazards in your area. And bring your deck furniture in as well. You’d be surprised the kind of damage a plastic chair flying 75 miles an hour and headed for your AC can do.
With winds over 74 miles per hour during hurricanes, an air conditioning unit can be easily moved by a storm, particularly if it’s on a platform on your second story as is the case with many newer, high-end homes in Tampa. It’s recommended that you use hurricane straps or condenser straps to secure your unit and avoid “lift-off” in the case of high-speed winds. Air conditioners in Florida are required to be elevated atop a concrete slab upon installation, but if there is a threat of flood, it might be necessary to elevate your unit further to avoid water damage.
After the storm, here’s what you need to do to ensure safe operation of your air conditioner:
It doesn’t take a hurricane in Tampa Bay to cause flooding in our streets. Sometimes that happens from a mid-afternoon rain “shower.” Many newer homes have elevated air conditioning units, but if yours is on the ground be aware of potential flooding.
Not only can flooding damage the unit but it can wash debris inside as well that could cause problems if you turn the air conditioner on. If you’ve experienced more than 12-18 inches of standing water around your air conditioning unit, call a reliable AC technician before trying to operate it.
It’s important that you DO NOT turn on your air conditioning after a storm until you have accessed the damage. There is a possibility that debris or water damage will need to be repaired before you can turn your AC unit back on. Allowing electricity to enter could damage the unit even further.
High winds can also cause disconnections within the air conditioner, which could lead to air conditioning refrigerant leaks. These are dangerous and could be toxic and are something you’ll want an AC technician to address.
If you believe your air conditioning unit has been damaged during a hurricane or storm, or you just want to ensure your AC is operational, then request that an AC technician come out for an air conditioning inspection in your Tampa Bay area home. They will have the necessary information to advise you of any air conditioning repairs or maintenance that may be needed before the unit is fully operational again.
Do you need AC repair in Tampa before or after a storm?
Extend the life of your HVAC system with AC repair in Tampa before and after the hurricane or storm.
If you have experienced a tropical storm, hurricane, high winds, standing water or any other weather issue at your Tampa residence call one of our expert 24-hour AC repair technicians to come out. Our schedules fill up quickly so don’t wait expecting your unit’s “issues” will clear up with the skies. Turning a unit back on after a severe storm can lead to further damage. Be sure it’s safe by consulting an air conditioning expert first.
Want priority AC repair service during a time that may be very busy? Easy AC would like to invite you to sign up and become a preferred member with our EZ Breezy Club.