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Worried About Floods? How to Protect Your HVAC Unit
Newcastle averages 79 sunny days per year with approximately 141 partly sunny days. Thanks to Newcastle's warm, humid climate during the summer, most residents enjoy a variety of outdoor activities from surfing to climbing to hiking.
But come winter, the weather turns harsh; some areas receive gale-force winds strong enough to knock out power lines. Other areas experience heavy rains that flood homes and wash out streets.
As a homeowner, you naturally want to protect your property from the inclement weather. You understandably feel concerned about your air conditioning unit, in particular, as it must withstand everything from large hailstones to flash floods.
Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure your HVAC unit weathers the worst Mother Nature can throw at it.
3 Ways to Protect Your Unit
Although you can try multiple techniques to save your air conditioner, here are three ways to start:
1. Build a Taller Concrete Foundation
Your outdoor appliance requires a concrete foundation strong enough to support its heavy materials. Most contractors lay this base so it remains flush with your ground or a few centimetres above it. But if you worry about flooding, you can request that your contractor build the base several centimetres (or even metres) taller so it rests above the typical flood zone.
Newcastle city management has assessed the flood risks for different parts of the city. You can use their guides and floodplain risk management plans available to decide the right height for your unit's foundation.
2. Move the Unit to the Roof
Many contractors prefer to install outdoor air conditioning units on the ground next to the home. This position allows technicians and homeowners easier access to the condenser, compressor and cooling fan. However, you can ask that your contractor install your new unit on the rooftop rather than on the ground. The extra elevation ensures your unit stays well above the average flood line.
Keep in mind that your HVAC unit may require additional drainage pipes, wiring and ductwork to remain functional if you place it on the roof. And you may have a hard time reaching your unit should you wish to clean it yourself.
3. Construct a Barrier Wall
If you can't build your concrete base any higher, or if you can't afford to move your air conditioner to the rooftop, consider constructing a wall around your unit. If installed properly, a wall will redirect flood water away from your air conditioner and serve as a barrier against hurricane-force winds.
As you would with the concrete base, you'll want to learn about you area's floodplain risk to determine the best height for your wall. And you'll need to determine a way for technicians to enter and exit the enclosure for repairs.
Did Your Unit Flood Anyway?
Even with these safety measures in place, extreme weather can still flood your outdoor air conditioning unit. If this incident should happen to you, take the following steps:
1. Disconnect the Electricity
Water conducts electricity, so for your own safety, disconnect all breakers and turn off all switches related to your air conditioner. Most units have a fuse block, pull lever or switch box nearby, but if necessary, you can also use your circuit breaker to disconnect the power.
2. Allow It to Dry
Still see standing water around or near your unit? Remove as much of it as possible. You may need to use a shop vacuum to siphon away the water, or you can soak it up with a few old towels. Afterward, you can simply allow your unit to air dry.
Have too much water to handle? If your unit has several centimetres of water flowing through it, or if it is completely submerged, you'll want to hire a trained water damage restoration team to dry the area.
3. Hire a Technician to Inspect It
Most units can handle a few centimetres of flood water without suffering too much damage. Typical parts use steel, aluminium or copper treated with special coatings to resist weather and water. But you should always exercise caution when dealing with flooded electrical equipment, so hire a professional to inspect the unit for frayed or cracked parts. Your technician can then identify whether the air conditioner only needs a simple cleaning or if you should shop for a new unit entirely.