Addressing HVAC Flood Damage After Hurricane Harvey
As lifelong Houstonians, we have never witnessed the fury and destruction that Hurricane Harvey left in its wake. Widespread flooding and fuel shortages has made travel difficult to say nothing of closed grocery stores, an absence of mail service, and limited supplies, water, and power. While our family got through the worst with minimal damage, we have neighbors, friends and customers who have been affected and will be for the months to come. If your home was flooded, here’s what you need to know about how to get your HVAC system back online.
Consider Your Safety
Homes that are flooded likely also have air conditioning and heating equipment that is also damaged. We recommended in a previous post to turn off the power to your HVAC system at the breaker box for safety and this goes for any electrical device in your home as well. If your breaker trips, don’t reset it before you get it inspected by a locally, licensed professional for your own safety. If your home is under water, it is likely that the power is cut off to your neighborhood. Turning off the power can limit risks of electrocution that could be hidden in murky flood waters before flood waters recede.
Water and electrical equipment are dangerous together, and water can cause oxidation, rust, and corrosion to parts that keep your furnace, water heater, and air conditioner working safely and properly. This is why we recommend having a licensed professional inspect your equipment before you turn them back on. The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) recommends replacing your HVAC system altogether if it has been flooded for safety purposes. You may be able to salvage your air conditioner if your flooding was not severe *and* the outdoor electrical compressor and electrical components are high and dry. The outdoor unit is built to withstand some outdoor moisture. It is particularly important to replace your gas-powered furnace or water heater if they were flooded because the mechanical and electrical integrity has been compromised.
The good news is that any new equipment you purchase is going to be much more energy efficient and you will have the latest eco-friendly refrigerant Puron. Many older machines that use the older refrigerant, R-22 or Freon, face tough choices as that refrigerant is phased out and becomes more expensive.
All air conditioning manufacturers offer warranties on their equipment in varying amounts. Unfortunately, warranties do not cover equipment damaged by floods and catastrophic events. Manufacturers cover the quality of their craftsmanship with their warranty. Insurance, on the other hand, covers damage from accidents or unpredictable circumstances such as hurricanes and floods. Manufacturers expect that a home or business owner will use the insurance on their home or business to cover replacement costs in those situations. In this case, you will work with your home insurance provider or business insurance provider to file a claim.
If your home was not flooded and your air conditioner is not working properly, it could be a result of damaged electronic components due to power flickers and surges. These repairs are common after a large storm. Warranty service may be possible for electrical component/motors that were not submerged. We can’t underscore enough the importance of one or more surge protectors, and we always install them on new systems for that reason. You may also be eligible for rebates and specials from A/C manufacturers.
Federal programs and nonprofits offer additional help during these extraordinary circumstances. Here’s a few links related to homes and businesses.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers financial assistance to individuals with home repairs not covered by insurance and low-interest loans in addition to other services to help get you back on your feet. Apply at DisasterAssistance.gov.
- The Texas Workforce Commission offered Disaster Unemployment Assistance for “workers who lost their jobs and self-employed individuals who have been unable to work due to damage sustained from Hurricane Harvey.”
- Foreclosure and Mortgage relief and other services are available from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- National Flood Insurance Program, administered by FEMA, is providing advanced payments to help get recovery efforts going more quickly. They are also extending the grace period for policy premium renewals.
We Can Help
If you are in the market for a professional inspection or repair of your HVAC system or a new system altogether, call Terry’s A/C and Heating at (281) 495-7830 for a custom quote. Learn things to know BEFORE you replace your unit, and check out our seasonal specials. We would love the opportunity to earn your business and get your home or business cooling and heating properly.