Air Conditioning Inspection Needed After The Storms
Many people depend on their air conditioners, and that was never more true than during the recent months when the hot and humid Gulf Coast was wracked with hurricanes and floods. After the waters receded, many homeowners were just grateful that their air conditioners began working again. But according to the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), even if an AC unit that seems to have made it through the storms and floods unscathed, there may be serious issues that are going unnoticed. Storm-damaged units, especially those that were underwater for any length of time, can cause fire hazards, affect indoor air quality, and cause other serious issues. It is important to get an Air Conditioning Inspection after a big storm to make sure there are no hidden dangers.
Dave Hutchins, the owner and president of Bay Area Air Conditioning Inc. in Crystal River, Florida suggests getting your unit checked out as soon as possible, preferably by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inspector while they are in town.
“If [you] wait, it may not be covered,” Hutchins said. Another aspect is that air conditioning manufacturers’ warranties do not always cover flood and water damage.
“People who choose not to do anything now might have problems two or two and a half years later,” according to Hutchins. Salt water can cause problems with the electrical components in the control box and coil.
Another reason for an Air Conditioning Inspection is that any unit that was exposed to flooding, even to fresh water, can still have invisible damage to their electrical parts. This poses potential fire risks, according to the AHRI. Any system submerged in floodwaters could also contain substantial amounts of dirt and debris, including various types of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Moisture can even collect in system components that were not completely submerged, like air ducts and vents; this can also provide a perfect habitat for harmful microorganisms.
Stephen Yurek, AHRI president and CEO, said, “Standing water in a yard, house, or basement can damage a home’s heating and cooling equipment in ways that are not always readily apparent, putting families at risk.”
The AHRI suggests these tips for homeowners; it is important to note that these tips are not specific to the Gulf Coast. Any family or business that may be affected by flooding at any time should be aware of these tips, and take appropriate steps to protect themselves.
- “Have a licensed technician inspect the AC unit’s electrical components, including the ducts, for mold or water.”
- “Ask in advance what the cost of an inspection is, and when possible, get two quotes. The company’s license number should be on its website, vehicles, printed material, and in advertising.”
- “Ask about pricing. Each home or business is different. The size of the home or building is the most important factor in determining price, but many other issues come into play. If you are able, get two quotes and ask for advice based on your personal needs and budget.”
- “If the unit is beyond repair and requires replacement, timing is important. Homeowners should consider whether it is best to wait until other storm-related [or flood-related] projects – such as drywall work – is complete and any hardwood floors are sanded. Circulating dust and debris through a new AC system can lead to contamination.”
When in doubt, contact your certified AC technician, and be sure to be upfront about your situation. There may be solutions that your technician can recommend if you are trying to pick up the pieces after adisaster. Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help.