Flooding and severe water damage can occur for a variety of reasons whether it be heavy rains or because a pipe burst inside or outside your home. Some parts of Long Island are also prone to flooding from high tides caused by major storms. No matter what the cause, flooding and water damage can wreak havoc on your home’s heating and cooling systems potentially rendering them inoperable and forcing you to spend lots of money on repairs or to have everything replaced. If you do ever experience flooding or major water damage that impacts your HVAC system, here is everything you need to know about what steps you should take and what your options are for restoring your system so you again have heating or AC.
Steps to Take After Flooding or Water Damage
If you ever experience flooding in your home, it is important that you don’t go inside until all of the water recedes. Entering a flooded building can be extremely dangerous as there is a major risk of electrocution unless the power is out. Once you can safely go back inside, you should immediately shut the power off to your HVAC system by flipping the circuit breaker in your electrical panel. This is important for ensuring that the system can’t turn on as you never want to run your HVAC system again after flooding or water damage until it has been fully inspected by a certified technician.
If you have a gas furnace, you will also want to close the valve on the gas line that supplies the unit to prevent a potential gas leak. Gas leaks can easily occur after a furnace was exposed to flooding since water will normally ruin the unit’s internal gas valves and potentially keep them from closing as they should.
Once you’ve ensured that everything is shut off and no more gas or electricity flows to your heating and cooling system, you will then want to contact an emergency HVAC repair service to schedule an inspection. Whenever any part of your HVAC system is exposed to flooding, at least some components will need to be replaced. If you try to turn the system on again before it’s been inspected, you’re almost certain to cause more damage and make the restoration process more difficult and more expensive.
How to Know If Repair or Replacement Is the Better Option
The Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute always recommends that you completely replace any flood-damaged parts of your HVAC system. However, there are times when you may be able to repair and restore your HVAC system without needing to replace your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump. In most cases, it all depends on how high the flood waters were and how long the unit was exposed to water.
It is also important to consider the total cost of all necessary repairs as well as the age and overall condition of the unit. Even if all of the damage can be repaired, it may not be worth it as repairing extensive damage can often end up costing almost as much as replacing the unit. If the unit is already 10 or more years old, you may just want to replace it since it typically will only have a few years of life left anyway. Another factor to consider is that HVAC manufacturer’s warranties typically don’t cover damage caused by flooding so you’ll have to pay for all of the repairs out of pocket even if the unit is fairly new and still under warranty.
How Flooding Can Affect Indoor HVAC Equipment
Furnaces are typically the part of an HVAC system that is most prone to damage from flooding since they often sit directly on the floor in the basement. If there was no more than a few inches deep, you can usually save the furnace by replacing all of the water-damaged components. If the water rose high enough to cover half of the furnace or more, repairing all of the damage will often be much more expensive than it’s worth.
When repairing a flood-damaged furnace, all safety and electrical components that were exposed to water must be replaced. This includes things like the igniter, control board, gas valve, flame rollout switch, flame sensor, limit switches, inducer fan, and pressure switch. Exposure to water will lead to corrosion eventually, which is why all of these components should always be replaced even if they don’t appear damaged.
If the burners were exposed to water, they will also need to be thoroughly cleaned or replaced. All of the electrical connections and wiring will also need to be completely dried and then cleaned, and any damaged wires will need to be replaced. Once everything has been repaired or replaced, the technician will then need to perform a complete safety check to ensure that the furnace is again safe to use.
If any parts of your ductwork are ever exposed to flood waters, you should always have them replaced. Ductwork that has been exposed to flooding is almost impossible to decontaminate so it is always best to just scrap it and have new ducts installed as needed.
How Flooding Can Affect Your Outdoor HVAC Unit
Outdoor HVAC units like air conditioners and heat pumps are designed to withstand rains and snow, but they obviously aren’t meant to be submerged in water. As with a furnace, whether the unit can be restored or not usually depends on how high the water rose inside the unit. Any electrical controls, contactors, motors, refrigerant pressure switches, and capacitors that were submerged will need to be replaced. If the compressor motor was underwater, you should just replace the entire unit as replacing the compressor motor is extremely complicated and will usually cost about the same as a new replacement unit.
If the water only covered the AC unit or heat pump by a few inches, the unit can usually be repaired or restored fairly easily. The one exception is if the flooding caused the unit to shift or move at all. The refrigerant system in a heat pump or AC is a closed loop that is completely sealed off from the environment. However, if the unit ever moves even a small amount, it will usually open up the refrigerant system and expose it to the elements. If the refrigerant system is breached, you will usually need to replace the unit and all of the copper refrigerant lines.
Once the outdoor unit has been completely repaired, the technician will also need to fully clean the condenser coil to ensure the AC or heat pump works properly. A dirty condenser coil can seriously impact the unit’s performance and cause it to work poorly and use lots more energy so it is important that the coil is completely clean before turning the unit back on.
If your HVAC system was damaged by flooding or has any other issues, Cool Power LLC is here to help. We offer 24/7 emergency repair services and our team works on all makes and models of HVAC equipment. We also specialize in heating and cooling installation, replacement and maintenance services for customers in Ronkonkoma and throughout Long Island. Give us a call today if you have any questions or to schedule a service appointment.