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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Flood Recovery: A Guide for Home Heating and Cooling Systems

7/1/2019 (Permalink)

Simply stated, your heating and cooling system was not designed to operate in or under water.

If your property was flooded, it is highly recommended that you have a qualified HVAC technician inspect your home’s heating and cooling system.

Should I start my HVAC system after a flood?

Appearances can be deceiving. Although your HVAC system might look the same as before the flood, there may be serious issues and concerns that are not obvious to the untrained eye.

Since the flood impacts are unknown, it is highly recommended that you do not start your HVAC system before a qualified HVAC technician performs a full inspection.

Should I repair or replace an HVAC system after a flood?

HVAC systems are designed and engineered to operate under certain conditions — underwater is not one of those conditions.

During flood recovery, every home’s circumstance and HVAC system requires a case-by-case professional assessment. A professional HVAC technician can make specific recommendations on your system’s particular circumstances.

Because so many heating and cooling components could be affected by flood water, it may be a better choice to replace your HVAC equipment. However, your local professional HVAC technician may suggest a repair if the flood damage was contained to an easy-to-replace component.

How a flood may impact my outdoor HVAC equipment

Split air conditioning and heat pump systems have a condenser coil and wires and piping between the indoor and outdoor parts of the system.

If the unit was running when flooding occurred, electrical components might be damaged. Fuses, wiring, and circuits may malfunction when contacted with water.

Floodwater is often a mixture of dirt, grime, and debris that may adhere to the condenser coil. If the condenser coil was exposed to flood waters, the equipment’s designed efficiency level might be severely reduced. A dirty, inefficient coil may also lead to premature failure given the extra effort required to heat or cool your home.

If flood water has moved your HVAC equipment, even a small amount, there is the potential for a breached refrigerant system. The heat pump (or air conditioning system) will most likely require major repair or full replacement.

How may a flood impact my indoor HVAC equipment?

If there is any question whether flood water has reached your indoor HVAC equipment, have the system checked by a professional HVAC technician.

Natural gas furnaces have valves and controls that may be vulnerable to water damage from floods.  Damage may not be easy to detect, especially if the outside of the device is clean and dry. Corrosion may begin inside the valves, electrical components, and controls, which is not immediately apparent or visible. At a minimum, this type of damage can result in immediate operational and long-term reliability problems.

What about my ductwork?

If you have a forced-air HVAC system that has experienced flood damage, pay attention to your ductwork. Ductwork that has been in contact with flood water should not be salvaged.  It is extremely difficult to decontaminate ductwork that has been exposed to flood water or other related conditions. It should be replaced. Doing a thorough job will require disassembling the ductwork. These ductwork repairs may also give your contractor the opportunity to seal ductwork joints and improve insulation.

What will a professional HVAC technician do after a flood?

After the flood waters have subsided, contact a local professional HVAC technical for an inspection. All inspection and replacement work on flooded equipment should be performed by a qualified heating and cooling technician, not by the homeowner.

Your HVAC technician may ask:

  • The depth of the water that flooded your property and/or home
  • How long the unit was under water
  • Whether the unit was running when the flooding occurred

Depending on the circumstances, your HVAC technician may:

  • Clean flood-residue from coils
  • Inspect the heating and cooling system electrical components
  • Check all electrical and refrigeration connections for both indoor and outdoor units, including all control circuits
  • Clean, dry, and disinfect the refrigerant system if it remained intact
  • Inspect gas valves and ductwork
  • Identify a component that needs repair
  • Recommend a system replacement

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