Dealing with a flood can be a nightmare for any homeowner, and this is equally true if your basement fills up with water or there is a flood outside the home. Most people are fully aware of the damage that flooding can cause to electrical systems and the underlying structure of a building. However, you may not be aware that floods can be equally as damaging to your air conditioner, furnace, and entire HVAC system. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the impact that flooding can have on HVAC systems and what you can do about it.
What to Do If Your HVAC System Is Exposed to Flooding
If your furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, mini-split, or any other type of HVAC equipment is exposed to flooding, the very first thing to do is flip the circuit breaker that controls the system. This shuts off the power and ensures that the system cannot turn on. After shutting off the power, you should then contact a professional HVAC company to have your entire HVAC system inspected before attempting to run it again.
All that water has the potential to cause all sorts of damage to the various HVAC components. Most likely, your equipment will need extensive repairs after a flood, and there is a good chance that at least some components or entire units may need to be replaced. If you attempt to run your heating or air conditioning system before you have it professionally inspected, you are almost guaranteed to cause further damage or potentially ruin your equipment altogether. Running the system before it is inspected can also potentially lead to numerous safety issues.
How Floods Can Damage Indoor HVAC Equipment
Your indoor HVAC equipment primarily consists of the furnace, air handler, and blower fan. If water reaches the blower fan, it will likely cause electrical issues and could short out the fan motor. Gas and electric furnaces are also highly susceptible to corrosion and water damage. This can result in the furnace not heating reliably and also create potential safety hazards.
Running a gas furnace that has been exposed to water can be especially hazardous. Water can easily get inside the unit’s controls and valves and cause them to corrode, and this is something you won’t be able to spot from the outside. At the very minimum, this will harm the unit’s performance. It can also potentially lead to a dangerous gas leak.
If you have propane or gas heating, you will need to have a professional HVAC technician inspect the system and replace any controls or valves that came into contact with water. Propane heating is especially prone to issues caused by flooding. Water can cause debris to get stuck in the small vent hole on the gas pressure regulator, which can cause the system to malfunction or become dangerous to use. For this reason, the pressure regulator will also need to be replaced if it was exposed to water.
Flooding and Your Outdoor AC Unit
Air conditioners and heat pumps can also experience numerous issues due to flooding. If the unit is fully flooded, it will likely ruin the compressor and fan motors. Water can also damage the unit’s wiring and electrical components. This is why you should never attempt to run your air conditioning after a flood until the unit has fully dried out and been professionally inspected, cleaned, and disinfected. Depending on the extent of the damage and how long the floodwater sat, the system may need major repairs or replacement parts. There is also a decent chance that the outdoor unit will need to be fully replaced. Luckily, all of this should be covered if you have flood insurance.
The refrigerant lines that run to and from the outdoor AC unit to the indoor air handler are a closed system, which means the refrigerant shouldn’t be affected by flooding. However, if the flood waters caused your outdoor unit to shift or move even a small amount, your refrigerant lines may have been damaged as a result. If the refrigerant system is breached, it will require extensive repairs or the entire system may need to be fully replaced.
The Effect of Floods on Ductwork
Flooding can also damage your home’s ductwork. If any water comes into contact with any of your ducts, you will likely need to have some or all of the duct system repaired or replaced. The biggest issue with flooding and ductwork is that it can contaminate the ducts and allow mold to begin growing inside them.
The first step to overcoming duct issues caused by flooding is to remove and discard any duct insulation that was exposed to the water. All of the insulation will need to be replaced as it is impossible for it to fully be decontaminated.
Any sections of ductwork that were exposed to the water will need to be taken apart. This allows the technician to fully dry, clean, and disinfect everything to prevent mold and bacteria from growing. If any of the sections have extensive damage, they will also need to be replaced. Finally, the duct system can be put back together and then resealed to ensure that there are no air leaks.
Can Flood Damaged HVAC Equipment Be Repaired?
The biggest question when it comes to flooding and HVAC systems is whether it is better to repair the damage or simply replace the affected equipment altogether. Unfortunately, this is not something you can really determine on your own. The only way to know whether the damage can be effectively repaired is to have everything fully inspected by a certified HVAC technician.
After performing the inspection, the technician will then know the full extent of the damage and whether it can possibly be repaired. They will also be able to give you an estimate of how much the necessary repairs can cost. Even if the damage can be repaired, there are many times when replacing your furnace or AC with a new unit makes more sense from both a financial and comfort standpoint. Basically, if the costs of the repairs come anywhere near the cost of a new unit, you are always better off to opt for replacement. This is because even with extensive repairs, there is still a decent chance that the unit won’t perform as effectively or as efficiently as it did prior to the flood.
Your Local HVAC Repair Experts
The recent massive flooding in Las Vegas shows that flood damage is something that can affect anyone. If any of your HVAC components have been exposed to floodwater, the expert technicians at Sierra Air Conditioning & Heating can inspect your entire system. After determining the extent of the damage, our team can give you an estimate of how much the repairs will cost. We can also help you decide when replacing the unit is a better option than attempting to repair it.
We have been serving residents in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas for more than 35 years, and our team has won numerous awards including the 2020 Best of Las Vegas gold award. In addition to heating and cooling services, we provide plumbing and indoor air quality services. If you suspect flooding has damaged your HVAC system or are interested in scheduling another service, give Sierra Air Conditioning & Heating a call today to get the professional help you need.