As any long-time Florida resident is aware, hurricanes are a source of concern around this time of year. With the warming weather and warming seas, this concern is not likely to abate anytime soon. There are plenty of guides out there on the internet already to provide guidance about how to protect your home from a hurricane, but not so many to discuss a more specific feature – your air conditioner. Many of you likely have an outdoor AC unit, and probably wonder what steps to take in order to keep it from harm. We will provide you some tips to make sure that your air conditioner survives the storm in one piece!

Secure Your AC Unit

Assuming you have an outdoor unit, make sure it is properly secured to the ground. You’ll want the unit to sit on a concrete pad that won’t go flying away. The unit itself should be bolted to the pad with hurricane straps. This will keep your air conditioner secured to the ground in some of the worst storms, preventing it from going flying and causing massive damage elsewhere (or perhaps even to your own property).

Surge Protection

If you do not have one already, install a surge protector to help safeguard the electrical components in a storm. During hurricanes, lightning strikes are common events, so having surge protection will help prevent your components from being fried. However, the best defense against an electrical surge is for the unit to be turned off entirely. If a hurricane is expected to make landfall that evening or within the next hour or so, remember to shut the AC down entirely.

Physical Protection

Just before the storm, after you have shut down the AC, make sure to cover it in some way. The primary way your unit can become damaged in a hurricane is through impact from other objects, thus a protective sheet may help keep out smaller debris. Even plywood coverings can be sufficient to prevent most forms of damage.

If you can afford it, there are cages available that can protect your AC unit from suffering damage. These cages are primarily intended to protect against vandalism and theft, but a cage with a fine screen can also help to block some larger debris from getting through.

Post-Hurricane Inspection

No matter how well protected you believe your AC to be, after the storm conduct a post-hurricane inspection before turning it back on. You want to inspect the unit for any damage both inside and out. Furthermore, if the unit was submerged or lines were cut, turning it on right away may just cause more damage.

After you have checked the unit back and forth and have confirmed there is no damage, remove the protective covering you used (cages do not have to be removed) and turn it back on. If there are any odd noises or sounds that were not present before the storm, then switch the unit back off.

Hurricanes can be costly in terms of how much damage they can cause. However, by taking the proper precautions you can protect your unit from damage and save yourself from costly repairs. This will allow life to, hopefully, get back to normal not long after the storm passes.