Whether it's a major thunderstorm, hail, high winds, or a hurricane, your exterior AC unit can be at risk of major damage. Knowing how to protect it from the storm can prevent damage and future break downs.
1. Use a Temporary Cover
It's not a good idea to keep an AC under cover when it's not in use, as this can lead to mold and rust. Further, an AC should never be covered if it is in operation. For a severe storm, particularly one that may bring large hail, a temporary cover can prevent major damage. Turn off the AC, then place a piece of plywood over the top of it to protect it from hail damage. If you want to protect it from wind or heavy rain and you aren't running the AC, you can cover it with a tarp temporarily.
2. Protect Against Power Surges
Lightening strikes or power outages during a storm can destroy the electric system that powers your AC. If the unit is running at the time, the motor or control board can also be overloaded and damaged. Make sure your AC is installed on a dedicated circuit and have a surge protector installed on the circuit. If possible, provide further protection by powering down the AC when you are expecting a major storm.
3. Secure Yard Hazards
Tornadoes, hurricanes, and high winds can turn items in your yard into projectiles, which can damage your exterior AC unit if they blow into it. Put away lawn furniture, ornaments, and other outdoor items ahead of the storm's arrival. Keep landscaping maintained, especially trees, so there are no large branches that can fall on or be blown into the AC unit. Not only will securing yard hazards protect your AC, it will also minimize damages to your home.
4. Put In Protective Fencing
If you are still concerned about items blowing into your AC unit, a fence can provide some additional protection. The fence needs to be placed far enough away so that air can circulate around it. Open picket or mesh fencing is also a good idea, since these styles allow air to pass through while still stopping debris.
5. Install Hurricane Strapping
In areas where extremely high winds and hurricanes are a risk, or if you have a rooftop AC unit, the installation of hurricane strapping is a good idea. This strapping better secures the AC unit so it is not moved during a storm, or worse, ripped off of your roof.
Contact an air conditioning maintenance service for more help in preparing your AC for storm season.