Cleaning an HVAC System in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

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Cleaning up after a hurricane, flood or other high water event can be challenging. The cleaning methods necessary for a heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC system can require special knowledge not necessarily held by the homeowner. This is why the services of someone with HVAC training are so vital in an emergency clean-up of flooded property.

Electric System

An HVAC system is always at least partially powered by electricity. While the heating portion of the system may include other energy sources, such as natural gas or oil, electricity powers ventilation fans and air conditioners. Water and electrical components do not mix well. Corrosion can damage connections and render the system inoperable unless cleaned appropriately. Prior to cleaning an HVAC system that has been affected by water, one should verify that the electrical components of the system are still in working shape.

Ducts and Filters

Ducts and filters that have been inundated with water can accumulate mold and mildew. Mold can pose a health hazard to occupants of the home. Cleaning the air ducts commonly requires drying the ducts and washing them out with disinfectants. This can be a difficult process and should only be trusted to someone with proper HVAC certification.

Compressors and Condensers

The compressors and condensers are the working components of the air conditioning unit of an HVAC system. The compressors operate by electric motors, which may require cleaning and maintenance or might need to be replaced before operating the system. The coils and condensers are made of copper tubing which may corrode in some high moisture circumstances. An inspection by an HVAC professional can determine what maintenance is required before the system can be operated.

Burners and Heat Exchangers

The burner and heat exchanger are the working components of the heating or furnace part of the HVAC system. The burner assembly often includes an igniter which lights the burner. All of these components can be damaged by corrosion and need to be cleaned or replaced after a high water event. The heat exchanger prevents exhaust gas from entering the home. The heat exchanger should be replaced if it was damaged during the weather event.

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Checking the System

HVAC systems provide a total climate control system for homes complete with heating and cooling. Proper HVAC maintenance is important at all times to keep the system operating efficiently. Proper maintenance is doubly important after a hurricane like Sandy where the damage to residential and commercial areas is so widespread. The necessary maintenance and repairs may be more difficult than standard repairs, making the services of trained HVAC professionals vital to the process.


Post-Hurricane Sandy Series: Mold Control for HVAC and Facilities

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