how to prevent flooded cooling and heating systems in flood zones

How to Prevent Flooded Cooling & Heating Systems in High-Risk Flood Zones

how to prevent flooded cooling and heating systems in flood zones

Electrical appliances damaged by flood water will likely need to be replaced entirely or, at the very least, they will require expensive maintenance and repairs completed by a professional electrician. An HVAC system is one specific appliance that is especially susceptible to damage by flooding. Homeowners, especially those in high-risk flood zones, must take proper action to prevent water damage. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your HVAC system from flood damage, even if you live in a high-risk area. Read below to learn more!

Flood Risks with HVAC Systems 

You do not have to live in a hurricane prone area or close to a body of water such as a lake, river, or ocean to be at risk of a flood. Floods can happen at any time, and the failure to prepare can result in catastrophic financial damages to your home and property while jeopardizing you and your family’s safety. There are countless causes for flooding. Those who live in areas with high risks of hurricanes are particularly at risk of flooding during “hurricane season,” which typically runs from early June to late November. However, a less severe non-hurricane storm with torrential downpours and strong winds can also lead to flooding. 

Rain storms can cause nearby bodies of water to rise, which often leads to flash flooding and can even damage levees or dams designed to protect nearby residents from the water. Those in urban areas are also at risk of drainage basin floods. Plumbing issues such as burst or clogged pipes and melting snow and ice during the winter can also lead to flooding. 

flood water damage hvac system graphic

Flooding leads to costly damage of your HVAC system that requires full system replacement or, in a best-case scenario, costly and time-consuming repairs completed by a professional technician. 

Flood water causes corrosion and rusting to components on both the exterior and interior of your HVAC system. Exterior parts of your system that are outdoors or exposed to indoor flood water such as heat pumps will obviously be damaged, but the water can also seep into your system and damage interior parts such as coils. Flood water can also damage electrical components such as wires, which can lead to short-circuiting and electrocution. This can also lead to a significantly less efficient system.

A flooded HVAC system is a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and microorganisms, which can be spread throughout the indoor area by your air conditioner. This creates an unhealthy and irritating environment, and long-term exposure to these harmful airborne bacteria can lead to disease. It can also contribute to mold and mildew growth and significantly decrease your system’s operation efficiency. 

Preventative Measures

Luckily for homeowners, there are several simple preventative measures to take that can protect not just your HVAC system but your entire home from the dangers of flooding. For example, water level sensors monitor your home’s water usage in real-time and alert you of any abnormalities such as rising levels, which is a major indicator of a flood. 

flooded room with hvac unit

This warning gives you time to take preventative action such as turning off electricity or moving any valuables from an at-risk area, which lessens any financial damage. Their data can also help homeowners save money on their water bills. 

Basement floods lead to an average of $43,000 in damages, and many home HVAC systems often have components in basements. With these water level sensors, your air conditioner system and entire home will be safer. If your water level sensors alert you of a flood, be sure to quickly turn off your HVAC system and other appliances if you can safely do so without exposing yourself to risk of electrocution. An active electrical appliance increases the chance of fires and electrocution while damaging your system even more.

basement floods quote

Installing Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, is another way to keep your home and HVAC system safe. These circuit breakers quickly shut off electric power if a ground fault occurs. Ground faults occur when electricity escapes its usual path and flows through a different conductor to the ground. This usually happens during house floods, as water is an excellent conductor. 

GFCIs are necessary in areas where electricity is used near water, such as kitchens and bathrooms, but are also excellent safety measures in basements. Installing one near your HVAC system can help prevent flooding and any resulting damage such as house fires and electrocutions. 

Whole home surge protectors are another preventive measure to prevent floods, as they are installed near a home’s electrical service box and protect appliances such as HVAC systems by blocking excess electrical current flow. This comprehensive coverage is highly recommended for those in high-risk flood zones, as it keeps major household appliances safe from power surges, which are especially common during hurricanes and powerful storms.

man controlling ac unit with remote

Install a Ductless Mini Split System

Central ducted HVAC systems are prone to flooding, as water can damage any outdoors components. Water can also enter the ducts, which can circulate harmful air throughout the home. Ductwork that has been exposed to water will need replaced entirely afterward, and replacing an entire ducted system is very expensive, time-consuming, and intrusive. 

One way to minimize your HVAC system’s risk of flooding is by switching to a ductless mini split system. ComfortUp proudly sells mini split systems from the best HVAC brands such as GREE, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, LG, Boreal, and more. Ductless mini splits are available in single and multi-zone systems with varying heating and cooling capacities for areas of all sizes, making them the perfect option for homes and businesses of all sizes. They create the perfect indoor environment by providing users with advanced control over temperature, humidity, airflow, and more through smart technologies. Mini splits are also highly efficient, which leads to significantly lower energy bills, which offsets a potential higher upfront unit cost.

Shop Single & Multi Zone Mini Splits

Ductless mini splits can also improve indoor air quality, which is especially advantageous for those in high-risk flood zones. Not only does flood water bring in harmful bacteria and microorganisms that can create an uncomfortable and unhealthy indoor environment, but the excess moisture increases the potential for mold and mildew growth. Areas that are prone to flooding, such as basements and garages, may be already dark and damp to begin with, and adding flood water creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew. 

Fortunately, mini splits can remove excess moisture to deter mold and mildew growth! You can also install ultraviolet lights on your system to eliminate even more moisture and bacteria.  

Purchase a Specialized Indoor Unit

Ductless mini split indoor air conditioners are available in a variety of different styles to meet the space and design needs of different home and business owners, and certain styles are better than others for those in high-risk flood zones. Some types of air conditioners can be installed high up on the wall or in the ceiling, which significantly decreases the chance of flooding and water exposure. 

wall mounted units graphic

Mini split air conditioners are traditionally wall mounted units, and these are perfect for those in high-risk flood zones because they can be mounted high on a wall safely away from even the highest flood waters. Ceiling cassettes are another excellent option, as these inconspicuous air conditioners sit virtually flat against the ceiling. 

Slim duct mini splits and concealed mount mini splits can be installed in the ceilings of rooms or closets, so they are also less likely to flood than other models. These styles are similar to the traditional wall mount but, due to their size, they are ideal in tight spaces where a traditional unit may not fit. 

There are also universal floor and ceiling mount options that can either be suspended from the ceiling or rest on the floor. You could purchase one of these versatile units and hang it from the ceiling to keep it safe from flood waters. 

ComfortUp sells many different types of mini split systems, so there is certainly something to meet the spatial needs of your home or business. While these units can be purchased individually, we also allow our customers to mix and match indoor units when assembling a multi-zone system. Since every room in your home or business may not have the same chance of flooding or have sufficient wall space, you can choose the best models for your specific situations!

Relocate Your HVAC System

When installing your HVAC system, utilize elevated space when possible. While some mini split units can be installed on the wall or ceiling, this may not be possible in your home or business due to lack of available space or design constraints. If your situation requires a floor mounted unit, relocate it in the room and elevate it on cinder blocks and wooden slats. You can also build a flood wall around your air conditioner, as this will keep it safe from rising waters to a certain level. These are excellent yet effective ways to decrease your system’s chance of flooding. 

Outdoor HVAC systems such as condensers are designed specifically to withstand the elements. For example, certain heat pumps use a corrosion-proof coating to prevent rust. However, even they are susceptible to the damages of flood water. The parts themselves are at risk during floods, and the water can enter the machine and bring with it dirt and other debris normally kept out. 

If possible, position your outdoor unit on an elevated surface or relocate it to higher ground, such as the top of a hill or another slanted area so that water flows away. You could also position it on a concrete base, as this will also keep your system level in the event of a flood. 

Flood walls are another excellent way to prevent flooding for outdoor components, just as they are for indoor air conditioners. You can build a flood wall yourself, if you are inclined, but you can also hire a professional contractor if you do not feel comfortable with it, as this will ensure the wall is properly built.

technician repairing home air duct

Extended Product Warranties 

Unfortunately, flood damage to your HVAC system is not entirely preventable, even with these thorough precautions. In the event that your system is damaged by flood waters, you need to be prepared for any repair or replacement costs. 

All of our mini splits come with a manufacturer's warranty that only covers the costs of replacement parts, meaning they do not cover labor costs for professional repairs. Our extended product warranties cover labor AND replacement part costs! Professional repairs and maintenance are always recommended after your HVAC system has been exposed to flood water. An extended product warranty can help lessen any financial burden in the event of an accident.  

For any other questions about water level sensors or ductless mini splits, contact ComfortUp today. We have a team of trained product specialists standing by to help and address any questions, comments, or concerns related to your specific situation. We can’t wait to help you find the best ductless mini-split for your home, so give us a call at 1-855-337-0001 or contact us online!

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