Summer monsoons tend to pound the Las Vegas area with severe thunderstorms, strong winds, and flash floods. While the assessment and timely fixes of any storm damage to the structure of your home are imperative, it is also important to do the same for your air conditioning system.
The outdoor unit of your air conditioning system is exposed to the elements. It requires periodic maintenance and repairs during normal months and more so after a storm. Although its outer casing makes it water-resistant and the grille can protect it from the majority of debris and wind damage, it is still susceptible to a variety of storm damage. The outdoor unit contains the compressor, the condenser unit, condenser coils, motor, fan, and wires, all of which are vulnerable to storm damage.
A few telltale signs can alert you to the fact that your air conditioner has suffered storm damage. These issues should be evaluated and fixed by a professional.
The Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On
The first and most definitive sign of damage is that your air conditioner does not power back on after power has been restored following a blackout. A circuit breaker may have tripped and just needs to be reset, but if your air conditioner does not start even after this, it has sustained damage. The cause for such serious damage is usually a power surge during the storm, and using a surge protector can prevent this from happening.
Low Output From Air Conditioner
If you notice that after the storm has passed and the power is back on, your air conditioner is not cooling as it used to at the same thermostat setting, it could have sustained storm damage. The most likely cause is that the refrigerant lines have sprung a leak. The condenser coils in the outdoor unit are exposed to the weather and may have been damaged by strong winds and debris, causing the unit to leak refrigerant. Another probable cause is damage to the motor due to a burnt capacitor from a power surge.
Unusual Noises or Smells
The outdoor unit is protected by a sturdy casing that is partly a grille. The fan and the condenser coils within need to be exposed so that warm air and humidity can be blown out of the system. This makes the parts in the outdoor unit vulnerable to damage from high winds, which can blow debris into the casing. The debris can be stones, vegetation, or trash. Stuck debris can cause damage, add strain on moving parts like the fan, and cause screeching or rattling noises when the air conditioner is on.
Clearing the area around the outdoor unit of vegetation and cleaning out the gutters above it can minimize the risk of debris damage. If the outdoor unit is designed for user maintenance, you can unscrew the casing and clear it out after shutting off the system; otherwise, you will need to call a professional. Burnt wiring or a burnt capacitor and motor parts due to a power surge can lead to a distinctive burnt smell, and you will need to turn off the system and call a professional to safely assess the damage.
Water Pooling Around Outdoor Unit
Pooling water around the outdoor unit is not a sign that something is wrong as much as it is a potential problem waiting to happen. The casing does protect the inner components from water damage, but being submerged in a foot of water can cause serious problems.
It can cause a short circuit, which is a fire hazard. If flooding occurs from the storm, you should turn off your air conditioner to prevent a short circuit. Covering the outdoor unit with a weather-proof tarp when the air conditioner is not in use and a storm is approaching can keep away floodwaters and also flying debris that can get lodged within.
Signs of Physical Damage
Obvious signs that the outdoor unit has suffered physical damage from heavy debris or flood water will require a professional inspection to assess and conduct repairs if needed. If the unit has been displaced or has toppled over, the internal components may be damaged. If the unit was submerged in standing water for an extended period, mud and water may have entered it and caused clogs and may lead to eventual corrosion. You may even be able to see disconnected or broken wires, pipes, fans, or motors, all of which will need immediate attention.
At Fast Response Services, we have been providing professional HVAC services in the Las Vegas area for 20 years. Our experienced team of professionals can assess any storm damage that your unit may have suffered and perform prompt repairs. In addition to air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance, we also provide water heater repair and installation, heat pump services, air purification, and ductwork services. Call us at Fast Response Services to schedule your air conditioning inspection or emergency repair.