Meltdown: Your HVAC Ice and Flooding Checklist

Meltdown: Your HVAC Ice and Flooding Checklist

The East Coast has been brutalized by storm after storm this winter; just as cities like Boston or New York dig out from one blizzard, another is on the horizon. And while spring comes eventually, this means the prospect of significant flooding when the sun finally shines and the snow starts to melt.

Here’s a checklist to help make sure critical HVAC systems stay up and running no matter what.

Check 1: Can You Handle Ice?

Before flooding begins, you need to deal with existing ice on rooftops or outside basement access points. As noted by Niagara Frontier Publications, one of the most worrisome tendencies of frozen water is to create “ice dams” that prevent snow melt from effectively funneling into eavestroughs or downspouts. Roof-mounted HVAC units are a popular location for ice dams to appear, since they often progress through specific temperature cycles during the day. The result of this constant variation in hot and cold leads to the formation of ice, which takes up more physical space than snow or water and can block air intake and output for HVAC units.

To deal with this problem, make sure you’re regularly deicing the area around HVAC units; it’s a good idea to employ licensed contractors with roof-clearing experience to handle this task. Ignoring the problem until spring is not recommended, since the weight of an industrial HVAC unit coupled with large amounts of ice can easily exceed the 20 pounds per square foot of pressure defined as “safe” by the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Check 2: How Will You Deal With Water?

What happens when the weather finally breaks? Ice melt and in turn, flooding. When it comes to dealing with basement or office floods that impact HVAC units, companies can take several steps to minimize damage.

As noted by the CDC, it’s important to ensure worker safety during the flood cleanup process. This means finding an HVAC contractor prepared to tackle the problem with hard hats, gloves and watertight boots complete with a full steel toe and insole, along with an eye for electrical safety. In addition, you must be prepared to deal with water removal, meaning it’s a good idea to invest in a vacuum system that includes pump-out capability. Bottom line? The longer water stays in your building and near your HVAC, the higher your risk.

Check 3: Are You Ready for Mold?

According to a flooding checklist from the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, you must also be prepared to deal the problems that water leaves behind. The checklist recommends cleaning and disinfecting everything which became wet and is still salvageable but in some cases this may not be enough; if damaged areas were inaccessible as flood levels fell, the result is often large amounts of black mold. Left untreated, these mold spores are then spread by HVAC systems throughout your building. Combating this issue means being prepared with a mold-treatment product that not only addresses the symptoms of mold but its also able to completely eliminate mold at the source.

Ice dams, floods and mold are coming when the snow melts in spring: Is your business ready?

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