Snow Blows: The HVAC Impact

Snow Blows: The HVAC Impact

The Eastern seaboard has been hit by a series of massive snowstorms over the last few months, resulting in everything from power outages to flooding and the rise of “snow diving”—ordinarily sane adults jumping off balconies and out of windows into massive snow drifts.

But there’s also an impact for heating and ventilation equipment and companies that serve both residential and commercial installation: Here’s why snow blows for HVAC.

Raising the Roof

According to a recent Sun Journal article, snow drifts on rooftops are causing real problems for HVAC installations. Part of the issue stems from the snow itself—the Boston area, for example, has seen more than 8 feet of snow this winter. But another contributing factor is wind. High wind speeds have caused massive snow build-ups on top of and even inside HVAC vents, and when that happens interior air quality suffers. As a result, it’s critical for these drifts to be removed before they cause serious damage.

It’s also important to avoid causing more problems than you solve; according to Art Burhoe of Industrial Roofing, the problem of rooftop snow is “absolutely serious,” but he warns that improper removal can result in damage to skylights, shingles or even HVAC installations. Worst case scenario? The system stops working altogether.

Civic Disobedience

Something approaching the worst case for snow damage recently happened at the Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York. On February 2nd, the power went out in the Civic Center. By 11 pm, some power had been restored but the HVAC and ice systems were still offline. At 5 am the next day, power was restored but a combination of snowy conditions and temperatures around zero degrees led ice to melt and then re-freeze, causing a critical pipe to burst.

HVAC experts had to be called out to solve the problem and no games were missed, but these kind of troubles are just the start: As more snow accumulates and temperatures start to rise, businesses and homeowners alike will face problems like ice dams, water damage, and burst pipes.

So what does this mean for HVAC contractors? More work and more danger. Since so many installations are roof-attached, there’s a risk of falling or slipping, especially if owners haven’t properly cleaned off the surface. What’s more, if proper HVAC maintenance is lacking, what might start as a simple job could end up being a total replacement; a difficult task in driving snow.

Bottom line? Snow blows for HVAC, and means problems for owners and workers alike. Avoiding the worst of these continual snow storms means paying a professional to clear rooflines and making sure HVAC systems aren’t overtaxed: There’s no business in snow business.

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