During and after a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or hurricane—any storm that brings with it water and lightning—homeowners need to be cautious about using their heating, air conditioning, and plumbing appliances. If you don’t take proper precautions, you risk hurting yourself or causing permanent damage to your equipment that could end up costing you big.
“It’s important to remember not to immediately restart heating and cooling equipment after a severe storm because it can be dangerous and could cause further damage,” said Larry White, President of Comfort Air. “The equipment may be severely damaged, its wiring may be damaged or it may have debris lodged in it. These are some of the many reasons why it’s best to have a qualified service technician inspect your heating and cooling equipment after a severe storm.”
After a storm, it’s natural to want to get things back up and running as soon as possible. But before you turn your air conditioner or heater back on, take the proper steps to reduce the risk of damaging your expensive equipment by assuring it is dry, clean, and otherwise safe to use:
- If the storm caused flooding, check all equipment thoroughly before you start it. If you aren’t absolutely sure the inner components are dry, don’t turn anything on.
- If there was any flooding, open your equipment and appliances. Let air circulate; this will help with drying.
- It may be a good idea to have an electrician inspect your home’s wiring to make sure everything is dry and safe to use before you plug anything in or turn anything on.
- Additionally, it may be wise to have your heating and cooling equipment inspected by a service company. Just make sure you work with someone reputable, since some businesses will seek out storm area victims just to make a quick buck.
The above rules should also apply to any appliance related to your home’s plumbing. However, the major risk for damaging plumbing equipment (not to mention harming yourself) comes primarily during a storm. Plumbing equipment uses water, which is the ideal conductor for lightning. It is possible to be struck by lightning while inside your home if you’re not careful.
Using the shower, sink, or other plumbing appliances during a storm could cause an electric shock. If lightning strikes your home or anywhere near your home, you could end up getting electrocuted through the metal pipes and the water you’re using.
One way to reduce the risk of unwanted damage caused by lightning is to use PVC pipes in your home. Unlike metal pipes, PVC pipes will not conduct electricity, making it safer to use plumbing during a storm. Still, it’s probably best not to use your plumbing at all until after it passes.
Overall, during storms it’s advised that you use as few electronic devices, plumbing equipment, and appliances as possible until the storm has passed and you’ve dealt with all the after effects. Your safety and the safety of your expensive equipment is worth a few extra minutes of inconvenience.