Can Your HVAC System Survive Spring Hailstorms?

You've survived the winter woes, and it is time to prepare for springtime weather's ups and downs. While rainy days and thunderstorms are common, we don't often talk about or prepare for one of the most damaging weather elements that occur during the spring: hailstorms.

Major hailstones are not incredibly common on the east coast. Still, they happen often enough to make preparing your home and HVAC system for damage worthwhile. Although they can happen any month of the year, hailstorms often peak during May and June, then gradually taper off during the summer. In Virginia alone, we average about 100 reports of severe hail a year.

Evaluating Your Home After Hail

Hail is a form of precipitation that occurs when thunderstorm updrafts carry moisture into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere. The moisture freezes into ice, sometimes the size of golf balls or larger, and rains down in destructive chunks. It has been reported that 84% of large loss claims involving HVAC damage were submitted for damage caused by hail.

After a hailstorm, it's important that homeowners check multiple areas of their homes that could have been impacted, including the:

  • Roof and attic. Look for dents and broken or missing roofing tiles. Inside, make sure to check that the attic hasn't been impacted and there are no obvious leaks.
  • Gutters. Just like cleaning your gutters after a leafy fall, you will want to check your gutters after a hailstorm in the spring. Look for any damage that could impact the flow of water.
  • Cars parked outside. We hope you were able to get your cars into a sheltered area ahead of a hailstorm, but if not, look for dents and broken windows that require repair.
  • Windows and doors. Even small cracks in windows or door frames can lead to bigger problems down the road, so be sure to do a thorough inspection.
  • HVAC system. Make sure to evaluate your HVAC system for any obvious damage. If it looks fine, be sure to keep an eye on its efficiency over the next several days.

While reviewing the status of your home after a hailstorm, it's common to miss that last checkpoint. If there's damage, it will show up in your HVAC system's efficiency and your overall comfort.

Hail + HVAC = Damage

How exactly does hail damage impact your HVAC system? Your air conditioning system is built to weather the elements, but big enough hail can wreak havoc on your condenser unit. The condenser unit plays a critical role in your HVAC system. It removes the heat from the system by using a fan to pull air across a coil that refrigerant runs through.

Most parts of an HVAC system, whether commercial or residential, are well protected within a home or building. Yet important components can still be damaged more easily than others, including the condenser unit that remains outside or on rooftops exposed to the elements.

The condenser unit holds key components for transferring heat, including a condenser coil, compressor, fan unit and metal fins. While it may be covered by metal walls and screens, the condenser unit is not completely impenetrable. Hail can still damage the condenser coil's fins. The fins are often made of thin aluminum, allowing them to be bent and dented easily if struck by hail. If the fins are flattened, airflow can be reduced, affecting the condenser coil's ability to transfer heat.

If hail is small enough, it can also cause additional internal damage to the condenser unit. Hail can also dent the internal fans. Although they might still run, a damaged fan may wobble, causing long-term damage.

HVAC Repairs

Hail damage that has caused blocked airflow can quickly turn into other problems if left unchecked. Your air conditioner could begin running non-stop, resulting in higher energy bills. Other parts will have to work harder, leading to more wear and tear and causing premature failure. This can shorten the lifespan of your system, meaning an earlier replacement.

If your HVAC system shows any of the following signs after a hailstorm, it's important to call the trusted HVAC experts at Bradley Mechanical and schedule HVAC repairs. Look out for:

  • Obvious damage to outer elements (dents, broken pieces, etc.)
  • Insufficient airflow
  • Water leaks
  • Unusual noises
  • Frequent cycles
  • High humidity

If your HVAC system has suffered damage from a hailstorm, don't fret. By giving the HVAC team at Bradley Mechanical a call, our certified technicians will inspect its components, repair any damage and provide preventative tips to help you avoid future problems. Preventing damage from future hailstorms can certainly come in handy and is one of the many tips we can provide.

Don't let bad spring weather impact your comfort. Our family of HVAC experts has been serving our community for over 50 years and would be honored to do the same for you.

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