Here’s How to Protect Your HVAC System from Snow and Ice

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While the season has been mild so far, snow and ice storms can come out of nowhere. Without the right care, these winter storms can damage your HVAC system. To help you be prepared for the next snow or ice storm, we’ve got tips on HVAC protection that will keep your system and your home safe. 

How Do Snow and Ice Affect Your HVAC System?

Snow can be beautiful and peaceful, but it can also be very damaging and costly. In 2018, winter storms cost approximately $3 billion in insured losses. Your HVAC system is no exception.

From heavy snow buildup to icicle damage to melting and refreezing, there are many ways that heavy snowfall can impair your HVAC system’s ability to function efficiently. 

Without proper HVAC protection, snow and ice can lead to airflow problems, corrosion, damage to fans and fins, reduced efficiency, physical damage, rust build-up, and more. On top of the potential for costly repairs, the effects of snow and ice on your outdoor unit can also lead to a spike in energy bills

If there is too much snow buildup around your exterior vents or furnace exhaust, your system will have to work twice as hard, leading to more energy usage. Snow can also have dangerous impacts on your HVAC unit and home. If your furnace exhaust is blocked by snow buildup, harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide can enter your home.

Tips for Protecting Your HVAC System From Snow and Ice 

Here are five tips to keep your HVAC system and home safe and warm this winter: 

Clear Any Harmful Tree Branches 

If you have tree branches or limbs hanging over or around your outdoor HVAC unit that seemed harmless during the warmer months, you’ll want to reevaluate them during the winter. When it snows, tree branches and limbs can grow heavy with snow or ice, leading them to snap off and damage your HVAC unit. 

To avoid this damage, remove any risky branches or limbs.

Clear Heavy Build-Up on Your HVAC Unit 

In addition to clearing any harmful tree branches or limbs around your outdoor HVAC unit, it’s also essential to clear the unit itself. Heavy snow or ice buildup can lead to problems with airflow, cause condensing unit or heat pump failure, and more that can leave you with a costly repair on your hands. 

Make sure to clear your HVAC unit of any heavy snow or ice buildup carefully. Never use an icepick or sharp object to remove ice or snow, as this could further damage the system. Instead, use a broom for heavy snow or ice melt or warm water to help with hard to remove ice. 

While you’re clearing off your unit, you should also shovel snow away from underneath the unit and around its sides. 

Check Your Exterior Vents 

Snow buildup that blocks your exterior heating vents can be dangerous and damaging to your HVAC system. Whenever there is heavy snowfall, take some time to check your exterior vents and remove any buildup blocking them. 

It’s best practice to make checking your exterior vents a routine part of your snow removal process. Whenever you go out to plow, shovel, or snow-blow your driveway and pathways, pay some attention to your exterior vents too. 

Consider a Protective System 

If you want to save yourself some trouble when it comes to clearing snow, it’s a good idea to use a protective system for your heat pump. Protective systems will catch the snow before it reaches your outdoor unit, providing added protection against ice and snow.

You’ll still have to go out and clear the snow off the top of the protective system, but most systems will provide some cover around the HVAC unit so you won’t have to do as much shoveling under or around it. 

A protective system will also help keep your outdoor heating unit safe from icicles that can form on the gutters or roofing above your unit. If these icicles fall onto your HVAC system, they can cause serious damage. You can buy or build a protective system for your outdoor heating unit. 

Additionally, once you’re sure you won’t be using your AC anymore, it’s a good idea to invest in a cover for it so that it won’t be damaged by snow or ice. 

Schedule Regular Maintenance 

One of the most important components of ensuring that your HVAC system is ready to keep your home warm and safe all winter long is scheduling regular maintenance. During a maintenance inspection, in addition to ensuring that your system is in optimal running condition, an HVAC technician can help you establish best practices for protecting your outdoor unit. 

AirXperts Can Prepare Your HVAC System for Anything 

With expert care and professional advice from our team of licensed technicians, there’s nothing your HVAC system won’t be prepared for. For maintenance, repairs, replacements, and all your other HVAC needs contact AirxPerts today!

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