Accepting the possibility of earthquakes is just a part of having a home in California, the Northern part included. These are natural events that can cause major damage to houses, and everything in them. The majority of homeowners think about storage, bookshelves, and TV while preparing their home for earthquake. HVAC and other appliances often get overlooked. These are a few important earthquake preparedness tips.
HVAC System Damage Due to Earthquakes
Earthquakes can cause serious damage just like any other thing in your home. An HVAC system can be damaged in two major ways during an earthquake:
- Movement: there is a concrete pad placed under the condenser. However, it is not enough to keep the exterior unit in place. There have been quakes in which the biggest condensers clean get knocked off their pads. This can happen with furnaces too. Inside parts can become damaged or loose when an earthquake rocks the HVAC system. This includes coils, motor, fan, burners, and electric wiring.
- Exterior damage: Falling objects is the second big thing you need to keep an eye out for. Anything potentially heavy can cause serious damage to the refrigerant line, gas line, and electrical wiring. The smallest gas leaks can pose major problems for your family and the neighborhood.
Following an Earthquake in California
You need to head out and check the damage any time there is an earthquake. It doesn’t matter if the earthquake was big or small – it can always cause things to break. You should start with a visual inspection of the condenser and furnace. Look for any obvious dents or scrapes. This can indicate that something fell on the system.
External lines are the next thing you should look out for. This includes gas lines, refrigerant lines, and condensate lines. You should immediately call an HVAC professional if you notice anything broken or cracked. Don’t forget to check visible ductwork. Ducts can become delicate over time. Movement and vibration from the earthquake can make holes in the ductwork.
Potential Gas Leaks
The gas line is the most important thing you would want to inspect following an earthquake. You need to turn off the gas if you see any line damage. Gas leak of any size can fill the house with carbon monoxide regardless of how small the puncture or hole is.
Carbon monoxide can create major health complications for you and your family. It doesn’t have any distinct color or smell. This is one of the reasons why you should always keep the battery in your carbon monoxide detector updated.
Prevention is Always Better than Cure
There are a few preventative measures that can reduce the damage to your HVAC system:
- Vibration isolators: Vibrations can create problems in your HAVC unit. This is why vibration isolators are one of the most recommended earthquake proofing. These are small springs that are installed under the fan and condenser. The springs protect the system from too much shock and vibrations.
- Restraint brackets: The corners of the furnace and condenser are affixed by these little brackets. They absorb shock and shaking caused by the quake with the help of vibration isolators.
- Flex line piping: Lines transporting refrigerant and gas don’t have a tremendous amount of flex in them. This makes them brittle and easy to break.