If a tropical storm or flood-like conditions are heading towards you, it's necessary to prepare your home in order to prevent damage from occurring. One of the most important parts of storm preparation is making sure that your air conditioning unit is secure, as the outdoor components of central air conditioning systems are fairly fragile. Thankfully, preparing your air conditioner for stormy conditions is a simple process once you know what you're doing.
Cover the Unit
The first thing that you should do is cover the outdoor component of your air conditioner with a tarp or other waterproof covering. This prevents rainwater from collecting within the unit, as well as keep out small pieces of debris which can damage the condenser fins and result in a malfunctioning unit. Make sure that the tarp is weighted down so that it will not be carried away with a strong gust of wind. You may want to use hurricane straps as well, to ensure that the unit will not rock or be moved by the storm.
Unplug the Unit
You should turn the power supply off from your air conditioner, either at the central breaker panel for your home or at the plug for your central air conditioning unit (most likely located inside, where the indoor component of the system is). This prevents power surges from damaging the electrical components within the air conditioner and starting fires, though it is also recommended to install a surge protector on the power line just in case.
Raise the Unit
If there is expected flooding or if the unit is located in a dip in the land, you should raise the unit off of the ground above the expected water level. You most likely will need to contact a contractor to do this for you, because depending on how high you need to raise the unit, the wiring may need to be redone. However, if only a limited amount of water is expected, you can install sandbags or other measures around the air conditioner, which have the dual benefit of blocking water and protecting the unit from physical damage from debris.
After the Storm
After the storm has passed, don't turn on your air conditioning unit right away. Instead, check to make sure that there aren't any visible signs of damage to the unit, and there is no water inside the air conditioner. If you have any doubts, you should contact a professional from a company like JV Systems Air Conditioning And Heating of Tampa Bay Inc to check out your unit before starting it up.