Thunderstorms and flooding cause major damage to your vehicles, home, and property. Storms also cause power surges and blackouts. As climate change continues to affect weather patterns across the country, homeowners in El Cajon and surrounding areas should be more aware of the types of damage that bad weather can cause to heating and cooling systems. Here are 10 signs that your AC system has been damaged by storms.

1. Dents

The most obvious sign of damage from a storm is dents to the cover of the outside unit. This may be caused by hail or debris flying around in high winds. While the issue may seem to be only cosmetic, any changes to the protective covering require further investigation. AC covers have vents that allow for proper airflow. Dents can close up these vents, and leave your AC struggling to pull in the volume of air that it needs to run properly. Damage to the cover also allows space for rodents, dust, and small debris to get inside, and this can lead to a range of issues, such as damaged wires, corrosion, and overheating.

2. Not Cooling Your Home

If your AC worked well before a storm, but then you notice that it doesn’t seem to be cooling properly, it may be a sign that there is some level of storm damage. Even a small amount of flooding on your property is enough to submerge part of the exterior unit underwater, leading to electrical shorts, a build-up of dirt, and other problems. The unit may have also been affected by a cloud-to-ground lightning strike or power surge that happened during the storm.

3. Buzzing, Rattling, and Screeching

Buzzing, rattling, screeching, and other noises that happen after a storm are signs that some of the smaller components have been damaged. Belts and bolts often come loose during storms, and dirt easily collects on the coils. The drain for the compressor can also get clogged with dirt and mud. Another possible source for unusual noises from your AC is damage to the ducts. Connections can come loose, leaving gaps where outside air flows in, as well as debris and dirt

4. Higher Utility Bills

Have you noticed that your utility bill has been slowly increasing since a bog storm came through the El Cajon area? This can be a sign that you have storm damage to your AC. Even if the unit is running properly and there are no visible signs of damage, a rising utility bill lets you know that the system is having a hard time. The filter may be clogged due to excess dirt coming through the ducts, or the exterior unit may have some type of damage.

5. Tripped Circuit Breakers

The circuit breakers in your home trip when an outlet is overloaded. This safety feature lets you know that something is amiss with your electrical system. Circuit breakers often trip during storms when there are power surges or lightning strikes nearby. If you reset the breaker for your HVAC system, and it continues to trip in the days after a storm, you likely have damage to your electrical system or the AC unit.

6. Poor Indoor Air Quality

Under normal circumstances, the filters of your air conditioning system trap dust, pet dander, bacteria, pollen, viruses, and other airborne particles. During a storm, the air that is pulled in by your AC unit as part of the cooling process may contain higher levels of small particulates. With the rise in wildfires in California and parts of the southwest, we are also seeing an increase in the amount of ash that is captured by residential HVAC filters. When your filters are filled with small particles, they don’t work as effectively, if at all. Dirty air is able to find a way around the filter and straight into your living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms. If you are seeing more dust on your furniture, or if your allergies seem worse, this is a good sign that damage from a storm is affecting your AC system.

7. Unusual Odors

It is normal to smell a slightly unusual odor from your AC unit when you first turn it on in the spring and after summertime storms. The odor should only last for a minute or two, though. If an unusual odor is coming through the vents of your El Cajon home or the outside unit, and it lasts for a few minutes or longer, you may have storm damage to your HVAC system.

8. Higher Humidity Levels

Does the inside of your home feel muggy? Storm damage to AC equipment often causes higher humidity levels in El Cajon homes. This is caused by the components, and even the filters, getting wet from thunderstorms and flooding. The air that is pulled in by your AC unit may have a lower moisture content, but humidity is added as it passes through the wet parts of the system.

9. No Power

Power outages from storms can happen during the weather event and for days afterward as the grid tries to stabilize supply and demand. If the AC is the only electrical component in your home that is not working after a power surge or outage, chances are good that your unit has suffered some type of damage from the storm, outage, or power surge. Electrical issues such as this can be challenging to troubleshoot for the average El Cajon homeowner, so we recommend that you call SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a repair appointment with one of our expert technicians.

10. Frequent Repairs

The damage to your cooling system may not be obvious right after a storm passes through the area. Often, the unit can continue to operate effectively and keep your family comfortable. If a few weeks after the storm, you start needing frequent repairs to the unit, this is a good sign that the storm did some type of damage. Our technicians look beyond the immediate problem to find any type of damage from the storm. This helps you to reduce the likelihood of future repairs.

Repairing Storm Damage to Your AC

In most cases, we can repair storm damage to AC units with one appointment. Rarely do we see such extensive damage to HVAC equipment that the entire unit needs to be replaced. Should you need a new AC unit, we can help. Our technician lets you know what needs to be done and what parts of your HVAC system need to be replaced after a storm.

Learn More About the Effects of Storm Damage

If you want to learn more about storm damage to your AC system and other signs to look for, call SDAC Heating & Air Conditioning today to speak with a member of our team. We can help you troubleshoot, and let you know when it’s time to schedule an appointment with a technician. We can handle all of your heating and cooling needs, including installations, repairs, maintenance, and indoor air quality.

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