Protecting Your HVAC from Snow & Ice

Winter weather can easily catch you off-guard, especially living in the south. With the threat of snow looming in the forecast (and winter having barely started), it’s important to know how to protect your HVAC and furnace from snow and ice. And while HVACs are built to withstand inclement weather, there are still basic steps you should take to make sure your system is working efficiently and effectively and to extend the life of your unit.

Problem #1: Ventilation: It’s important to make sure that the area around your HVAC is kept clear. Shovel away any snow accumulation, check that your gutters aren’t dripping on the unit, and carefully remove any ice build-up. Otherwise, snow and ice could block the system, potentially causing dangerous situations, such as carbon monoxide poisoning. But be sure you don’t chisel or scrape ice from your outdoor unit, as this could cause significant damage. 

Problem #2: Water Damage: After snowfall comes the inevitable: water. First, make sure that you have properly planned for drainage/ runoff, especially if your unit is not raised off the ground. If you think that there may already be water damage, be sure to contact a professional as quickly as possible.

Problem #3: Speed Heating: Turning your thermostat all the way up is unlikely to heat your home that much faster, but it is certain to place more wear and tear on your furnace. If you are in for a long winter, don’t be afraid to set the thermostat below balmy and pile on the blankets! This will extend the life of your system, as well as lower your utility bill.

Prevent damage from winter weather and reduce excessive wear and tear on your HVAC unit by following these tips:

  • Keep it clear: Make sure to keep 18” – 36” around your unit free of debris, snow, and ice. Check periodically during any snowfall, as well as afterwards.
  • Plan for runoff: Ensure that all melted snow and ice, as well as your normal rainfall, drains away from the unit and your house.
  • Raise it up: If possible, install your HVAC system on a raised platform rather than directly on the ground. 6” – 10” would account for average worst-case snowfall and will also help to reduce potential damage from run-off.
  • Be efficient: Adjust your thermostat down during the night and when you will be out of the house. During the other times when you are home, don’t try to heat your home as quickly as possible. Be patient and grab a few extra layers!
  • Call a professional: It’s a good idea to bring in an HVAC professional to inspect your system before the winter season starts. And if you have a problem you can’t troubleshoot, don’t hesitate to give us a shout!