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Hurricane 101: HVAC Tie-Downs Keep Your Unit Anchored

Posted by: Cooper MechanicalWednesday, September 14, 2016

Hurricane Season 2016 has already brought plenty of rainfall to the South Carolina low country. Earlier this month the Grand Strand experienced some flash flooding and road damage with Tropical Storm Hermine, and reports are already indicating another growing tropical storm system headed our way. In past blog posts we’ve covered some basic electrical safety tips for flooded homes, how to prepare your HVAC system for a hurricane, and how to assess and address a water-damaged HVAC system. This week’s post continues Cooper Mechanical Services’ series on hurricane preparedness by looking more closely at HVAC tie-downs and why they are important in our area.

What Are Tie-Downs?

Hurricane tie-downs or HVAC tie-down straps are exactly what they sound like: an attachment that anchors your outdoor condensing unit to the platform or base that it sits on. In many cases, tie-downs are installed with the system, particularly in areas where hurricanes are common. HVAC hurricane tie-downs come in a variety of styles. There are metal brackets that anchor the bottom corners of the unit to the base, as well as nylon strap and metal cable styles.

Why Are Tie-Downs Important?

To be considered a hurricane, the storm system must have sustained winds of 74 mph, and that is just for a Category 1 hurricane. Winds at this speed can easily blow your outdoor condensing unit off its base, causing damage to the unit and your property. A HVAC-specific tie-down system helps keep your expensive unit from being knocked around and damaged, or worse, flying into something else and creating more devastation.

What Should I Look For?

There are many aftermarket tie-down options available to consumers. When comparing products look for the following characteristics:

  • Wind-Resistant Rating: A category 5 hurricane will reach winds around 160 mph. Look for a tie-down system that can tolerate comparable wind speeds.

  • Corrosion-Proof: If looking at metal brackets or cables, ensure that the metal will not quickly corrode or deteriorate. The saltwater and humid air of our region can quickly eat away at cheap metals.

A Note About Bases 

It should be noted that an anchor system is only effective when complemented by a solid foundation on which the unit sits. Many homeowners in the Myrtle Beach area may be surprised to learn that their condensing unit sits atop not a heavy, solid slab of concrete, but a lightweight foam square coated with a fiber cement. These “ultralight” pads support the weight of the HVAC unit well, but do little to keep it stationary when facing 100 mph winds. You’ll also find it near impossible to bolt an anchor to polystyrene. 

Need An Anchor? Call Cooper!

Cooper Mechanical Services is proud to have served the South Carolina Grand Strand for nearly 30 years. Our HVAC professionals have experience with hurricane-damaged systems and can help you take the steps to prepare for the next “big one.”