HVAC Systems and Flood Water

The Carolinas saw unprecedented flooding in the wake of Hurricane Florence. In many cases, areas that have never seen flood waters found themselves surround by river water. For homeowners and businesses in Brunswick, Horry, and Georgetown counties, HVAC systems may have been submerged in flood water, and it’s important to have a thorough cleaning, remediation, and if needed, repair of the system before resuming normal operations.  In this blog post we will review the necessary steps to take with your HVAC after a flood. These best practices come from the CDC’s “Recommendations for the Cleaning and Remediation of Flood-Contaminated HVAC Systems: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers.”

Safety Precautions Before Assessing HVAC Damage or Cleaning

The first step before entering a flooded building is to get clearance that electrical is cut off at the main power box. Once waters have receded, an electrical inspection is a wise starting point.  More than the debris that may be clogging your HVAC system, the flood water in your HVAC unit and your building’s filters and ductwork pose the most serious danger to your health. The water and excessive moisture after waters have receding create prime conditions for the growth of bacteria and microorganisms. These bacteria and fungi may show up as “black mold” and may pose serious health risks.  As a result, it’s important to wear recommended respiratory protection before beginning work. If the building will be partially occupied during remediation, the CDC recommends using plastic sheeting or temporary walls to reduce the risk of exposure. 

HVAC Cleaning and Remediation Steps

The following steps are adapted from recommendations from the CDC:

  • Remove all flood-contaminated insulation within HVAC system components, including all filters and porous insulating material.
  • After removing any insulation and filters, clean all flood-contaminated HVAC system component surfaces with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and microorganisms. Pay special attention to filter racks, drain pans, bends and horizontal sections of air ducts where debris can collect.
  • Chemically clean all HVAC system surfaces with either a bleach/water mix, or an approved chemical cleaner.
  • Follow the disinfection procedure with a clean water rinse. Depending on the amount of debris present, it may be necessary to mechanically clean the HVAC system component surfaces with a steam or a high-pressure washer before using the disinfectant. 

It’s important to note while many commercial HVAC systems use metal ductwork that can be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, most residential HVAC systems use ductboard. In many cases, if ductboard is affected by floodwaters, the porous material easily absorbs water and becomes a hotbed of mold growth. In these instances, the only option is to remove all the ductboard and replace it.

Working with Local, Trusted Professionals

Cooper Mechanical Services have been providing dependable electrical and HVAC service to Horry County South Carolina since 1989. We’ve helped businesses and homeowners recover from every major natural disaster since Hurricane Hugo. The Cooper HVAC and electrical teams work in tandem with water damage restoration professionals to bring your home or business back to its pre-flood state.

Whether you need commercial HVAC repair after a flood, or a licensed electrical inspection, the Cooper team is always ready to help. Just Call Cooper.