A weighty snowfall on exterior heating and cooling components weighs more than you might think. Just one inch of snow with typical moisture content weighs 1.66 pounds per square foot. During a deep snowfall, weight adds up quickly when it comes to possible damage to outdoor HVAC components. A thick coat of ice from freezing rain, which is considerably heavier than snow, can be equally harmful. A weighty snowfall can also block HVAC intake and exhaust vents and trigger system shutdowns.
Here are some things to consider before a weighty snowfall, as well as after it occurs:
- Clear away bushes, weeds, and other obstructions around the outdoor unit to keep 2 feet of open space on all sides. This helps prevent accumulation of drifting snow immediately next to the unit.
- Cut back any large tree limbs extending directly over the outdoor AC or heat pump. They could snap under a weighty snowfall and/or ice accumulation.
- Large icicles hanging from leaky gutters are very heavy and could damage outdoor HVAC components if they break and impact the unit. Clean gutters before the first snowfall.
- Check the furnace vent pipe where it terminates on the roof. Make sure the pipe is intact and that the vent cap is secure enough to keep snow out of the pipe.
- If the home has a high-efficiency furnace, there will be an air intake as well as an exhaust vent on the side of the house. Both openings should be located where deep snowfall will not obstruct air intake or exhaust.
- If a weighty snowfall occurs, clear accumulated snow and ice from the outdoor unit ASAP. The longer snow remains on the unit, the greater the potential for damage due to weight, as well as moisture seepage as it thaws.
For more advice about preventing HVAC damage from a weighty snowfall this winter, ask the professionals at Jackson & Sons.