Winter Elements Can Wreak Havoc On Your HVAC System

You know that winter routine. Snow falls, it piles up everywhere, and ice covers everything. You bundle up, head outside, and start the big clean up job. While you’re out there, don’t overlook your HVAC equipment. The build-up of snow and ice on your outdoor components can cause real problems for you indoors. Here is a description of some of the common ways that the winter elements can do serious damage to your heating system, and simple steps you can take to prevent it.


Snow and ice accumulation on your exterior equipment can require that the heating system work much harder due to limited air flow. This condition will cause your unit to short circuit and burn out earlier than it should.

When snow and ice accumulation is so heavy that it covers the outdoor equipment, it can cause the system to freeze up and trigger an emergency shut-off. This means you will have no heat in your home. Ice and snow can build up on the aluminum fan and coil fins and bend them. Bent structures can cause your HVAC unit to make strange noises while operating and can break the fins.


If you have a heavy snowfall, when it begins to melt, snow and ice can puddle around the exterior components. When the temperature drops and causes refreezing and expansion, this can cause damage. If you have a gas furnace or boiler, water from melting snow can seep into the internal valves and other components causing corrosion, malfunctioning, and even fires. When it re-freezes, your pipes may become encased in ice, which can cause your furnace to shut down.


The exterior components may be situated under a rain gutter. As icicles form on the gutter and then grow larger and larger, they become a lot heavier than you might realize. They become so heavy sometimes that they break off due to the weight. They can crash down right into your HVAC component and damage the cabinet along with the electronics and sensitive equipment inside. To prevent this damage, you should clear away the icicles hanging above your exterior equipment before they become large.


The exhaust pipes in your roof vent the carbon monoxide that your furnace produces when it creates heat. If snow and ice block the exhaust piping, deadly carbon monoxide can build up in your home. You should make sure your home is equipped with a working carbon monoxide detector on every floor. If you can safely access the exhaust piping in your roof, make sure it is clear of ice and snow.

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