Restoring HVAC Systems After a Flood
Since installing a new HVAC system can be expensive, many homeowners and business owners who experienced a flood may wish to do what they can to save their existing system. Luckily, HVAC systems can be washed and repaired after a flood has occurred.
Before the cleaning process begins, there are some steps that should be taken in order to keep everyone involved in the process safe. First, those who are doing the cleaning should be equipped with respirators that have HEPA filters installed. Additionally, if the cleaning space is not properly ventilated, it may be recommended for the cleaners to use chemical cartridges that protect against disinfectants.
Second, the space should be closed off using plastic sheeting or other forms of temporary walls to protect those who are not working on the HVAC systems. If the contamination is severe, contractors may use blowers with HEPA filters installed to keep the work area under negative pressure.
Cleaning HVAC Systems
The first step is to remove the insulation from around the components of the HVAC system and the filter. The cleanup crew may use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter attached to remove contaminants, dirt and debris from the components. The cleanup crew will need to pay special attention to the horizontal sections of the duct system and vents. A power washer may be used if the vacuum did not remove all of the debris.
Once the loose debris has been removed, a disinfectant solution, such as chlorine bleach mixed with water, will be used to disinfect the areas that were affected by the flood. The components will then be washed down with water. When all of the components have dried, any vents or fans that were removed for cleaning can be re-installed.
When to Discard Components
Fibrous components, such as insulation and filters, will be removed and discarded. Any other components that were affected by flood water and could not be appropriately cleaned will also be removed and discarded. This includes components that may have eroded or rusted due to water contact. If these components are not removed, the HVAC systems will continue to circulate contaminated air and may not work efficiently.
Running HVAC Systems after Cleaning
It is recommended that the building owner run the system normally for up to 72 hours before the building becomes reoccupied to allow air to cycle through the system. If the smell of mold or mildew persists, the system may require additional cleaning and repairs.
Once the building reopens or the residents return, the HVAC systems should be checked weekly for any remaining contaminants and to ensure the system is working properly. During the first few inspections, the filters should be replaced in order to remove any remaining airborne contaminants or mold spores.