Changing Temperatures Can Affect HVAC Systems In Unpleasant Ways

May 25, 2014

Hot water heater , gas furnace and air conditioning unitMany utility workers dread the changing temperatures of winter. When temperatures change frequently, pipes are affected and water lines burst. Trees freeze and break, then fall on power lines. Changing temperatures are hard on home utilities leading to much necessary Home Utility Maintenance. Pipes are particularly affected when temperatures drop from holding relatively steadily in the 30°Fs and 40°Fs for a week, then suddenly dropping down into the teens for several nights before rising back to the 30°Fs. The expansion and contraction and expansion again that takes place in water pipes causes such pressure in them that some rupture or burst. Did you know that they can burst inside HVAC systems as well?

HVAC systems, especially those with humidifiers, contain water lines. Like any water line, these may freeze and break with temperature changes during the winter. Unlike kitchen and bathroom water pipes, whose leakage has immediately noticeable results, however, problems from a burst line in your HVAC system may not be apparent for months. The reason pipes burst is because water, unlike other liquids, expands before it freezes. As it expands, it begins to fill the interior of the pipe. Once frozen, it may form a blockage made of ice. Oddly enough, the pipe does not burst from the pressure of the ice itself on the pipe. The rupture is created by the pressure that builds in the pipe between the blockage and the downstream end of the pipe which is closed by the faucet. When the pressure becomes great enough, the pipe will split or burst.

It is always wise to schedule an appointment for regular yearly A/C maintenance and a checkup of the system before turning it on for the summer. It is particularly important after a rugged winter when utilities have suffered from temperature changes. Your certified HVAC technician can do some HVAC troubleshooting to specifically check for any hidden damage from burst and broken machinery or pipes from the past season. Then you can have any necessary HVAC Repairs done while the damages are small and easily corrected, if possible. If the technician discovers you do indeed have burst pipe damage, it is easier to repair it before turning on the system and allowing the damage to cause a major malfunction or even ruin an older system. After repairs are completely, regular checkups as part of your Home Utility Maintenance plan should keep it running smoothly.