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Help Your Customers Deal with Hurricane, Flood Aftermath

Originally published: 09.11.17 by Pete Grasso

Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area, with massive flooding throughout southwest Texas and Louisiana. And now, residents in Florida start to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Irma pounded the state over the weekend. The aftermath of both of these storms has left thousands under water, without power and even homeless.

Long after the winds die down and the rain stops, efforts to rebuild these areas will continue. As local business owners — as an industry — it’s important to be there for the community.

Located just outside Houston in Waller, Texas, Goodman Manufacturing was right in the thick of the storm and has been going above and beyond to help its local community and its contractor customers.

As cleanup commences, it’s important for you to educate your customers on the dangers of starting up their HVACR systems after flooding.

I recently spoke with Nathan Walker, senior vice president for Goodman, on this important issue.

How has Goodman faired during and after Hurricane Harvey?

We were fortunate enough to survive Harvey and continue to provide customers with consistent product output. We were working in less than favorable conditions — and with less than 100 percent employees as well — but we came together and were able

to get up and running almost immediately following the storm.

There is a huge safety issue when it comes to starting up their AC units after such a severe storm and flood. While contractors know this, it’s something they really need to be in communication with their customers about.

What kind of damage?

Several things could happen. First and foremost, before we even talk about what kind of damage could have occurred, we strongly recommend everyone have a certified HVACR technician take a look at the full system prior to starting it back up. Many people will want to simply fire everything back up and see what works, but it's highly advisable that a technician checks it out first. The damage may not be visible.

First of all, there's the electrical concern — which is probably the biggest. If you think about the condensing unit and all the connections to the compressor, if those were under water it may not be obvious what kind of damage might be done there or whether or not it’s even dry yet.

Water and electricity don't mix, so there's a potential for a lot of damage

The second level of potential damage comes as the unit may have moved during the storm. Whether from high winds or heavily flowing flood waters, the unit itself could have shifted around, causing damage to the connection to the indoor unit or cracks in the discharge line.

This creates an opportunity for some of those floodwaters to get inside the sealed system as well. Starting the unit under those conditions, obviously, isn’t a good idea.

The third danger goes back to floodwaters and the nasty stuff that could transfer to the system. The floodwaters could cause the unit to be caked with a lot of residue from the dirty water. If that’s really the only problem, that would be good news, but it would definitely need to be cleaned off by a technician prior to restarting the unit.

What additional damage could be done if a homeowner tried to turn it on without getting it checked first?

Trying to start anything that has water can cause substantial damage. Needless to say, that can make it a lot worse. Most units have a disconnect by the outdoor unit, and that would be the best place to start. That would ensure power doesn't get back to the unit

Sometimes, after a flood, when a homeowner returns to assesses the situation and the power comes back on, they know the food in the refrigerator and freezer is ruined because it wasn’t running, even if it is now. But they look at the air conditioning unit and it's sitting right there — or very close to — where it was before, so their first thought might be, “Great!”

Appearances are misleading as this point.

What how would you recommend contractors communicate this message to their customers?

Contractors know their market and communicate regularly with their customers. Most have pretty good records of installations and customers who may be in affected areas, so step number one is to reach out to the customers you know are in flooded areas — whether that be via email or phone call — and let them know they need to have that system checked out prior to turning it back on.

Social media is a great tool to get the word out for contractors who use it.

What kind of assistance can contractors expect Goodman?

We’re offering discounts directly to contractors with the expectation that they pass those along to the to their customers, as well as some follow up to ensure that homeowners getting the benefit of those discounts.

We want to leave the contractor in charge of their customer relationship and so we’re offering discounts to make it easier on the contractor to do that.

What is Goodman doing locally to help out the victims of Harvey?

Daikin, the parent company for Goodman, is actively participating in the rebuilding efforts for employees and other community members whose lives have been affected.  The company has recently donated $100,000 to the Red Cross and $100,000 to WARM (Waller Assistance & Restoration Ministries).

The donation to the Red Cross will be used to support the community members and employees who experienced losses. 

Beyond the $100,000 donation to WARM, additional donations will be accepted specifically for Daikin and Goodman employees who suffered substantial losses due to the unrelenting storms.

How can others contribute?

WARM, is a federally recognized 501(c) (3) near the DTTP (Daikin Texas Technology Park) campus. This is a special program established to accept donations and deliver them directly to Daikin employees who have been displaced or had their homes or vehicles flooded.

To donate to this fund please direct your gift to WARM (40070 US-290 BUS, Waller, TX 77484) and indicate that it should be dispersed to Daikin and Goodman employees.  Alternatively, PayPal donations can be made to WARM by sending money to WarmTreasures@gmail.com. A receipt from WARM will be provided through a PayPal email. These funds will be dispersed based upon employee needs.

About Pete Grasso

Pete is the editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!


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