Disaster Recovery: Customers Need Help

Nov. 1, 2012
As HVAC professionals, your expertise is necessary: It enables you to be the advisor who helps get customers back online.

Last month, a hurricane did something many think is unbelievable — it mated with other storm systems, creating something monstrous. Dubbed by meteorologists as “Super Storm Sandy,” this Category 1 hurricane managed to wreak havoc up and down the East Coast of this country, and its stormy tendrils reached deep into the Midwest as well.

Gale-force winds thrashed piers and storm walls, sea water flooded subway systems and basements, and rivers throughout the region spilled over their banks, sending chilly muck over roads into homes, business centers, hospitals, schools, and the like. Even the Great Lakes were whipped up into frothy fists that pounded the shorelines from Chicago to Buffalo.

Millions of homes and buildings lost power. In those areas where flood waters reached record levels, many mechanical systems and equipment became submerged, rendering them useless and even dangerous.

With the passing of the storm comes the difficult work of getting everything repaired/replaced and back online. It also opens the floodgates for charlatans and scam artists to work their trade on a hapless public.

On the other hand, it creates an opportunity for this industry to shine. Building owners and managers need guidance on what to do with their flood-weary mechanical systems. They need education on what NOT to do as well.

As HVAC professionals, your expertise will become much more in demand than normal. You can become the advisor who helps get customers properly back online, which is good for their business as well as yours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a page on its Website for building owners and managers with advice on what they should do to remediate flood-damaged mechanical systems. This might be a good reference place for your customers as they begin considering repairs and replacement of equipment. You can find it by going to this link: bit.ly/HVAC_Flood.

The CDC says microorganisms can grow on the surfaces of any HVAC-system component that was submerged in flood waters. This is an obvious concern for your customers.

The CDC adds: “Moisture can collect in HVAC system components that were not submerged (such as air supply ducts above the water line) and can promote the growth of microorganisms. Therefore, all components of the HVAC system that were contaminated with flood water or moisture should be thoroughly inspected, cleaned of dirt and debris, and disinfected by a qualified professional.”

For those of you serving the data-center industry, there are much different processes and procedures to rescue centers that were damaged by flood waters. In New York City alone, a number of major data centers were severely damaged. Check out this page for more information: http://bit.ly/DataCtr_Flood.

Here is a video I found that could be useful for your data-center customers who want to be better prepared against flooding: http://bit.ly/DataCtrFld.

On the HVAC-Talk.com forum, there are a number of threads that address flood damage and explain that, “Any safety controls that have been underwater must be replaced, including the board, limits, pressure switches.”

The bottom line here is that as reconstruction and repair projects start to come in, you have the opportunity to become heroes for those customers who've suffered disastrous outages and loss because of storms and other natural disturbances.

Give them good information, help them avoid being scammed, and you'll be able to get them back on their feet fast, which is good for them and good for you.