Ask an Expert: Investigating HVAC Damages

DonanEngineering Ask an Expert, Hail and Wind, HVAC Forensics, HVAC Managers, Lightning Investigation, Lightning/Power Surge

Ask An Expert is a question-and-answer column designed to address common questions related to forensic investigation and property damage. Each month we’ll feature one or two questions submitted by you – our readers and customers – and provide detailed, easy-to-understand answers. Email your questions to [email protected] or submit your questions here.

Q: Can lack of maintenance contribute to a power surge?

Curtis VanNess: With poor maintenance practices an HVAC system is far more susceptible to a failure.  In the event of a power surge or lightning event, failures can occur with different levels of dirt on the coils or filter.  A lightning-induced power surge does not pick and choose based on how often you perform maintenance.

Q: Will exposure to hot smoke destroy an interior air handler?

Curtis: The heavy soot or smoke can cake to all surfaces including hard to clean insulation and blower motor windings.  Yes an intense fire can destroy an indoor unit, especially if it was running during the event.

Q: Can the new “micro channels” on rooftop units be repaired?

Curtis: Hail dents to these coils cannot be repaired.  Some manufacturers sell repair kits for these.  But again this repair is not commonly taught or practiced in the field.

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About the Expert

Curtis VanNess is General Manager of Donan’s HVAC Forensics. He has 10 years of HVAC experience, with four of those years dedicated to forensic investigations. He played an integral role in refining Donan’s forensic investigation process for determining the cause of loss to HVAC systems. He has experience in all HVAC equipment, as well as a diverse background in construction and communications. Mr. VanNess has an HVAC Master license in the state of Kentucky, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Indiana. He commonly instructs small groups in both live events and webinars. View Curtis VanNess’s full professional profile here.

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