MISHAWAKA/FORT WAYNE — Hundreds of homes in the Michiana area have been affected by massive spring flooding and, as waters recede, homeowners may be asking how to handle their heating and plumbing equipment, usually found in basements.
“As little as three inches of water can completely devastate a furnace because that blower motor may have kicked water up onto your circuit board. At a bare minimum, furnace filters are almost always trashed.” said Home Comfort Experts Operations Manager James Olesen. “My technicians are reporting dozens of homes with just a skim of water up to seven feet with their water heater detached and floating in the middle of the basement.”
General Manager Brian West said, “This is an unexpected tragedy for our area and, unfortunately some heating and plumbing companies will use it to take advantage of people.”
First of all, West said, you’ll want to consult your homeowner’s insurance claims department to see how you are covered and whether it is for repairs, replacement or both. Your county or city government may have access to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster relief as well. The process can be frustrating to a homeowner and this is not an area where your HVAC company can help because they cannot bill insurance.
“What we can do is let you know the extent of the damage and what can be done,” Olesen said. “Three inches of water will shut off a water heater, blow the circuit board in your furnace and possibly overpower your sump pump motor. All these things should be professionally inspected before you try to turn them back on. Luckily for homeowners, we’re in between seasons and you have time to research and make good choices.”
Olesen reminds homeowners that HVAC and plumbing equipment deals with carbon monoxide, which can cause illness or death; natural gas, which can cause fires and explosions; and electricity, which can cause fires and electrocutions.
“It’s serious business and you really need a professional with experience to evaluate your equipment,” he said. “Not to mention the mold and air quality damage than can occur in a flooded home. Fortunately, there are products that can take care of that too.”
West said extent of damage, water height, and brand of equipment will tell a technician what warranties apply, what parts are affected and what your next steps are.
“Our hearts go out to all those in our area who were hit by this flooding and we want to help in whatever way we can,” he said.