Protect Your HVAC System from Thunderstorms and Lightning Strikes

Protect Your HVAC System from Thunderstorms and Lightning Strikes

    Spring brings Thunderstorms and Power Surges

    With spring in the Miami Valley comes the inevitable arrival of electrical storms. These thunderstorms, accompanied by lightning, can cause damaging power surges to our homes, impacting a wide range of electrical devices. One of the most expensive and critical devices in your home is your air conditioner or heat pump. In this blog post, we’ll discuss way to can protect your HVAC investment from the damaging effects of lightning and power surges.

    Understanding the Threat: Lightning Strikes and Power Surges

    Lightning strikes from thunderstorms are a common cause of power surges in our homes. A power surge is a sudden increase in voltage that can harm nearly any electrical device, including your HVAC system. The damage caused by surges can vary, with effects ranging from blown fuses and burnt capacitors to fried compressors and burnt wires.

    Determining the Cause of Damage

    Since many insurance policies will cover the damage if a power surge can be proven, many customers ask us to provide conclusive proof that lightning caused the damage to their HVAC system. While it’s not always possible to directly prove a lightning strike, other damaged electronics can serve as evidence. Devices such as stereos, TVs, and other electronics tend to be more sensitive to power surges than air conditioners. So, if you find that both your air conditioner and other electronics stop working after a thunderstorm, it’s likely that a power surge has occurred. Sometimes the lightning strike is direct and a service technician can find electrical components melted or even exploded.

    Air conditioner capacitor damaged by lightning strike

    The Importance of Timely HVAC System Checks

    A weak surge may damage an air conditioner’s capacitor leaving it damaged and weak but not destroyed. The capacitor is simple and relatively inexpensive to replace, however, if left unaddressed, this damage can eventually cause the compressor (a much more expensive component) to fail weeks or months later. For this reason, it’s crucial to have a technician check your HVAC system if you suspect a power surge or have other damaged devices in your home.

    Preventing A/C Compressor Damage

    An easy and free way to prevent damage to your air conditioner’s compressor during a lightning storm, is to simply turn off the system at the thermostat. Your air conditioner is mostly susceptible to power surges when the unit is operating. While a direct lightning strike can still cause significant damage, these are relatively rare. The problem with this strategy is that many times storms pass through while we’re sleeping or at work. If only they made an HVAC surge protector like the one for my TV!

    Investing in Surge Protection for Your HVAC System

    To protect your HVAC system from all but direct lightning strikes, we recommend installing an HVAC surge protector specifically designed for air conditioners and heat pumps. Our 24-hour service department can provide more information on this essential protective measure.

    Thunderstorms and lightning strikes can cause serious damage to your HVAC system and other electronics in your home. By investing in surge protection and taking precautions during storms, you can minimize the risk of costly repairs and replacements. If you have more questions or need a service technician, feel free to contact us at any time. We’re here to help ensure your HVAC system remains in peak condition, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

    David Watkins

    David Watkins

    As a third generation HVAC professional, David Watkins grew up around all things heating and air conditioning. He is an expert in airflow and duct design and he leverages his math and science background to lead an HVAC team well-known for their technical capabilities.