Is It Safe to Run Your AC During a Storm?

Spring and summer can bring storms, often with lightning. If the weather turns violent, using your air conditioner during a thunderstorm can do some damage to your unit. Consider these reasons to prepare your air conditioner to turn off before the storm comes.

Lightning Can Strike

Lighting strikes can cause a significant power surge through your home’s electrical system if they strike at the electrical service drop. A lightning strike can deliver up to five billion joules of energy through your home’s wiring before the breakers are tripped. This sudden surge can cause serious damage to your unit even in a fraction of a second.

Extensive Air Conditioner Damage

Due to the surge, the control panel of the unit and the plug could no longer function due to the delicate electrical circuitry they contained. A lightning strike while the heating and cooling system is running can corrupt the controls, resulting in the entire system failing. The severity of the damage may require the replacement of the entire HVAC system.

How to Tell If Lightning Struck Your Air Conditioner

Usually, air conditioning damage is not visible. At first glance, the device appears to be in good condition. However, there could be hidden issues. You can try turning on the thermostat and checking the circuit breaker if nothing happens. You should also replace the thermostat’s battery.

If the thermostat is working properly, the fan and the condenser should both turn on at the same time. Make sure you pay attention to these and, if needed, reset the circuit breaker.

When the unit does not start, but the system is switched on, the problem could lie with the outdoor unit. Make sure the condenser is working and that nearby breakers are reset if necessary. Get in touch with an HVAC technician if the problem continues.

How Can I Protect My Air Conditioner?

Because central Illinois is prone to thunderstorms and lightning strikes, you may want to install a lightning protection system. The lightning protection system creates an alternate path for lightning to reach the earth, so it won’t pass through your home’s electrical system.

Despite their effectiveness, these devices cannot completely prevent surges. Turning off your air conditioner during storms is still a good idea.

Keep Your Air Conditioner Off During a Storm

Turning off your air conditioner during a thunderstorm can save you money while ensuring that your cooling system is working properly. If you detect changes in your HVAC system after bad weather, give us a call or fill out our service request form.