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Protecting Your HVAC System from Lightning Damage
Florida is one of the most amazing places to view and track storms. From hurricanes and tornadoes to extreme lightning and thunderstorms, you’re sure to see all kinds of storm formations. The key is to be prepared for dangerous conditions that exist during storms. Typically, when larger storms breach our shores, we are forewarned. Extreme weather can move in quickly and without warning, so it is important that we understand how to protect our major home systems such as the whole home heating and air conditioning system. Lightning is one of the biggest events that will damage our homes and can even damage a HVAC unit without directly striking the unit.
Rainbow Lakes Heating and Air Conditioning has been in the Central Florida area for over 20 years. We have seen many homes suffer unnecessary damage due to storms. This month, we wanted to share with our readers some of our tried and true damage prevention tips they can use to help protect their HVAC units from lightning.
Turn Your Air Conditioning System Off
The first step we always give to our clients is to turn your air conditioning system off when lightning is present. Turning a unit off prevents electric currents from flowing through it keeping the ac unit from attracting the surge a lightning strike would create. There is still a possibility a lightning strike can cause damage because the ac unit is still using minimal power, but less likely than if it was running.
If your unit gets struck by lightning, it’s simply bad luck. The best thing you can do to protect yourself during a lightning storm is to turn the thermostat off, then your unit can’t get hurt,
Turn Circuit Breakers Off
Next we tell people to turn circuit breakers off, this will eliminate any power that may have been running through the unit. Often, even when turned off, features like the clock and temperature may still be monitored, this uses very minimal power, but power nonetheless. Turning the circuit off at the breaker interrupts the power completely and will be your best protection against lightning strikes.
Use a Surge Protector
Use a surge protector, especially if you cannot turn off the ac unit completely. A good surge protector isn’t cheap and should come with a warranty. This will keep your unit from feeling a spike in voltage that may occur after a storm.
Damage to Other Appliances or Electronics
Damage due to a lightning strike is hard to see when the HVAC unit did not take a direct strike. Sometimes, damage may not be visible until long after the storm. Homeowners will often see a decrease in efficiency that will become more prevalent over time. We recommend that anytime homeowners weather a storm that creates damage to other appliances or electronics that they have their air conditioning systems checked as well.
Create A Storm Journal
One thing many people overlook is that damage may not be immediate, sometimes it takes months for the fault to happen. We tell our homeowners to document storms. Create a storm journal that you can use to record any storm damage even if it was in the neighborhood. Remember power surges aren’t restricted to the home, they can happen anywhere along the power path. Many insurance companies will cover damage that can be a proven result of lightning and will accept documentation.
Components such as capacitors and compressors are usually the most common areas of damage. These can be avoided by turning off the HVAC or turning the circuit breaker off. If you start to notice a less efficient air conditioning system, it is important to call your local air conditioner repair specialist to check your HVAC system.