Summer is the time of year when air conditioning demand peaks, and is also the season most conducive to thunderstorms. While lighting strikes are unpredictable and statistically happen only rarely, they can do a lot of damage to your home heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system when they do occur. Anderson Refrigeration, a top HVAC contractor in the state, elaborates on the risks below.
The Most Vulnerable Part of Your Home
The worst-case scenario is for a lightning strike to hit your home’s electrical service drop, the point where the utility lines connect to the house. A lightning strike here will send a surge of up to five billion joules of energy through the lines and into your home.
What About Surge Protection?
You may be thinking that at this point the circuit breakers would kick in and protect your system. While it’s true that the surge would trip the circuit breakers, in the short time before the circuit breakers intervene — roughly a fraction of a second — the surge could still do some serious damage to a running air conditioner.
The good news is that in the event a surge flows through your home while the AC unit is running, an explosion is unlikely; air conditioning units are insulated and the refrigerants they use are non-flammable. The bad news is that your HVAC unit is likely to be damaged. The power surge may be melt your AC unit’s plug or damage it’s sensitive electrical circuits and temperature controls, in which case you’ll most likely need to replace your HVAC unit.
Given all these risks, we strongly recommend turning off your AC unit during a thunderstorm. Besides, since humidity and temperatures typically drop during thunderstorms, it shouldn’t be too hard to survive a few hours without air conditioning.
Keep in mind, however, that there are other factors which can cause your HVAC system to short-circuit. Considering that summer is the time when you need air conditioning the most, it would be a good idea to have your AC unit inspected by an experienced HVAC contractor.
Anderson Refrigeration, an HVAC repair contractor with nearly four decades’ worth of experience, offers a wide range of HVAC-related services. To set up a consultation, call us at (575) 446-4923 or fill out this form. We serve homeowners in Alamogordo, NM.