Lightning Can Damage HVAC Units, Especially in Florida Homes

Lightning Can Damage HVAC Units, Especially in Florida Homes

Florida may be called the “sunshine state”, but residents know their paradise is also notorious for thunderstorms and lightning strikes.  Florida ranks fourth in the nation for lightning flashes which on average, is around 3,500 cloud to ground flashes per day. The unique geographic location of the state with sea breezes on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts combined with the heat and humidity create the perfect environment for thunderstorms.

It is these same hot and humid conditions that inspire residents to crank up the air conditioners in an effort to beat the heat.  However, operating the air conditioning during a thunderstorm can potentially lead to unforeseen damage to the unit.  While lightning strikes to a home are rare, they are an undeniable possibility during one of Florida’s famous thunderstorms.

Especially in the summer months when air conditioners are performing at their maximum capacities, strong thunderstorms can pop up quickly.  Amid the rain and thunder is the threat of lightning striking a home, or elsewhere on a property such as trees and outbuildings, and damaging electrical wiring and air conditioning systems.

In many such instances, it is not an actual lightning strike to the air conditioning unit that causes damages.  Damage can occur to the system when a power surge follows a lightning strike on the house or nearby property.  Power surges can cause a myriad of issues for your unit such as blown wires and fuses, damaged capacitors and compressors, and thermostat problems.

A vulnerable point in a home that is susceptible to lightning is the electrical service drop where the utility lines are connected at the roof.  If lightning strikes at this point, it can cause a significant power surge through the home’s electrical system before the breakers are even triggered to trip.  This type of strike can result in damage to the air conditioner by melting the plug in the unit or causing extensive damage in the control panel.

Unfortunately, surge protectors do not always provide the level of protection necessary to combat the energy of a lightning strike.  For residents in Florida and other areas prone to lightning strikes, installing a protection system on the home or property can serve to redirect a lightning strikes force away from the home’s electrical system by using lightning rods and conductors.

If an air conditioning system is struck by lightning or damaged through a power surge as a result of a strike to the home, it is important to have the system fully inspected by a certified technician at Veteran Air as soon as possible.  These expert technicians can provide documentation of the damage and repair or replacement needs of the air conditioning system for insurance purposes.  The most important thing to remember is, if after a thunderstorm your air conditioning unit seems to be acting up, have it assessed by a technician to make sure all of the system is in optimum working order.

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