Lightning Strikes and Your AC Condenser

The summer season in the Ottawa area means three things; school’s out, the Ottawa Redblacks are in full swing and the summer thunderstorm season has officially begun! Over the few remaining weeks of summer, we’ll see many thunderstorms roll through the city and with them a flood of service calls from distressed homeowners that have broken ACs. For this reason, we’ve outlined what can happen after lightning strikes and how it will affect your ac condenser, plus how to minimize the chance of a power surge ruining your AC.

The initial lightning strike isn’t what typically damages AC units right away—it’s more likely that the power surges following an outage will cause damage to your AC condenser. The best way to defend your AC from power surges after a storm is to simply shut your system off from the thermostat. For extra precaution, shut off the electrical circuit to the entire HVAC system; however, no measures are an absolute guarantee.

Before you get your AC back up and running after a storm, it’s vital that you first check for signs of electrical damage to hinder any additional risk of property damage. Here are a few problems your air conditioning may have following a lightning strike or power surge:

Damaged Capacitor:  A capacitor is what stores the electrical charge within your AC and thus is one of the most common parts that is damaged from a power surge.

Tripped Circuit Breaker/Blown Fuses: If a power surge has damaged your AC, it’ll likely start tripping the circuit breaker or blow the fuse due to damaged electrical lines.

Damaged Compressor: One of the most expensive parts to fix is the compressor, also known as the outdoor unit of your air conditioner. An AC compressor damaged by a power surge may not be immediately apparent. It may take weeks or even months for it to fail after a large external power surge or lightning strike. If it does turn out to be damaged, the entire unit may have to be replaced (based on the unit’s age), as the cost difference of replacing only the compressor may not be justifiable.

If you’ve noticed a decline in the performance of your AC after a thunderstorm, make sure to have your HVAC unit inspected immediately to avoid more expensive replacements down the road.

Team Harding has provided the Ottawa area with reliable HVAC and air quality services for 24 years. We’re committed to customer satisfaction, quality workmanship and fast, reliable service.

Contact us today with any of your heating or cooling needs.

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