During hot, humid summers, many people wonder whether they should turn off their air conditioner during thunderstorms. Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Running your ac during a storm can put your air conditioning system at risk for damage from lightning strikes and power surges. The reason is that your ac unit connects to the home through utility lines that are located on the roof.
While lightning strikes are rare, they are still a risk during thunderstorms. These strikes can produce a massive power surge that can impact your entire electrical system, including your air conditioning system.
This can cause severe damage to your ac unit, and you may have to pay for expensive repair or replacement work. Fortunately, there are some ways to reduce the risk of a lightning strike from damaging your ac unit, and you should take these precautions when you see a storm approaching.
While surge protectors can reduce the risk of your ac system getting damaged from a power surge, they do not guarantee that your ac will not get fried by a lightning strike. This is because a lightning strike can send as much as 5 billion joules of energy through your wiring before your breakers are triggered to trip.
A lightning surge can fry the sensitive electrical circuits in your ac system, making it nearly impossible for your ac to work properly again. At the very worst, a lightning strike can destroy your ac’s capacitor or compressor.
In addition to damage from a lightning strike, you can also experience damage from debris that gets blown into your ac unit during a storm. This can include trash, branches, and other debris that gets lodged in the outdoor condenser coil.
It is a good idea to wash the outside condenser coil of your ac unit with water before a thunderstorm to prevent any debris from getting lodged in it. If you do, make sure that the coil is dry before you turn on your ac again.
Then, check to see if your ac starts up correctly once the storm passes. If the ac does not start up, then it is time to call an HVAC technician for help.
There are also some other reasons that you should not run your ac during a thunderstorm, including torrential rain. Unlike lightning, rainstorms don’t pose a serious threat to your ac, as long as they don’t cause significant flooding or standing water in the area around your ac.