You may wonder about the safety of your air conditioner when it's stormy with frequent lightning. Lightning could hit your AC condenser directly, or it could strike and affect the wiring in your home. In either case, the storm could put your AC out of service until you've had repairs done. Here's a look at three types of damage a lightning storm might cause your air conditioner.
1. Physical Damage To The AC
A lightning strike has a lot of power, and it can do damage to your roof, trees near your house, and anything that's connected to your home's electrical system. When your house or AC receives a direct hit, there will be physical evidence in the form of char marks, twisted metal, melted rubber, and destroyed wiring.
If you're home at the time, you'll hear a loud bang when your home is hit, so you'll know instantly when it happens. If you return home later to see lightning damage to your AC condenser outdoors, turn off your AC and leave it off until an air conditioning repair service can check all the parts.
2. Damage To Electronic Parts
Lightning can also cause damage due to power surges it sends in your home. Since power surges are so damaging, it's good to turn your AC off just like you might turn off and unplug your electronics when there's a lot of lightning. A power surge might do damage to a capacitor in your air conditioner. This is an electronic part that acts as a battery when your air handler or condenser fan kicks on.
When a capacitor goes bad, the signs might not be obvious unless the capacitor is totally dead. However, if a capacitor is malfunctioning, it can strain the fan motor, blower motor, or even the compressor. This can cause damage to the motors or the compressor, and a compressor is an expensive part to replace. A capacitor is an inexpensive part that should be replaced when it starts to act up so it won't do damage to other parts in your air conditioner.
3. Damage To Wiring
Wiring between the air conditioner and electrical panel might be damaged during a storm. The electrical panel could also be damaged. Fuses in the AC might also be blown out. It can be difficult to know the exact cause of your AC malfunction, especially if there are no external signs of storm damage. However, if your AC trips a circuit breaker repeatedly, turn off the AC and leave it off until a repair technician has checked the system and found the reason for the problem.