What Happens When Lightning Strikes an AC?

Published on: July 7, 2014
Lightning strike | AC Southeast®

When lightning strikes a home, it can cause severe damage to electrical and plumbing fixtures. Lightning strikes can cause a power surge that leads to blown fuses and burnt components. Sometimes, the damage done to an air conditioning unit is immediate and evident. Other times, the parts are only mildly affected but show signs of damage a few months down the road. For example, a mild power surge can harm the capacitor, which is not expensive to replace. Left unchecked, a damaged capacitor can cause compressor failure in the future.

Checking for Damage from Lightning

The first thing to do if you suspect that lightning struck your home is to document the situation. Write down the date and time and any events leading up to the strike. Take pictures or videos of any damage. If the air conditioning in your home is not working after a lightning strike, check the thermostat. If the power is off on the thermostat, first try to turn it back on. If it doesn’t power on, check the breaker for the unit or replace the battery. If the thermostat still does not turn on, find a contractor like one of the experts available through AC Southeast®.

If the thermostat does turn on, set the temperature to the point where the fan powers on. Make sure the fan powers on around the same time as the condenser. Check the outdoor condenser, as well. There should be two circuit breakers near the outdoor unit. Even if the breakers are on, reset them by switching them off and on again. If they turn back off, contact a professional. The contractors available through AC Southeast® can inspect your unit and help you determine whether air conditioning repair or AC replacement is necessary.

How to Prevent Damage During a Lightning Storm

Your air conditioner should be turned off during lightning storms. This will not prevent damage if the air conditioning unit itself is struck, but it can minimize damage from power surges and help you avoid AC replacement.