Think Your Air Conditioner Was Struck By Lightning? Five Things You Must Do Now

During violent electrical storms, especially in the summer months, it's not uncommon for your home to be struck by lightning. A common occurrence when this happens is subsequent difficulty with your air conditioning unit. If your air conditioner fails to operate properly in this situation, and you suspect lightning is to blame, here are five things you should do right away. 

Document Any Damage

The first thing you want to do is document any damage to your air conditioner or the area immediately around it. Your air conditioning unit may have burn marks on it, or parts may even have been blown off by the force of the strike. Use a cell phone or camera to take photos from a variety of angles.

While documenting the lightning damage may not help the repair person if they need to come out to the house, it will be needed if you intend to file an insurance claim for the damage. If the entire air conditioner needs to be replaced, it will likely be more than your insurance deductible, so it will be worth making sure the claim goes through. 

Make Sure the Area Is Clear

Sometimes twigs and other yard material can be forced into the fan unit during a storm. Make sure there are no sticks, leaves or other garden debris that could be causing the fan to malfunction. 

Check Your Circuit Breakers

Sometimes an electrical storm can trigger the circuit breakers in the house to shut off to prevent overloading the system. Make sure your breakers are all in the "on" position. You can also try turning the breakers governing the air conditioner to the "off" position and then turning them on again. 

Your air conditioner may also have its own circuit breakers outside for the condenser. These are usually found behind a panel within a few feet of the unit. Set these to "off," then turn them back on again. 

Check Your Thermostat

Check to make sure your thermostat is operating. The date and time should be displayed properly, as well as any programmed information. 

When you turn the thermostat on, as if to start up your air conditioner, what happens? If nothing happens, the problem may be bigger than just the air conditioner, and your fan may need to be checked as well. If the fan comes on but the air conditioner does not, it's probably just your air conditioner that's malfunctioning. If the fan comes on momentarily, then shuts off again, this could be just the air conditioner, or it could be a larger electrical problem. 

Call in the Pros

If trying any of these solutions does not yield results, or if you have clear signs of a lightning strike to the air conditioning unit, it's time to call in a professional HVAC repair person, such as Perry Heating Cooling. They can determine if the unit can be repaired, if you need new parts, or if the entire system needs to be replaced. Be sure to obtain all their documentation for your insurance as well. 

While your HVAC pro is onsite at your home, ask about installing a whole-house surge protector. This can prevent damage due to indirect lightning damage that causes power surges throughout an entire neighborhood and hopefully save you from costly repairs or insurance deductibles in the future.