Don't Let Sky Booms Become Home Bummers: How To Protect Your HVAC System From Lightning Damage

Posted on: 15 June 2016

Whether you believe in global warming or not, experts warn that rising temperatures make lightning a far more likely occurrence. In fact, a new study claims that for each incremental degree (Celsius) that higher median temperatures rise, we should expect a 12% increase in lightning strikes.

Any electrical system in your home is vulnerable to breakdown or complete destruction when lightning hits, so take some precautions to ensure your heating and air conditioning unit is ready for storms.

Surge suppressors

A small plug-in power strip with electrical surge protection may guard a small window AC unit or space heater from electrical surge damage, but a whole-house HVAC system needs a whole-house solution.

Install a whole-home surge system directly at your electrical box to protect all of your small and large electrical appliances and devices. Your local power company will often have technicians available do the job, or you can have a licensed private electrical contractor do the work. Make certain they are bonded and their work carries a warranty.

Some whole-home surge suppression systems offer guarantees if your HVAC or other electronics are damaged by lightning. These systems are worth the investment when you factor in how much all of your home's devices and appliances would cost to replace.

Grounding for conductive areas

Because the metal ductwork in your home can conduct electricity, it needs to be grounded in order to prevent shocks and other electrical problems during electrical storms. If you aren't sure whether your HVAC unit is grounded properly, you should consult a heating and repair expert to inspect your system.

Arc faults occur when there is improper construction or damage to components in your HVAC system. Short circuits in these damaged areas create high heat conditions which can start home fires and perforate any corrugated stainless steel tubing located near the arcing. If that tubing carries gas, there's suddenly plenty more fuel to feed the fire.

Sometimes ductwork must be bonded with straps or other materials to prevent any arcing that might occur during electrical surges and storms. Bonding equalizes the electrical potential between all of the conductive materials. When metals and other electricity-conducting materials are bonded together, this can significantly reduce the risk of arcing.

Other precautions you should take to protect your system from storms include: removing all junk from around your HVAC unit to lower the chance of trash catching fire, having a weather-resistant cover installed for your outdoor AC compressor to keep storm debris from stopping or stalling the fan inside, and having yearly inspections of your system to check for any damage or problems.

Your HVAC professionals know the latest codes and suggested precautions to keep your cooling and heating system safe during lightning storms. They're happy to explain all of your options to keep your home comfortable and your HVAC system free from storm damage. Companies like Elite Heating, Cooling and Plumbing may be able to meet your needs in this area.


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