Dealing with severe weather is just another part of life living in Birmingham. Every year the area experiences some incredibly strong storms complete with whipping winds, lightning, and destructive tornados. These things are the stuff of homeowner nightmares, causing extreme damage to your home and your HVAC system. Lightning can be especially damaging, partially because it is so common in the area. When your home experiences a direct strike, it’s not only scary as you-know-what, but it can also wreak havoc with every electrical appliance you have in your home.
Protecting your HVAC system from lightning strikes is all about prevention. Much of the damage caused by lightning comes in the form of a power surge through your home’s wiring, as opposed to damage from a direct lightning strike itself. Direct strikes are uncommon, and unfortunately, there is little you can do to safeguard against that type of harm. Surges, however, are another matter…let’s look at some ways you can protect your property from this shocking threat.
Turn Off Your HVAC System During a Storm
Some experts say you don’t have to do this, but we’re firmly in the camp of being safe rather than sorry. If you expect severe weather in your area, it’s best to go ahead and shut off power to your HVAC system and thermostat. If no power is running to your equipment, it makes it much harder for a power surge to cause a problem. So why not take the time to invest in an ounce of prevention? It could prevent costly repairs after the storm has passed.
Invest in a Surge Protector
As mentioned above, most damage from a lightning storm doesn’t come in the form of direct lightning strikes. Instead, it arrives in the form of a power surge when power is restored to your property after an outage. These surges increase the voltage running through the wires of your home and can cause severe damage to any of your electrical equipment, including your HVAC system. Once an electrical component has received damage from a power surge, it can be difficult to repair, which means you will likely need replacement parts to fix the problem.
This type of damage is exactly why investing in a whole-home surge protector is so important. A quality surge protection system is layered, meaning that surge protection is provided not just at the main electrical box, but at different points throughout your home’s wiring. Having surge guards throughout your system adds an extra component of protection ensuring the safety of all electronics in your household.
Make Sure the Electrical is Installed Properly
Protecting your HVAC system from electrical damage starts with the installation of your system. Always invest in highly-experienced, quality contractors to do your HVAC installation. Faulty wiring and connections can lead to all sorts of problems, including damage during a lightning storm.
Usually, systems with wiring issues will show symptoms of a problem before a lightning strike, or power surge event happens. If you notice your system shutting off or turning on at odd times, or have issues with your thermostat not behaving as it should, it’s time to call in a professional for an inspection. A technician can identify and repair any wiring issues before a storm rolls in, saving you some money on expensive replacement parts!
If You Experience Damage, Document Everything
If you do experience electrical damage, document, document, document! Write down everything that led up to the storm, the date and time of the storm, what happened during the storm, and when you noticed an issue with your HVAC system. Insurance companies can be notoriously picky about covering damage from lightning strikes and surges, so you will need to provide as much information as possible. If you experienced a direct strike, take pictures of any visible damage as well. Also, document any other electrical devices that stopped working after the storm – multiple electrical items tend to go down after a massive surge.
Once you have documented the event, it’s time to have a technician come in and confirm the damage. They will provide a list of everything affected by the storm and what must be done to fix the problems. Having all of this information at hand for your insurance company will make the process of filing a claim that much easier, leading to quicker repairs and a fast return to a regular home.
Think you have experienced damage from a lightning storm? Give us a call at (205) 871-8111 to schedule an inspection.