Summer Thunderstorms: Are Your Prepared For Power Outages?
Here in South Carolina, especially in the afternoons, we experience summer thunderstorms. Sometimes these summer thunderstorms grow to severe levels. The high winds, lightning and torrential rains can wreak havoc on your HVAC system. Taking steps to protect the system and being prepared for severe weather will protect your safety and comfort.
Why are summer thunderstorms so dangerous for your HVAC system? It releases energy in the form of lightning, traveling at the speed of light and extending 10 to 12 miles from the storm. Once you hear thunder, lightning is possible. Lightning strikes can carry an electric current of 30,000 amperes, which is enough to destroy electronic components of your HVAC system. The temperature of lightning is about five times hotter than the surface of the sun. This is more than hot enough to melt the metal components of your air conditioner or heat pump. In addition to the lightning strike, rain and heavy winds can also damage these units.
Preparing for severe weather: Since thunderstorms are such a common occurrence in the summer, homeowners would be wise to prepare for severe weather in advance. Some important steps to include:
- Purchase a weather radio and program it to your locale.
- Download a severe weather-warning app to your smartphone or tablet.
- Maintain a current and well-stocked emergency supply kit.
- Go inside when you hear thunder.
- When a severe thunderstorm watch is announced, bring in any objects that can become airborne and strike the outdoor unit.
- Unplug the system before the storm hits your area.
Protecting your HVAC system from electrical outages: take these steps before, during and after the storm to protect from power outages and other damages.
- Shut off the circuit breaker that supplies power to the system. Unplug the power cord to prevent current from flowing into the unit.
- The unit itself may attract lightning – do not touch it when a storm is in the area.
- Assess the damage after the storm has passed. Do not approach the unit if power lines are down.
- Keep the system shut off and unplugged until the power is restored. A surge of power could “fry” the unit.
If your system is damaged as a result of a summer thunderstorm, call us at LHT Cooling, Heating and Refrigeration, Inc. to assess your situation.