The humid summers we get to enjoy in Indiana make us get our monies worth out of our air conditioners; however, these hot, humid weather conditions also are ideal in creating a thunderstorm. Having your air conditioner on during a thunderstorm can lead to some damage to your unit, so it’s best to switch it off when bad weather conditions approach. Fortunately, humidity and temperatures drop when storms roll in, so you will get some relief even though your air conditioner is not on.

Why is it important for your air conditioner to be off during a thunderstorm?

  • Lightning Strikes

Even though lightning strikes to the home are rare, there is still chances during a storm. The electrical service drop, where your utility lines connect to the house on the roof, is a very vulnerable point for lightning strikes. If lightning hits at this point, it can cause a power surge through your home’s electrical system. As much as five billion joules of energy can be sent through your home’s wiring before the breakers are triggered to trip – in a fraction of a second, the surge can cause serious damage to your air conditioner if it is in use.

  • Air Conditioner Damage

The damage caused by a lightning strike can render your air conditioner unusable. It can melt the plug to your unit. The air conditioner’s control panel is full of sensitive electrical circuitry which can be damaged, requiring extensive repair or even replacement of your air conditioner. They unit’s controls can be corrupted to the entire heating and cooling system if a lighting strike occurs while your unit is operating.

How do I protect my air conditioner?

Unfortunately, surge protectors do not provide the level of protection needed against a surge from a lightning strike, so plugging your air conditioner into one won’t be saving your unit. If you live in an area with a high occurrence of lightning strikes, you can protect your air conditioner by installing a protection system. Using lightning rods, conductors and ground rods, you’ll be creating an alternate path for lighting to reach the ground so lightning won’t travel through your home’s electrical system. However, these systems are not 100 percent effective at preventing surges, so it is best to still keep your air conditioner off when storms roll through your neighborhood.

Can I use my air conditioner during a rain storm?

It is perfectly safe to use your air conditioner during a rain storm. Rain will not interfere with your unit’s ability to function correctly. In fact, using your system on warm, rainy days can keep your home more comfortable – your indoor evaporator coils extract moisture and lower humidity levels, which improves comfort levels indoor. Now if rain storms result in flooding and you have standing water around your air conditioner, you should stop using the system, and turn off power at your home’s electrical panel to prevent damage. Always have your air conditioner inspected by one of our HVAC professionals before using it after flooding. Click here for a full list of licensed HVAC professionals in your area.