Why AC service is rescheduled during a thunderstorm
Our location along the Gulf Coast makes our area prone to frequent thunderstorms. And, hurricane season which runs from June to November is another source of severe weather in the Houston area. But rain can still be paired with heat and humidity, which is why we like our air conditioners to be running even if it’s raining. Here’s why your AC company may recommend rescheduling your AC service call during a thunderstorm.
Torrential rain and your AC
If it’s raining like cats and dogs, your air conditioner is safe to run. The outside components are protected from normal, outdoor conditions like moisture. And your system will remove the humidity from the air making it feel cooler indoors.
However, it won’t be a good idea for an AC technician to do a full inspection or diagnosis of your AC system during a heavy rain because the combination of electricity and water is dangerous.
Flooded AC systems
Sometimes we get too much rain at once, and it can cause street flooding or localized flooding. This happens especially when tropical storms, hurricanes or an El Niño weather pattern is in play. An El Nino brings warmer and wetter winters with frequent storms to our area, sometimes a storm every 3-4 days!
If your outside condenser is submerged or you think it will be soon, turn your system off right away and cut the power at the breaker box if you can safely do so. This can help protect the electrical components.
While systems are designed for outdoor conditions, when they are completely submerged it is another issue altogether. Often, those electrical components must be replaced for safety but a full inspection is needed before restarting your AC. An HVAC technician won’t be able to properly inspect your system until it is out of standing water because of the risks of electrocution.
A flooded HVAC system also voids the manufacturer’s warranty. It can possibly be claimed on your homeowner’s or flood insurance policy.
Lightning strikes and your AC
Because your HVAC system is run with sensitive and high voltage electrical components, lightning is a very real danger. If you can hear thunder, lightning is nearby.
HVAC equipment located indoors in the attic as part of your furnace, may have a metal exhaust pipe (also called a flue pipe) that vents the exhaust from natural gas or propane through your roof. Whether you are using your furnace or not, that pipe reaches up through your attic and roof and can act as a lightning rod.
The flue pipe along with all the other metal and electrical parts of your HVAC unit in your attic can conduct electricity. This is why it means that any work in the attic during a lightning storm could be hazardous for an HVAC technician. It’s why we won’t work in the attic around electrical equipment during a lightning storm.
Water, electricity and metal parts = danger
For safety, we do not work on HVAC equipment outside during a thunderstorm because of the high risk of electrocution.
It is a very rare occurrence to have an outdoor AC condenser zapped by lightning during a thunderstorm. The bigger danger is a lightning strike to your home or nearby, causing a power surge. If it does happen, it can mean severe damage to your AC system and every other major electrical appliances in your home.
Surge protectors which are often installed to help protect electrical components and make them last longer are often no match for a blast of 1-5 billion joules of energy.
If you are in a lightning storm and the weather is fierce, you can turn off your HVAC unit by turning up the temperature a little bit and wait until the storm passes. This would give your system a little more protection from lightning. Like your television or computer, your HVAC system has a lot of electronics to protect.
Do you need to schedule AC Service?
Before we begin AC service, we keep an eye on the weather forecast for safety’s sake. Thunderstorms in our area can create a very dangerous working environment when servicing an HVAC system any time of year.
If you are in need of AC maintenance, an HVAC tune-up, or AC replacement, contact Rob and Kenny at Terry’s A/C & Heating at 281-495-7830 to get on our schedule for the day. If a thunderstorm threatens, we can give you options and reschedule for a day, so our HVAC inspection can be thorough and safe.