If a storm hits and lightning strikes your home, you may wonder, “Can a power surge damage a furnace?” The short answer is yes, as any sudden increase in the electrical current can damage your home’s heating and cooling equipment. Even if the effects do not appear immediately, over time, the damage to the electrical components can cause significant issues that affect indoor comfort.
The following guide will help you understand the impact of electrical damage, the potential furnace issues a power surge can cause, and how to prevent them. As El Cajon’s furnace repair services leader, Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning has an in-depth understanding of power surges and their effects. We are here to help with any furnace problem, whether due to a recent lightning strike, a power outage, faulty wiring, or other issues that can cause a power surge.
The experienced team from Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning has the knowledge and skills to diagnose electrical damage and recommend the most cost-effective way to restore heat. Call us at (619) 949-1039 to schedule prompt service.
What Is a Power Surge?
A power surge is a brief but substantial spike in the electric current flowing into your home. The most common reason for a power surge is a lightning strike during a storm, but surges can also occur when the power comes back on after an outage or voltage drop. Despite typically lasting less than a second, surges create an increase in electricity that can cause widespread and severe damage to your home and any devices plugged into the electrical system, including the HVAC system.
Sometimes, the furnace-damaging power surge comes from the air conditioning. Air conditioners draw a substantial amount of power, so every time they turn off, they cause a sudden voltage increase in the electrical system. The older and more inefficient the air conditioner, the greater this surge since the unit has to draw even more power to operate.
The Effect of a Power Surge on Your Furnace
Although any appliance can sustain damage from a power surge, few are as expensive to repair as the furnace.
Every device, including furnaces, has a limit to how much power it can sustain. Electronics have capacitors, which control the electric current and ensure the device receives the ideal level of power. If a power surge sends more power to the capacitor than it can handle, the component can fail, causing the device to stop working.
Burned-out capacitors in the furnace can cause several issues, including blown fuses and excessive heat. This heat can cause the furnace’s circuit board to overheat, creating short circuits that damage sensitive electrical components like microchips. A power surge can even produce enough heat to start a fire.
Identifying Power Surge Damage and Restarting the Furnace
Now that you have the answer to “Can a power surge damage a furnace?” the next step is learning to identify the damage. In many cases, a power surge or outage can turn off the furnace, and you will need to restart it manually to restore heat.
Before attempting to restart the furnace, check the thermostat. If it is not on, turn it on and set the fan to “auto.” If the thermostat is on, reset it.
Next, check the breaker panel to ensure all the switches are in the correct position. Sometimes, a power surge can trip the breaker switches to stop the excess current, so ensure the furnace will receive power before attempting to restart it. Also, check the GFCI outlet if you use one for the furnace in case it tripped during the power surge.
Once you check the switches, make sure the furnace isn’t flashing any error codes. An error code typically indicates damage inside the furnace, and you should call a professional to investigate and diagnose the problem. If your furnace is more than 15 to 20 years old, an error code after a power surge may indicate significant internal damage that requires a furnace replacement.
Assuming the furnace isn’t showing any error codes, you can try to restart it. Press the start button only once; if the furnace does not come on, call for repairs. Don’t keep pressing the button, as this cause the unit to switch into safety lockdown mode.
Protect Your Furnace from Power Surges
Many customers want to know if they can protect their furnace when they learn the answer to “Can a power surge damage a furnace?” is yes. Fortunately, some home upgrades and protective equipment can help protect your HVAC equipment from the effects of excess electricity.
- Invest in a whole-house surge protector. You probably have surge protectors in your home to protect your computer, television, and other electronics, but these devices aren’t adequate for protecting HVAC equipment. An electrician can install a device that protects your entire home from lightning strikes and other surges, reducing the risk of damage to the furnace.
- Upgrade wiring. If you have an older home, the existing wiring may not be adequate to handle the demands of modern appliances. If your air conditioner regularly trips breaker switches or you have other electrical issues, have an electrician inspect and upgrade the wiring.
- Use volt surge protectors. Appliances like the furnace, refrigerators, and stoves require more electric voltage than other, smaller devices and thus require stronger surge protectors. Volt surge protectors work like power strips but can handle the stronger current load so your expensive appliances don’t sustain damage.
Call Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning for Help with Power Surge Damage
Whenever lightning strikes your home, or you suspect power surge damage, call Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, El Cajon, CA’s leading HVAC company, for help. If you have any concerns about “Can a power surge damage a furnace” or other heating and cooling issues, we are here to help with a team of licensed and insured technicians and a satisfaction guarantee. Call us at (619) 949-1039 to schedule an appointment today.