Can a Power Outage Damage an AC Unit?

When a storm causes a power outage, it can shake up your family and home. Few things remind us of nature’s unpredictable power, like severe thunderstorms with nearby lightning do. 

Once the weather settles, you want all systems functioning normally, including your air conditioning system. Can a power outage damage an AC unit? 

Below, JC Heating & Cooling’s AC repair experts in Hodgkins, IL, provide some helpful insights to assist you in navigating the next storm or outage while protecting your comfort. Continue reading to learn how outages might affect your system.

The Difference Between Outages And Surges

First, you should know the difference between a power outage and a power surge. Many people confuse the two since both can result in electricity stoppage. But they occur for very different reasons. 

For example, a power outage may happen when the flow of electricity to your home stops because:

  • Something disconnected a power line.
  • The utility company stopped the electricity flow.
  • A powerline pole fell.
  • Any event stopping electricity from traveling along its infrastructure to your home. 

A power surge occurs when too much electricity surges into the system, such as when the surge follows an outage. When the utility company reconnects electrical infrastructure, it causes too much electrical power to flow into your home and appliances. In other cases, power surges can also cause power outages as they damage the system or trip the breakers.

What Happens During a Power Outage?

As power fails to reach your home, you’ll notice all electrical systems and appliances stop working. This not only leads to an eerie silence accompanied by darkness but follows a process as designed when electrical failure affects your air conditioner.

  1. Your air conditioner will cease all operations immediately. No electricity means no energy to fuel its mechanical components and capabilities.
  2. The temperature inside your home will gradually begin shifting to match outdoor temperatures. If you’re using the heat settings, you’ll notice the room becomes chillier. If you were running the air conditioner before the outage, you’d feel the room heat up. 
  3. Without a power source, your air conditioner cannot filter humidity out of your home. The indoor air will feel more moist and thick than it previously did.

Can a Power Outage Damage an AC Unit?

In most cases, the power will come back on without causing electrical damage. Your HVAC system should work just as it did before. 

But can a power outage damage an AC unit? Yes, it certainly can. However, the power outage itself rarely causes the damage. 

Usually, the damage occurs as a result of a surge. When your air conditioner receives too much electricity to process, its electrical components will take the brunt of the blow. The power surge may occur because of reconnected electrical infrastructures or happen if lightning strikes your unit. 

The potential damage your system sustains includes the following:

  • Busted compressor
  • Failed blower motor
  • Blown fuses
  • Electrical disconnections
  • Control panel malfunctions

Thankfully, you can avoid these issues with a few simple precautions. 

Power Outage Protection

Power outage protection begins with prevention. Stay updated on your local weather patterns to anticipate any severe storms. When you become aware of an oncoming storm, try to find out whether it caused power outages in other areas.

During storms that produce outages, turn off as many electrical appliances as possible, including your air conditioner. Keep them off until your lights come back on to prevent surge complications. Alternatively, you can purchase surge protectors and voltage monitors to further protect your unit. 

What To Do Following a Power Outage

Immediately following a power outage, use this checklist to preserve conditioned air in your home:

  • Close all windows and doors that may allow outdoor air to infiltrate your home.
  • Go to your thermostat and switch the setting to “Off.”
  • If you have battery-powered fans, place them in the room with you. Use them to keep the air moving. 
  • Check the circuit breaker connected to the HVAC system. Did the outage trigger the switch? If so, switch it back to its original position. 
  • Keep your HVAC system powered for 30 minutes following the initial surge that returns electricity to your home. Your system can safely reset without risking a power overload. 
  • After 30 minutes, turn your air conditioner back on. Set your indoor temperature to five degrees lower than the outdoor temperature. 

How To Prevent Damage From Outages

When in doubt, always turn off all possible electrical appliances before a severe storm or another planned outage in your area. This measure is the best practice to prevent severe damage to expensive home systems. When appliances don’t use electrical resources, they aren’t as likely to fail from outages and surges.

Under rare circumstances, a powered-up appliance can direct electrical surges throughout your whole home. This could affect your entire electrical network, leading to extensive electrical repairs. And you’ll have to replace the appliance that conducted the initial surge. 

Either way, you risk expensive repair and replacement bills by powering down appliances and electronics during severe stormy weather.  

How To Handle Potential Damage

So, what should you do if your air conditioner sustains damage from a power outage? You followed the above steps to reboot your HVAC system. Yet your air conditioner doesn’t perform.

Avoid attempting to fix the problem alone. Your air conditioner has an electrical issue. Electricity is a dangerous medium that can injure or kill people who don’t know how to handle it appropriately, so call a licensed and insured HVAC technician to diagnose and fix the problem. 

They’ll have the necessary personal protection equipment and know the protocols for safely handling an electrical failure. In most cases, they’ll replace the component that took the brunt of the electrical impact. However, you may need a complete system replacement for more extensive damage. 

Contact JC Heating & Cooling Following Concerning Outage Complications!

Can a power outage damage an AC unit? Yes! Let JC Heating & Cooling service your unit when your thermostat or AC compressor won’t turn on following an outage—call 708-505-7983 today!