Causes And Effects Of A Power Surge On Air Conditioning Systems

A power surge occurs if the electrical supply to a circuit or appliance suddenly increases above the normal level. Although power surges can last seconds or minutes, they can still damage electrical appliances, including air conditioners. Below are the causes of power surges, AC damages from power surges, and the protection surge protectors offer.

Causes of Power Surge

Several things can elevate electrical power to dangerous levels. Below are a few examples.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning is the discharge of electrical power between clouds, within clouds, or between clouds and the ground. If the discharge occurs between clouds and the ground, it can infuse enormous electricity into your power line.

Overloaded Circuits

Your AC can also experience a power surge if it shares an electrical circuit with other appliances and the overall electrical demand exceeds the circuits. For example, you might overload your AC electrical circuit if you have other things like power tools, fridge, and electric oven on the same circuit.

Electrical Equipment Faults

Several electrical faults can cause a power surge. For example, a fault in the electrical panel can connect two circuits operating independently. The interconnection can overload the AC if it includes the AC's circuit.

Downed Power Lines

Power lines carry massive voltage, so individual lines should never touch. Downed power lines, for example, during strong, might bring individual lines into contact and send more electricity than usual to your house.

Utility Company Faults

Power surges can also originate from problems in the electrical company. Just like surges related to downed power lines, surges from utility companies affect the whole house.

Effect on AC

A strong power surge can affect your AC's operations, efficiency, and lifespan. Below are some of the effects.

Tripped Breaker

A power surge can trip the circuit breaker and turn off the AC. If that happens, it might make you think the AC is faulty. In addition, your house will remain warm until you reset the circuit breaker, which might take time if no one is at home.

Damaged Electronic and Electrical Components

A power surge can damage several critical AC parts that require specific voltage ranges for safe operations. For example, a power surge might:

  • Damage the control board that controls the AC's operations. A damaged control board can lead to erratic AC operations. For example, the control board might not call for heat even if your house is hot.
  • Damage to the compressor motor that heats and pressurizes the refrigerant to allow heat exchange. In such a case, your house won't cool even if the AC seems to be running.
  • Damage the start capacitor and relay, which start and keep the AC running. Your AC might fail to start, start with difficulty or start and stop erratically.

Ensure you have a surge protector to protect your AC from power surges. Contact an AC system repair contractor for diagnosis and repair if your AC has already suffered a power surge.