Like any electrical appliance, your air conditioner or heat pump can be damaged by a power surge caused by a lightning strike. Most homeowners protect sensitive electronics like computers and audio visual equipment from surge damage by using a surge protector strip, but relatively few homes have surge protection for their air conditioner.
A power surge can cause damage to your air conditioner ranging from moderate to severe. It can fry wiring and knock out the compressor, fan, or condenser. The lightning does not have to strike your home to cause this kind of damage. A lightning strike anywhere in your neighborhood could cause a harmful power surge.
If you suspect that your air conditioner may have suffered lightning damage, have the system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor with experience in residential HVAC repairs. In some cases the damage can be repaired but in others an HVAC system replacement will be in order.
Air conditioning repairs for damage due to lightning strikes are usually covered by your homeowners insurance, but proving the cause of the damage can be a problem. It’s up to you to convince the insurance adjuster that the damage was caused by lightning and not some other source.
Ask your HVAC technician to show you the damage and take photographs or video of the damaged components. Damage to other household electronics is another good indication of a lightning strike. Contact your homeowner’s insurance carrier promptly and show the adjuster your documentation.
You can protect your air conditioner or heat pump from most power surges by having a surge protector installed. Talk to your HVAC technician about surge protection for your air conditioner or heat pump.