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Can A Power Outage Damage an Air Conditioner?

Cassie Pound, owner of Quality Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric
Published by
Cassie Pound
May 10, 2023
Can A Power Outage Damage an Air Conditioner?

Are you wondering, “Can a power outage damage an air conditioner?” The answer is yes! However, you can take steps to avoid damaging your AC before, during, and after a power outage.

Was your air conditioner damaged during a power outage? Quality Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing is the best choice for AC repair professionals in Tulsa, OK

AC repair professionals in Tulsa, OK

A Power Outage vs. A Surge

Both a power outage and a power surge can damage your air conditioner, though a surge is worse.

A power outage means there is no power available. The utility company is usually responsible for a power outage.

A power surge means the flow of electricity is too great for your electronics to handle. It can cause a power outage, or it can occur as the power comes back on after an outage.

While a power outage can damage your air conditioner, most damage occurs as the power surges back on. To fully protect your unit, you need to guard against both outages and surges.

What Damage Can Occur

Your air conditioner is filled with small parts, all of which are vulnerable to damage from storms, overheating, and electrical surges. Without proper protection, power outages and surges damage these internal components and cause huge problems. 

Compressor Failure

The greatest risk to your compressor is from a surge of lightning during a storm. Outages caused by the electrical grid’s failure pose less risk. 

However, if the air conditioner is running when an outage hits, the compressor can overheat. Without power, your AC unit can’t cycle on and off, causing overheating. A failed compressor requires repair or might even require a complete air conditioner replacement.

Programming Failure

A power outage can cause your air conditioner to reset itself. Modern air conditioners use advanced technology and have many parts that resemble a computer. When power fluctuates, the air conditioner may return to its factory settings.

Your manual contains all the information to reprogram the air conditioner, but a professional can save you the headache and reprogram the unit quickly.

Cooling Process Malfunction

Most air conditioners have a three-stage cooling process. A power outage can knock out any of the stages. Fortunately, you can fix this one easily, as the system should warm up and fix itself within 24 hours. If the unit still doesn’t work after a day, call a professional to diagnose the problem.

Other System Failures

There are several other areas where your unit can fail, both within the air conditioner and throughout your HVAC system:

  • Blower motors are responsible for powering the fan that blows air through your whole HVAC system. When the blower motor fails, your unit can’t blow the air.
  • The variable speed motor controls what speed your air conditioner runs based on your needs. Because it prevents your AC from running more powerfully than needed, it saves you energy. A power surge can cause a complete failure of the motor.
  • A power surge can trip your circuit boards. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Once the outage is over, reboot the circuit breaker to make sure you fixed the problem.

Sometimes, only a certified air conditioner technician can identify the problem. Always call a professional to diagnose issues with your air conditioner.

Protecting Your Air Conditioner

“Can a power outage damage an air conditioner?” Yes! Use the following steps to prevent outages and surges from damaging your AC unit.

Invest in Surge Protection

A surge protector for your AC unit is bigger than your household power strips. You can install versions that protect your entire HVAC system or ones that protect only your air conditioner.

The best step you can take to protect your unit is to install a surge protector. While you’ll need to pay the cost upfront, it saves you the expense of repairing or replacing your unit in the future.

Turn it Off in a Storm

Storms are the most dangerous time for your air conditioner. During severe weather, lightning can strike your home, causing an expensive power surge and destroying your air conditioner.

Flooding is also a risk. If your outlet or power source becomes submerged, your air conditioner will suffer catastrophic damage. If you see any risk of flooding, unplug your unit. You can also turn off the system from the thermostat to protect the entire HVAC system from kicking in.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Make sure you maintain your air conditioner to extend its life and decrease its vulnerabilities to surges and outages.

How frequently should you schedule maintenance? Air conditioning technicians should inspect your unit once or twice a year to ensure everything is working properly. If you just experienced severe weather, you might want to schedule an extra checkup just to be safe.

Maintain Your Electrical System

If your electrical system is out of date, you may experience frequent power surges and put all your appliances at risk. Power surges should be rare. If you have a problem with frequent power surges, call an electrician to examine the wiring in your house.

After the Outage

After the outage, make sure you follow these steps to properly restart your air conditioner: 

  • If the unit shut off abruptly, leave it off for a while after the power returns. Go to the circuit breaker and shut off the entire HVAC system.
  • Wait five minutes, then turn everything back on.
  • If everything works well, you successfully reset your air conditioner.
  • If the storm was especially bad or the outage was long, you may want to call a professional for maintenance to ensure nothing is wrong.
  • If your air conditioner doesn’t turn on, it likely suffered damage. Call a repair professional to diagnose and fix the problem.

Call Quality Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing for All Your AC Needs

Now you know the answer to, “Can a power outage damage an air conditioner?” Whether it’s a broken ac compressor or regular maintenance, the professionals at Quality Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing can service all your AC needs.

Call us at 918-276-7151 to speak with a certified professional and get your air conditioner back in top shape.

Cassie Pound, owner of Quality Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric
Published by
Cassie Pound

Cassie Pound is the Vice President of Quality Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electric with locations in Tulsa, Glenpool, and Bartlesville, Oklahoma.