Central Air Conditioning Struck by Lightning

Lightning, which is caused by a natural electrical discharge, can damage electrical appliances both inside and outside the home.

Document The Damage

The best defense against lightning strikes is prevention.
During a storm, lightning can strike your central air conditioning unit. The lightning may fry the inner workings of the air conditioner causing the appliance to work improperly or causing irreversible damage. .

Document the damage done by the lightning before you assess all the damage to your air conditioner. Write down the day and time the storm occurred and note any hail or high winds that accompanied the storm. Include any information about what happen during the storm, such as the electricity going out or any odd noises you heard. Take pictures of the damaged central air conditioning unit. All of this information will help you in a claim to your insurance company.

Check The Air Conditioner

Check the thermostat to see whether the light is on and has power going to it. Set the thermostat temperature so the fan unit comes on. If the thermostat does not turn on, make sure the breaker connected to the unit is flipped to the "On" position. If the thermostat is battery powered, replace the battery with a new one. Once the fan unit starts, you should hear the condenser start up. Check the unit breaker by following the gray electric whip running to the panel and check the breakers located inside it if the fan doesn't start. Switch the breakers back on if they are in the "Off" position. If the central air conditioning unit still does not function properly, contact a heating and cooling technician.

Preventing Damage

Hiring a heating and cooling technician to install a surge suppressor may greatly lower the risk of expensive damages caused by lightning strikes or other power surges. Also, turning the air conditioner off during the storm will help prevent power surges caused by a lightning strike. However, this will not stop the lightning from striking the air conditioner unit.


Your homeowner's insurance policy may cover damage to an air conditioner caused by a storm; however, many policies only cover the damaged parts to be repaired or replaced. Sometimes the condenser, fan or motor may fail months later because of the damage it sustained during the initial lightning strike. Unfortunately, the insurance company may not pay for these repairs. Keep this in mind when the heating and cooling technician is working on the unit and ask whether he can test the other working parts.

About the Author

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.