How to Protect Your Heating and Air Conditioning System From An Electrical Surge
Any air conditioner, furnace, boiler or HVAC system are fully computerized in today’s world. Electronic devices, like sensors, computer chips and resistors are checking data and information of each machine that is running every few minutes, and is checking the speed and temperature of operation and may even shut down a machine in case the unit is unsafe to run and can even provide reports through communication channels to HVAC companies for repair and service giving the reason for the machines failure.
Those electronic items are highly sensitive to high voltage as they all operate on low voltage 12-24 volts only while the main current starts from 110 and goes to 240 volt in residential heating and cooling systems, in commercial and industrial systems it may be even higher than that as the requirement is to heat or to cool a very large area like hotels, manufacturing facilities or medical buildings.
High voltage electric currents comes from the electric pole to the meter to a main panel breaker, from there power is split to different areas in your home or building, dividing the power according to the needs of the utilities, like light, outlet, dishwasher, washing machine, and of course your furnace, boiler or air condition, that each require a different load, in other words AMPS to run. On every machine there is a cut off switch or disconnect switch, either manual or with fuses, and every HVAC system will have a large handle next to a box that disconnects the power to the machine, right on the HVAC system, so a technician can serve the system while the power is off or in case of emergency a heating company can shut down the power to the unit immediately.
Electrical problems that damage a heating and cooling system can be divided into three main categories:
- Bad weather- especially with lightning that hurts the electric pole or transformer near you and as a result a spark and a high voltage surge is sent through the wires and the electrical panel and pops out everything on the way, including your boiler, furnace, central air unit and HVAC. It doesn’t matter if you have a small unit for a home or a large commercial unit on the roof, one surge is enough to kill your system.
- A loose connection or loose wire – A loose connection in any system will cause the system to turn on and off, sometimes a few times every second or will create sparks like ignitors between 2 connections and the next thing after the spark is a breakdown of the device, might be a contactor, a compressor or the motor that needs to be replaced or repaired.
- Loose grounding or a completely non-grounded machine – when a machine is not properly grounded, every change in the current will go to the electrical parts instead of releasing into the ground, and that of course will damage electronic and other parts in the unit.
Having a system damaged from a surge does not occur often, however, you have to make sure not to touch the system unless a certified HVAC company has investigated the problem as high voltage power might still be on. As always, we are available for any questions or advice about your HVAC systems. Have a wonderful day.
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