Whether it happens momentarily or goes on for hours, a power outage can be an annoying and frustrating occurrence. When you don’t have power, your appliances and equipment are rendered useless. In addition to severe weather, some of the common causes of power outages in the area include wildlife, trees, motor vehicle mishaps and other accidents that affect the power grid.
Only when the power is restored that we breathe a sigh of relief. We feel grateful to see the lights come back on, and our power is restored. More importantly, you get to use all of your electronic items and equipment that are essential for daily living and work. The biggest concern, however, involves your HVAC system. You try to turn it back on, but it won’t power back up. You may be wondering if it is gone for good. What should you do next? Should you call a heating and air condition repair technician? Continue reading to learn how to deal with this predicament.
About Power Outages and Power Surges
To better understand why an HVAC system doesn’t turn on even when the power comes back, we have to bring to light another occurrence associated with power outages – power surges. When there’s no electricity available in your home, that’s a power outage. More often than not, it is an issue with the equipment owned by the electric utility company. When this happens, there’s no other recourse but to wait for the linemen to fix the problem or use a backup power supply.
A power surge, meanwhile, refers to a massive spike in your electrical system’s current. It can originate from the electric utility company during power grid switching or a malfunction in a nearby transformer or transmission line. A more powerful surge of current to a home or building can also occur during a lightning strike.
How a Power Surge Impacts Your HVAC System
Suppose a storm or a power grid failure occurred in your area and the power goes out as expected. Once power is restored, and you plug your HVAC system or any appliance into the nearest power outlet, a boost in voltage above its normal operating voltage causes an electrical arc within it. This refers to the electrical current that jumps a gap in the circuit. The heat generated by this arc can cause damage to the unit’s circuit boards and other electrical components.
A major power surge, especially one caused by a lightning strike, can result in immediate and permanent damage to your equipment. Smaller surges, which happen when your heating or cooling system cycles on, can also cause damage, albeit in tiny increments. This is a huge deal because these can shorten the lifespan of your appliance.
Restarting Your HVAC After a Power Outage
When the power goes out all of a sudden, you have to make sure your HVAC system and other appliances and electronics are protected from potential power surges that might occur once power is restored. The following are the important steps you need to keep in mind:
- Switch Thermostat to “Off”
Set your thermostat to “off” right away. In doing so, you prevent your HVAC system from “kicking on” again once power is restored.
- Reset the Breaker
Once the power is back, you must reset the circuit breaker located in your laundry room or basement. Look for the switch that is standing in the neutral position, which indicates that it is neither “on” nor “off”. Flip the switch to the “off” position first before doing it again, this time to the “on” position. After doing so, wait for at least 30 minutes. This will give your HVAC system some time to reset its internal circuit breaker.
- Turn on the Thermostat
After the 30-minute waiting time, it’s time to turn the thermostat back on again. If you need cooling, for instance, just set it back to “cool”; the HVAC equipment will kick back on. See to it that the temperature setting is correct.
If everything is working normally, you most likely will escape any damage caused by a power outage. But what if the thermostat isn’t turning on after the power is restored? If it is battery-powered, be sure to replace the batteries with new ones. Otherwise, remove the front panel, and check if any fuse is blown or not. Replace one or both of them right away.
Protecting Your HVAC System From Power Surges
You can’t control whatever happens outside your home, but you can protect what’s on the inside. In the event of a power surge following a power outage, it is good to have one or more of the following:
- Surge Protector
Investing in a surge protector, also known as a surge suppressor or surge diverter, can help protect your home from damage caused by power surges. It diverts excess voltage safely to the ground rather than allowing it to enter the electrical components inside your electrical appliances and equipment like your HVAC system. Different types of surge protectors are available, from power strips with surge protection to whole-house, panel-mounted varieties. Your choice will depend on your budget and how you’re going to use the device.
- Hard Start Kit
When your HVAC system is struggling to turn on, a hard start kit can come in handy. It is a type of capacitor that doesn’t come standard in most heating and cooling units. In case you need one, an air condition service technician can help you install one for your system.
- Upgraded Contactor
A contactor is a small device that controls the flow of electricity to one of your air conditioner’s components. Most standard contactors, however, can’t monitor the amount of power going into the system. Upgrading it will stop the unit automatically from trying to turn on if there’s not enough power.
Trying to fix an electrical problem on your HVAC system on your own isn’t recommended. Unless you are confident with handling wires and other circuits, it is in your best interest to leave this kind of work to the professionals. At EZ Air Conditioning and Heating, our certified technicians can repair a wide range of HVAC issues, including faulty fuses or circuit breakers, malfunctioning thermostats and damaged electrical connections.
We are always available to answer any heating and air conditioning repair challenge with prompt, affordable and effective services. Call (210) 429-9186, or fill out our contact form to request a free estimate. To schedule a service appointment, you can use this convenient self-service scheduler.