What to do When Lightning Strikes Your Appliances

What to do When Lightning Strikes Your Appliances

Western North Carolina features some of the most pleasant weather in North Carolina and the Southeast in general. We experience all four seasons in Asheville and Hendersonville, with temperatures rarely exceeded 90-degrees, dipping below freezing an average of 70 times per year. The terrain makes the formation of tornadoes unlikely; however, thunderstorms develop often and can still pack a punch from torrential, hail, and gusty winds.

 

Though it is possible to experience thunderstorms at any time of year, they are most common in spring and summer, sometimes feeling like a daily occurrence when it is especially humid. The most dangerous feature of mountain storms is the potential for flash flooding; however, cloud-to-ground lightning can pose a major threat to lives and property. North Carolina ranks in the top three for lightning fatalities since 1959. 

Local meteorologists will attest that while some systems provide several-days’ notice of the potential for violent storms in our area; however, during the summer months, humidity-fueled storms can pop up with seemingly no warning. When the skies darken and thunder rumbles, it is vital for you and your family to get indoors, hunker down, and wait for the storms to pass. Even if you are safe inside, your appliances are still susceptible to damage from lightning strikes. In this post, we will discuss the dangers of lightning and your appliances, and what to do if they are hit. 

How Lightning Can Damage Your Appliances

Lightning can cause damage to electronics in your home one of two ways, either a direct hit to your house or an indirect strike nearby. 

A Direct Hit: In the unlikely but possible event lightning strikes your home, your electronics and appliances will almost certainly be damaged. In addition to the potential for damage to your roof, chimneys, and windows, if lightning strikes your home directly it could cause a structural or electrical fire within your home’s wiring. Surge protectors are unlikely to protect against a direct lightning strike. 

An Indirect Hit: Far more common, an indirect hit occurs when lightning strikes nearby and then travels through electrical wires, phone lines, water pipes, and other conductors into your home, potentially resulting in a significant surge that can damage appliances and electronics – even those plugged into surge protectors. 

It is not a myth that lightning can find its way into your home through outside sources. It can be a good idea to unplug devices when a storm is approaching; however, this should be done before you hear thunder. You can be injured by a surge that occurs while you are holding the attached cord. 

*Side note, it is not safe to take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm, because lightning can travel through pipes and water is a conductor of electricity.*

Large appliances are often especially susceptible to damage because they are rarely plugged into a surge proctor meant to withstand a lightning strike. Furthermore, you generally don’t want to unplug your refrigerator or freezer for any reason.

How to Know if Your Appliances are Struck

In the event your house receives an indirect lightning strike, you may not know. Signs your appliances are damaged include:

  • A surge that trips your breakers
  • Appliances do not turn on, or their digital displays are reading strangely 
  • Burn marks near outlets or cords
  • Strange noises or odors
  • Tripping the breaker when engaged
  • Underperforming

If you saw a flash or know there was a thunderstorm induced an electrical surge in your home, it is a good idea to check outlets and appliances for signs of damage. As long as it is safe, unplug any damaged appliances and contact us. If you suspect fire in your home, contact emergency services immediately. 

What to do if Your Appliances are Struck

Lightning strikes are often covered by homeowner’s insurance; however, it can be difficult to prove an indirect strike caused the damage to your appliances and electronics. Document everything and take several photos and videos to help make your case. 

If your appliances have been damaged by lightning, contact the professional appliance repair technicians at Appliance Pro Unlimited. We can perform a thorough diagnosis and will determine whether we should repair or replace your unit.