Power Outages in Stockton: How Does Losing Power Affect Your Heating and Cooling Systems?

Stockton power outageThis summer Sacramento saw a pretty major power outage due to a vehicle accident, but other causes of power loss are common all year round in this and nearby areas.[1. https://www.kcra.com/news/power-outage-hits-16000-customers-in-sacramento/34388218] Weather is a big cause, and with El Nino and winter storms on the way, we here at Bell Brothers expect loss of service at least a few times. And loss of power is a serious issue, no matter what the cause.

More Than Just the Lights Off

Let’s say a power outage occurs. The lights go off, the surge protectors beep, and if it’s dark we start breaking out the flashlights and candles. But a lot turns off besides what we can see or hear; for example, computers that aren’t battery-backed up or surge protected will shut off, taking any data with them. People plan for that by using the cloud to protect their information, and there are ways to “backup” other systems in the house–even your HVAC system.

No matter what kind of  HVAC system you have, at least part of it is run on electricity. Even if you have a gas heater, your air conditioning will use electricity, as well any other devices you have “hooked up to the grid” (like heat pumps). When the power goes off, so do these devices. You could be left without air conditioning, heat, or ventilation, possibly for days (although that’s unlikely).

In the warm summer months, so many people use AC that in many places that extra strain alone can cause the grid to go down. We didn’t see that ourselves this summer, but they tell us we have a record nasty winter on the way, so it’s a good idea to have a plan for when the power goes out.  

What to Do in a Stockton Power Outage

The first thing to do is turn on any backup power you may have. There are many places where no power isn’t an option, and many businesses and homeowners have backup power generators that run on gasoline or diesel in case a loss of power occurs. In fact, depending on the location and the type of work that goes on, many of these generators are required by the government.  They’re also common for homeowners in more rural areas.

If you don’t have backup power you’ll want to turn off your HVAC system at the thermostat. This will stop the system from attempting to “jump” back when the power comes back, which can lead to strain on the system itself and even prevent it from starting correctly. You may also want to turn off power at your breaker to prevent power surges to your HVAC and other systems; when the power comes back a surge can cause massive damage to electrical devices that are plugged in. Unplugging is also a good option, but may not be easy in the case of HVAC devices.

Call your utilities provider and try to determine when service will be restored, as well as the cause of power loss if possible. Once the power comes back on, you may need to reset your circuit breaker. You’ll want to keep the HVAC system off at the thermostat while you do that, and then wait at least twenty minutes before activating it. Many HVAC systems have an internal circuit breaker that can be triggered during an outage; this takes time to reset and will not do so if the device is turned on at the thermostat.

If your system isn’t working after power has been restored, it’s a good idea to have a professional come take a look. The system may need service, and could have possibly been damaged in the power outage or when power returned.

An Ounce of Prevention

Power outages are frustrating, but you’re not entirely at the whim of fate and the utility company. Keep in mind that during times of peak use or system stress (like hot summer days or massive winter storms) the power is more likely to go out and stay out longer, so plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to have a plan for your house if the grid goes down for a few hours or even days, and the HVAC system needs to be part of your plan.

You can also protect the system itself with a surge protector, much like your computer and other electronic devices. This will prevent damage from occurring during an outage or return of power, drastically reducing the chances of damage to your HVAC. And while you can’t download your system to the cloud, you can find a reputable company like Bell Brothers that will keep excellent records of your system’s maintenance and repair. That way, sun or rain, if the system goes down, we’ll know what to do.