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whelmed 06-11-2012 08:50 AM

Surge protection, HVAC
Hi all,

I'm new to the forum and new to home ownership as well. I live in Durham, NC area so needless to say it's pretty hot this time of year, and most everyone has their AC running. On Saturday we went out to dinner and when we returned I noticed that it felt quite hot in the house. I went to the thermostat and turned it down a bit but nothing happened. I then went outside and noticed that the breaker had been tripped so I reset it, but, the AC, nor the blower, would run.

On Sunday our HVAC person came by and it took him about 2 minutes to look at the (I might have this name wrong) circuit board or electrical board, and notice that it had been fried. In one place it was just charred, completely.

Obviously the board needs to be replaced, and I talked to him about what happened and he said that it was likely a surge - could have come from the power company, etc. So then I asked him if it was possible to prevent those surges - was there anything that I could do to protect myself from this happening again - he said that he doesn't see this too often and that really, no, there wasn't too much I could do.

My unit is '99 Comfortmaker - gas furnace and AC unit combined, and he said it's a pretty simple unit; main components being the heat exchanger (I just replaced the heat exchanger), the blower, the electrical panel and the compressor. I'm throwing this in there because in some of the research I've done I noticed that most new units are a bit more complex and sometimes include delays, which keep the unit from trying to turn back on after a power outage.

Honestly, I'm so new to all of this that I just don't know what to do - obviously I'll replace the circuit board, which is being done today - it's about a $450 repair - but should I worry that this will happen again? Our repair person is someone I trust, and he said it was likely a fluke, but like most folks I'm not in a position to handle a $450 fluke whenever the power company has a surge! Is there something I can do to reduce the risk of a surge?

Thanks very much,

clocert 06-11-2012 11:00 AM

Your tech is right, there is not much you can do. Theoretically of course you can put some sort of surge protector in there, but tell you the truth, I have never seen any one did that.

m_peterson6 06-11-2012 11:22 AM

When I installed my new furnace (York YP9C) I was worried about a surge damaging the board so I installed a SYCOM SYC 120HW in the furnace power supply and a SYCOM SYC 120/240-T2 in my houses main panel.

I am not sure how much good it is doing but it gives me some peace of mind.

beenthere 06-11-2012 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by m_peterson6 (Post 940927)

I am not sure how much good it is doing but it gives me some peace of mind.

Then its doing a lot of good. can't have comfort without piece mind.

gregzoll 06-11-2012 06:24 PM

Even if you install a Whole house surge protector, it is only as good as the earth ground, and the rest of the electrical system, but the catch is, that it will not protect from a direct strike, that is what your Home Owner's Insurance is for.

whelmed 06-12-2012 08:51 AM

Thanks very much for your responses. It sounds like my repair tech. had the right idea; I just worried that every time a surge happened, which seems like something I can't prevent, I'd blow another circuit board!

Peace of mind is definitely worth a lot, but if installing a whole house surge protector isn't going to do a lot, I'll cross my fingers instead!

Thanks again.

Yoyizit 06-12-2012 04:03 PM

Except for lightning, a high voltage/short duration surge likely does not contain enough energy to char anything, but it could have caused a component to short which then caused heavy current to flow. I'd think charring a circuit board like this takes a pretty big dump of energy.

AirstarFilters 06-14-2012 03:21 PM

Look into voltage monitors, ICM491 or ICM492

rightit 06-15-2012 07:52 PM

If by '99 you mean 1999, you could ask the tech to eliminate the circuit board, replacing it with old school (and cheap) parts. It's not rocket science, but it would need to be done by someone who knows what they're doing. It shouldn't take much longer than replacing the board. $450 sounds a bit high to replace a board.

beenthere 06-15-2012 08:34 PM

A circuit board that controls both the A/c and gas heat in a package unit is not easily or cheaply replaced by other relays and components.

rightit 06-15-2012 09:13 PM


Originally Posted by beenthere (Post 944311)
A circuit board that controls both the A/c and gas heat in a package unit is not easily or cheaply replaced by other relays and components.

Yes, gas heat does complicate matters a bit. Thanks for the remarks.

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