5 Causes of Power Surges and How to Rectify Them
6564 views | March 11, 2021

5 Causes of Power Surges and How to Rectify Them

Most electrical power surges occur in the home without the homeowner even noticing. These short term 'spikes' in voltage, measured in microseconds, disrupt the homes' electricity. The surge may be brief and the voltage spike less severe, but it can still damage, degrade, or destroy electronic equipment inside the home.1

Laptops, chargers, hairdryers, air conditioners, refrigerators, TVs, and even lights, are home appliances and electrical devices that are all expensive items. The goal is to prevent those items from being damaged in any way. And if there are smart appliances around the house, that's a more significant cause of concern. Electrical surges can damage these costly smart devices to the extent of having to replace them.

5 Power Surge Causes and Prevention Tips.

1. Wiring

Damaged or exposed wiring can result in frequent power surges. Sometimes they can occur multiple times in a day, risking damage to home appliances and electronic devices, including outlets and switches.

Internal power surges can go unnoticed, but there are some tell-tale signs. The most common ones are a burning smell and warm outlets. However, one must be careful because ignoring these problems for too long can result in harmful damages, including short-circuiting.

2. Lightning

Lightning can have drastic effects when it strikes; it can cause fires and power outages, and even blackouts. An electrical surge from a lightning strike can ruin electronics and appliances around the house. The damage occurs because the voltage spike is so high that home appliances like TVs, chargers, microwaves, or anything plugged in or connected to the main electric panel cannot withstand the electrical voltage intensity. Even plugged-in but switched off devices can suffer the same consequences.

3. External Factors

External factors that can cause an electric surge include weather conditions, trees, and animals. Extreme weather conditions, such as snowstorms, thunderstorms and sweltering temperatures, can result in power surges.

Tree limbs can also cause power surges. Sometimes, the tree branches touch the power lines - can cause an electrical surge. It may not be as damaging as other causes, but enough electrical surges can damage home appliances over time. Keeping this in mind, trimming trees would be better left to professional services; never try to remove a broken tree limb from a power line.2

Animals, too, can cause power surges. Wild animals such as squirrels, birds, and even snakes in some regions can be the culprits. Small animals can make their way into transformers or even nibble away at cable, exposing the wiring inside which can result in dangerous effects like short-circuiting.

4. Overload

Quite often, office buildings face short-term power outages, some that last for just a few seconds. It is usually the case with commercial buildings where an electrical overload can momentarily trip the circuit. The overload occurs because of the systems' sizes in commercial buildings, like elevators or multiple air-conditioning units. Imagine an office building and the number of appliances and devices that may overload the electrical network.

Overloading can also occur in residential homes; some appliances consume more electricity than others, for instance, refrigerators, hairdryers, blenders, etc. When there is a sudden spike in electricity use, it can cause a surge and damage the appliance.3

5. Momentary Outages

As stated, even momentary outages can result in electrical surges. When frequently occurring, these hiccups to the electrical flow can trip the circuit or cause a sudden electricity burst. Either way, it can damage electrical equipment. Momentary outages are usually the result of external factors rather than internal ones.

What Can Be Done To Protect Your Home From A Power Surge?

A power surge can damage home appliances and other devices around the house, resulting in a costly accident.

Homeowners can take measures to protect expensive devices from the damage caused by an electrical surge. Complete protection from power surges is hard to achieve, but there are proactive steps homeowners can implement to protect valuable appliances.

Electrical Surge Coverage Plan

An Electrical Surge Coverage Plan can protect valuable devices. Most coverage plans include a monthly fee covering the cost of repairs and replacement for most household appliances, including personal devices. Surge coverage is the best way to save money on future repairs and replacements and get valuable home devices covered.

Regular Maintenance

Frequent power surges can affect the homes' wiring. It can sometimes leave electronic rust, causing the wires to wear out faster. There are many reasons to get yearly maintenance checks on home wiring and electric systems. A regular maintenance check can quickly fix minor issues and help prevent power surges.

Make it a Habit to Unplug Devices

A common misconception is that there is no electricity flowing if a power outlet is switched off. However, even when switched off and a device is plugged into the outlet, an electrical surge can affect the device.

It’s a good habit to unplug unused appliances and devices that aren't running 24/7. Taking this step will help prevent possible damage and save homeowners from costly repairs or replacements.

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1NEMA Surge Protection Institute. What are Surges. Retrieved from https://www.nemasurge.org/history/
2Edison International. Powerful winter storm brings heavy rain, snow. Retrieved from https://energized.edison.com/stories/powerful-winter-storm-brings-heavy-rain-snow
3Marionks.net. 5 Causes of Power Surges and How to Protect Your Property. Retrieved from http://marionks.net/docs/Surge_Protection/SurgeCauses.pdf