What Is A Power Surge?

Power Surges: Causes and Tips to Protect Your Appliances

Power surges may be common occurrences, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take any precautionary measures. While they don’t always cause electrical fires, they can cause serious damage to your outlets, wiring, electronics, and appliances. Read on to get a clearer picture of what power surges are, including what causes them and the actions you can take to keep your stuff safe.

What is a power surge?

As its name suggests, a power surge is when there’s a sudden spike in the electrical current. Generally, the standard voltage level (i.e., the “push” that creates electrical currents, allowing electricity to travel) of a wall outlet in the United States is 120 volts. When the push is stronger than usual, that’s called a power surge.

If the surge is strong enough, it has the potential to destroy your electronic devices, such as your TVs, computers, stereos, and more. Even small surges can add up over time, causing your appliances to stop working altogether.

What causes a power surge?

A spike in power can arise from different sources, with some of the most common causes being:

Lightning strikes

In rare instances when lightning hits your electrical system, it can result in a significant spike in power. This surge puts any connected appliances at a greater risk of failure or worse—getting fried.

Faulty wiring

If your home was constructed long ago, there’s a good chance its wiring isn’t up to date. By now, its wires are probably worn out, making them more susceptible to power surges. A few signs of faulty wiring include discoloration near outlets, burnt odors near outlets, and a “vibrating” sound. Since it can be difficult to diagnose whether or not your home’s wiring needs updating, it’s best to contact a local electrician.

Electrical overload

An electrical overload can occur when you draw more electricity than a specific circuit can handle. A common example is overloading an extension cord by plugging in multiple appliances at a time. To prevent this, do not plug in too many appliances in one outlet, and consider rewiring if your home can’t handle your daily electrical demands.

Power outage

While a power outage itself doesn't initiate a surge, the restoration of power can. When the power comes back, the sudden surge can deliver an excess of electricity to plugged-in appliances, potentially rendering them unusable.

How to protect your appliances from power surges

Regardless of the surge's origin, appliances can become susceptible to harm due to their inability to handle massive amounts of power at once. Even the slightest spike in power can shorten your appliance’s lifespan, making it critical to practice these preventive measures:

Unplug appliances during storms

Spikes in electricity can occur when the power comes back after a power outage. To safeguard your appliances, make it a practice to unplug them during storms and other severe weather events.

Consider whole-home surge protection

Found in your fuse box, this device can detect a sudden spike in voltage. It then redirects the flow of electrical current to the ground.

Set up dedicated circuits from certain appliances

We’ve mentioned that an overload can occur when a circuit can’t handle the electrical demand. With that in mind, high-energy items should not share a circuit with other appliances, and instead, have a dedicated circuit.

Safeguard your home against power surges

Precautions such as putting in surge protectors, maintaining your home's wiring, and more can protect your appliances from harmful power surges. Carrying out these measures is a task you can entrust to the skilled team at Beeson Mechanical Service. Our experts will conduct a thorough inspection of your property to make sure it remains safe from power fluctuations, whatever the cause.

Give us a call at 317-535-9338 to safeguard your home against power surges.