Although electricity is one of the most necessary power sources for a household or business, it comes with its own drawbacks. On the bright side, most of these can be avoided—particularly electrical surges, better known as power surges. This type of occurrence can wreak havoc on your appliances and lighting. So, learning more about what causes them, how to avoid them, and when to call an electrician can help protect your home and your devices.
What is a Power Surge?
Power surges occur when there is a sudden burst of electrical energy. The average voltage level for a home goes from 110 to 220 volts, but when the voltage that runs through the wiring is higher than normal, you have a power surge. They range from relatively small increases in power to larger ones. Either way, they damage your plugged-in appliances.
What causes a power surge in your house?
Power surges are brought on by different factors, from natural causes to damaged power lines.
1- Electrical Overload-
An electrical overload results from too many devices using a single circuit as their primary power source. This situation leads to a power surge when the circuit receives a rush of current due to the amount of power being drawn from it. Consequently, there’s a spike in voltage followed by a power surge.
2- Faulty Wiring
Another common cause is faulty wiring. This situation is hard to detect since the wiring is not visible. However, when your wires are frayed or exposed, you may experience a power surge. Likewise, you need to be on the lookout for other signs, such as a buzzing noise when lights or appliances are turned on, a burning odour, and burn marks on outlets. If you observe any of these signs, you need to call an electrician immediately. This situation poses a fire hazard and should be addressed right away.
Storms trigger power surges when lightning strikes the power lines—thus sending a massive amount of electrical current through them and straight into your home’s system. This creates a tremendous spike in voltage, which in turn causes a significant power surge.
4- Power Outage/Blackout-
While the power outage (also known as a blackout) does not directly cause power surges, it is a contributing factor. When the power grid is repaired and back in operation, the sudden surge in electricity that happens right at that second can damage your devices that don’t have surge protectors.
What are the signs of a power surge?
There are several signs to watch out for that may indicate a power surge is coming, and knowing them will help you determine when you should call an electrician for assistance.
Signs of a pending power surge include:
Burning smells or smoke coming from outlets
Warm or vibrating outlets
Discolored areas that surround wires and outlets
Some signs that a power surge has already happened include:
Fortunately, power surges are avoidable for the most part. To protect your devices, try taking these measures.
1- Unplug everything during a storm
If you see a storm approaching, you should unplug all gadgets and appliances. It is the only way to protect your appliances from damage caused by power surges.
2- Power strips with surge protection
You can also purchase power strips with surge protection. It turns off the power automatically during a storm or when there are power fluctuations. This option is especially effective when protecting your TVs, computers, and phones.
3- Consider installing a whole home surge protector
If you want to go beyond power strips and protect all devices and appliances that must stay plugged in 24/7 (like your refrigerator), you can hire an electrician to install a whole-home surge protector. Because a whole-house surge protector must be hard-wired to your electrical box, the job would require the help of a professional.
4- Have an electrician evaluate your wiring
It is important to have your wiring inspected by a certified electrician if you live in an older house. A professional can also recommend any additional updates to keep your home safe.
5- Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors (TVSS)
Yet another wise investment in electrical surge protection and home safety is a transient voltage surge suppressor. These devices are used in power distribution panels, communication systems, and process control systems in the industrial sector. Like the home surge protector, they are installed directly in the electrical box.
Are you ready to take the next step in protecting your home from power surges? Then contact Salter Electric, the power surge specialist. We specialize in electrical system upgrades and repairs—including the installation of TVSS. We inspect your home’s electrical system and provide a free consultation.