What Causes Power Surges: Your Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Prevention
Imagine this: You stay cooped inside the house, what with all the racket those heavy rains and stormy winds make. The warmth of your space heater against the cold envelopes you.
Suddenly, everything goes dark - the power is out!
A shocked or panicked shout is most likely your initial reaction. Followed by chills due to the lack of heat.
That power outage? It can result from a power surge, which is no doubt one of the most annoying, inconveniencing experiences you can ever have. But what causes power surges though? And how can you prevent them from happening again?
Don't worry. We got your back. We'll tell you the most important stuff you need to know about power surge causes, so make sure you keep reading.
What a Power Surge Is
What is a power surge in the first place?
It refers to an abnormal high-voltage level that occurs within a short period of time. In many cases, it's a voltage oversupply (such as from a main supply) that happens for only a few microseconds.
The problem is, despite it taking place for say, only 50 microseconds, the high-voltage level can reach electricity-powered equipment at a whopping 6,000 volts.
This kind of power is something that can fry anything in its way. It's also because of this that you need to protect your home - and its contents - from power surges.
In other words, you have to treat these electricity-related occurrences as a big concern. For starters, because a large power surge can destroy anything in your house containing microprocessors. Think televisions, computers, washing machines, and dishwashers among many others.
The good news is, these large-level surges don't happen a lot. However, there are still the low-level kind you need to worry about.
These ones won't melt the internal parts of your valuables, but they can still lead to electronic rust. This kind of damage happens gradually. You won't even know this is happening until your appliances' internal circuitry has degraded so much you end up with a broken machine.
That's not all though. Aside from ruining home appliances and gadgets; they can also cause house fires.
That's right. Combined with faulty electrical wiring, a power surge can lead to life-threatening fires.
That's why it's best you know what can bring about an electrical power surge. This way, you can prepare for themand protect everyone and everything in your house.
What Causes Power Surges Then?
There are quite a lot of culprits behind power surges in a house, from natural environmental factors to pesky little creatures. Here's a look at some of the most common:
1. Mother Nature
You most likely thought of lightning as one of the power surge causes. You're right about that.
The worst part is, a bolt of lightning doesn't even have to strike the power line supplying electricity to your house for it to cause an electrical voltage spike. Even if it only hits an area near the line, it can already raise the voltage a million notches.
Plugged but unprotected electrical devices (AKA no power surge protector), like lamps, computers, and televisions have little to no chance of making it through severe thunderstorms.
Until you have a surge protector installed, it's best you power down everything and unplug them from the wall in case of massive thunderstorms. This way, you can limit the power surge damage likely to occur.
2. Messed Up Wiring
Not only do they steal your food - they can also cause fire hazards in your home! We're talking about none other than rodents, including mice, rats, and squirrels.
These pesky creatures can chew on and mess up the wires of your home's electrical system. When this happens, they leave the wires exposed, which then disrupts the flow of electricity. This increases the odds of power surges occurring.
A sign telling you this has happened (and one you shouldn't ignore) is the smell of rubber burning. Don't attempt to try handling this on your own, as they can lead to electrocution. The best way to deal with this is to have a professional electrician assess and carry out the necessary repairs.
3. Modern High-Voltage Electrical Devices Combined with a Dated Electrical System
If you live in an old house, chances are, you also have a dated electrical system. It may not have the capability to supply high amounts of electricity to multiple high-powered devices.
So, when you use high-energy-consuming devices - such as air conditioners and shower heaters - with it, you can end up experiencing power surges.
That's because these appliances draw massive amounts of electricity. As such, when they power on, excess electricity flows throughout the circuit. This can then overpower the other electronics drawing power from the system too.
You can tell that a power surge happens when the lights suddenly flicker or even turn off for a bit as soon as you also turn on the AC or the hot shower.
4. Too Many Appliances Running at the Same Time
In other words, overloaded outlets or circuits. Plugging in too many electronics in one outlet (even the low-power ones) can cause disturbances in the flow of electricity. A power surge is most likely to follow.
Note though that an overloaded outlet or circuit won't only cause annoying power surges - it can also cause electrical fires. Especially if you still run on an old electrical system.
Don't Wait Until It's Too Late to Protect Your Home from Power Surges
Whether you have an old electrical system or a modern one, you can still experience a power surge. The good thing is, there's a safe fix to what causes power surges: a whole home surge protector.
This is one of the best ways you can safeguard your home - and of course, your loved ones - from the dangers that power surges can bring.
Also, feel free to check out our other electrical safety tips! We have more nuggets of wisdom to share with you on how you can make your home a safer, more comfortable abode.