What Is A Power Surge? | Electrician Explains Power Surges


What Is A Power Surge?

A power surge is a sudden spike in voltage in your electricity supply, which can be caused by a number of factors which we will investigate below. A power surge can be caused by both internal and external factors. A power surge is usually brief, but can have a negative effect on appliances and your internal electrical system, even causing electrical fires.

What Causes Power Surges?

There are both internal and external causes for electrical power surges in your residential or commercial property. Internal electric surges are more common, but external ones can be the most damaging. You need to protect your property from both which is why you need to hire an experienced electrical contractor to inspect your home and business.

Overloaded Circuits

This is a common theme for causing power surges. People are generally not aware that there are some appliances in their home that should have their own dedicated circuits. Major electrical appliances like your refrigerator, freezer, washer/dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, air conditioner, and microwave are a few that should have their own in order to not overload the circuit. If these electrical appliances were sharing the same circuit it would trip the breaker, which would stop the flow of electricity as a safety precaution. But if you keep on overloading it the breakers trip switch will wear down and fail, which will more than likely cause an electrical fire. If you’re unsure if major appliances are sharing circuits you should call a quality electrician to inspect the property.

Overloaded Outlets

Very similar to overloading circuits were the designated amount of electrical current that is supposed to normally flow from an outlet is hooked up to more appliances than it is capable of. Using too many extension cords, multiple plug adaptors, or appliances that draw high amps running at the same time can cause an outlet overload. The circuit breaker will trip or the fuse will blow which will prevent an electrical fire from happening. But as in the above paragraph these safety precaution devices will wear down, leaving you and your property exposed to the dangers.

Lightning Strikes

This is an external factor that can cause an electrical power surge in your home. As we all know living in Florida, witnessing lightning strikes is a common occurrence. Florida gets hit with 3,500 lightning strikes a day! So if one of them hits the power line connected to your home an electrical power surge will happen. These can be extreme power surges resulting in appliances being exposed to a very high amp count, possibly destroying them. That is why during a storm we would advise to unplug any expensive equipment that you might have, especially if you don’t have a power surge protector installed.

Damaged Electrical Wires

Damaged wires can result in electricity being interrupted and then immediately re-established which is one of the main internal causes of electrical power surges. Damaged wires or “flying splices” as we have mentioned in our previous electrical safety post can happen through a couple of ways. The first is due to bad electrical installations were the wires are exposed to the natural elements, not stored away in a junction box and can be worn down. A more common cause of electric wire damage is to do with pest control. The common household rodents like rats and mice love to find warm and secluded spots in your home, and will eat almost anything, including the PVC that is used to coat the electrical wires. But rodents aren’t the only problem. Pharaoh Ants are attracted to the internal electrical systems of your building because it is warm and they can sense the magnetic fields that surround it. They will look to nest in junction boxes, electrical outlets, and in the wiring. As with any ant infestation they will leave behind a mess including carcasses of fallen comrades, feces, and residue, which can have an effect on the already exposed wire, comprising the electrical safety. If an ant gets electrocuted it will secrete a pheromone that will attract other ants to the exposed wire, resulting in a pile up of ant carcasses. If this is the suspected problem we would recommend first getting a pest control company to inspect the property, and any rodent or insect infestation should be cleared first before hiring an electrician to clean up the electrical system.

Power Outages

As we have mentioned in the previous paragraph, having an electrical current interrupted and then immediately re-established can cause a power surge. This can be especially true if the re-establishment is intended for a greater region. If you can imagine the power it takes to restart a connection to an entire town, city, or region, you can imagine how this would have a negative effect on the appliances connected to your electrical system.

How To Prevent Power Surges Damaging Your Property

There are methods to preventing the damage of your property or appliances when it comes to power surges. External power surges are just a way of life, you will not be able to stop them once you are linked to the local electrical grid. So here are a few things you should be doing:

Install A Whole Home Surge Arrester

You will need a quality electrician to install one of these, but this device will protect your home from unwanted power surges by regulating and making sure that the electricity is controlled, and flowing at a steady and efficient rate. It is linked directly to the electrical panel and protects all electric circuits in your home. This is more expensive than installing power surge protectors at every outlet, but it is less hassle and safer, in the long run, provided a qualified electrician would install it.

Install Power Surge Protectors

These look like extension adaptors but they have a built-in mechanism that will reduce the impact an electric power surge will have on the appliances connected to your outlets. Surge protectors are added protection and we would recommend them in addition to the whole home search arrester mentioned above. It is because the whole home search arrester will not protect you from internal power surges, as they may not flow through the main electrical panel.

Install Solar Panels With A Generator

We have mentioned this in previous articles but you can be unlinked from the local electrical grid by installing solar panels and generating and storing your own electricity. Of course, you can still be linked to the grid, and along with getting refunded for supplying your surplus energy back to the electric company (and getting paid for it), you can be immune to power outages and their corresponding power surges.

Hiring A Clearwater Electrician To Protect Your Home

Power surges and the damages that can occur from them are a serious matter. We never take our customers safety for granted, and always stress the importance of consulting with a professional when it comes to electrical safety advice. If you have noticed lights flickering, fuses blown, blackened outlets, or odd noises from your electrical panel you need to call us immediately. We will come out and inspect your property and make sure that you and your family or employees are safe. We will give you recommendations of what you should do, and would be happy to provide our services. East-West Electric has been providing the residents of Pinellas County with top quality electrical services for over 30 years. Call us today on (727) 771-9403, or submit an online contact form.

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