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What Are the Causes of a Power Surge?


Power surges are the silent culprits behind the somewhat unexplained damage to electronic devices often times. Has it ever happened that your laptop charger just stopped working abruptly? Or the microwave won’t switch on? Or a light bulb let out a ‘pop’ and stopped working too? That is usually the result of a power surge.

Power surges are also referred to as electrical surges, and can be easily described as the sudden spikes in electrical voltage that normally lasts for only a few seconds. However, power surges can travel through wires, cables and power outlets and damage electronics that are connected or plugged in. The damage can be anything from minimal to even requiring a replacement of the electronic or appliance altogether.

There are reasons behind what causes power surges that you must first understand in order to be able to protect your home and all the electronics within it.

What Triggers A Power Surge?

There are factors, natural and otherwise that can trigger a power surge.

  1. Lightning

Lightning strikes are dangerous wherever they strike. Not only do they cause physical damage to property or the ground where it hits, but the excessive voltage that it carries makes its way into homes through cables and wires that further can damage any electronic device or appliance that is plugged in or connected to the home wiring system. This is what causes a power surge, when the millions of volts from a lightning strike make their way to anything that is connected or plugged in.

  1. Faulty Wiring

Over the years wiring can eventually wear out, or even get damaged due to numerous reasons on its own, which can result in a power surge when a power outlet is switched on. Why is that so? It is because faulty and damaged wiring has less electrical resistance and that means any sort of conductor can trigger a power surge.

How can you tell if the wiring is faulty though? Especially when a home’s wiring is within the walls? Well, there are some signs that can hint at that, and ones that you should definitely know of because it could potentially save your home electronics and even your physical home structure from any sort of damage for that matter. For one, if you ever notice a burning odor from a power outlet while an appliance is plugged in, or even if not, that means you must get the outlet and the wiring checked by a professional and not use it till the problem has been identified and fixed. Similarly, burn marks around an outlet also indicate towards faulty wiring, as does a buzzing sound that is faint but somehow still audible.

  1. Power Breakdowns

You may notice that whenever the power comes back on after a citywide breakdown, usually it happens so that some appliances or electronics take a few seconds to function normally. Lights can suddenly get too bright, the microwave could suddenly beep even though it’s not in use – you get the picture. So why does that happen?

When there is a breakdown in the grid, it is what is referred to as a power blackout. Once the power is restored and let back into the grid, there is a release of a massive influx of voltage into the entire system, which eventually gets distributed and finds its way into our homes. The distribution however cannot be said to be equal, and this big influx can be damaging to any appliance or electronic device that is connected to the home wiring at the time.

  1. Electronic Appliances

You didn’t read that wrong. Electronic appliances themselves can trigger a power surge, especially bigger appliances like air conditioners, microwave ovens, washing machines, etc. So how does that happen? When any of the said devices are usually switched on, considering they require voltage of a higher level, it sometimes causes an abrupt and excessive inflow of electricity that could either sometimes jumpstart the appliance or device or shut it off immediately after switching on. Things like these are what can damage the device or appliance.

  1. Overloaded Outlets

Having multiple outlets in one is great, given that you can plug in your phone charger as well as your desk lamp at the same time. And the curling iron as well as the hairdryer in the bathroom too so you don’t get late for your day. Now how does an overloaded outlet cause a power surge, considering they are meant to allow multiple devices to be plugged in at the same time?

Sometimes when devices of different voltage levels are plugged in together, it can result in a sort of mismatch that can trigger a power surge. If one device requires voltage at a level that is significantly higher than that of the other device, or the entire power outlet itself, then you could expect for a surge to occur.

Now that you have a better understanding of the factors that can cause a power surge, you would probably know better on how to protect your home and all the devices within it. Surge Protectors are great devices that help ground the extra voltage from passing onto your devices. Similarly there is another alternative to protecting your devices, and that includes subscribing to Surge Coverage Plans that electrical companies provide their locals. There isn’t a final solution to put a complete stop to power surges, but there are measures that can help!

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