Chances are if you're reading this blog, you're concerned that your home has just experienced a power surge. But what even is a power surge? Is it something you can prevent? Will your electronic items ever be completely safe? Here's what you need to know.
What is a Power Surge?
Put simply, a power surge is an unexpected increase in voltage. When strong enough, these fluctuations in voltage may cause damage to your electronic devices and appliances, like air conditioners, televisions, computers, microwaves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and more. Thankfully, an electrician can offer you a solution to this problem in the form of whole-home surge protection.
What Can Cause a Power Surge?
There are many different causes of power surges. Some power surges are internal and occur when motorized devices or large or small electronics start up or shut off and use more voltage than your circuits can handle. External power surges stem from outside your home and can be caused by things like lightning strikes or a tree limb making contact with a power line. Whether internal or external, a power surge can wreak havoc, causing problems like loss of valuable computer data or permanent damage to expensive electronic devices and appliances.
How to Tell If You Had a Power Surge
If your home has experienced a power surge, the first thing to do is not panic. Power surges are very common and often don't cause any damage. However, a large power surge, such as a lightning strike, can destroy circuits and wiring in an instant.
Signs of a power surge include:
- Your electronic devices and/or appliances are powered off and/or not working
- Digital clocks throughout your home will be flashing
- Surge protectors & power strips may need resetting
- A burnt odor around your electronic devices and their power sources
Take these steps after a power surge:
- Reset and repower. Reset and unplug all electronic devices before resetting your circuit breakers, if the surge has caused a power outage. Once you have unplugged your devices and appliances, reset the circuit breaker.
- Assess your home. Assess your home for any damages by going through your home and inspecting all of your appliances and electronics. Turn your devices on and off one at a time to see if they are still functioning.
- Check your HVAC system. Reset your HVAC unit or have a professional come by and inspect the unit for any electrical damage. Resetting your HVAC unit should be done according to the manufacturer's specifications. If you don't have your owners manual, let a professional reset the system or call the manufacturer for instructions on resetting.
How to Protect Your Home from Power Surge Damage
When it comes to things like lightning strikes or a power surge caused by an external source, there's not much you can do to prevent the power surge, but it is possible to protect the items in your home from internal and external power surges.
Follow these tips to protect your home from power surges:
- Keep your trees trimmed and away from power lines
- Install plug-in surge protectors on sensitive and high-end devices
- Unplug devices and small appliances you’re not using
- If you have an older home, consider upgrading the wiring
If your home is experiencing frequent power surges or other electrical issues, then you may need some electrical upgrading.