Preventing the Scourge of Power Surges

 

 

Because we live in a world of electricity, we tend to take it for granted: We plug our appliances, devices, and gadgets in, and electricity flows to power them. Then, it happens: you turn on your vacuum cleaner and a sudden fluctuation or change of voltage makes the lights flicker and momentarily dim, or a sudden strike of lightning suddenly hits one of your utility company’s transformers or power lines, causing a sudden voltage change and voila; you’ve just experienced what is commonly called a power surge. In more specific terms; it is a spike or oversupply of voltage from the power company which can either be additive or subtractive with positive or negative polarity, or an instance when the electricity flow is suddenly interrupted and then started again, causing power to flow back into the electrical system. These surges generate electric currents that can reach up to 6,000 volts or more (more is especially true for lightning strikes). Thankfully; they usually only last for less than a thousandth of a second.

Power surges may seem like nothing more than a minor annoyance, but they can wreak some serious havoc on your appliances, devices, and gadgets. How so? Most of your electrically-charged or powered equipment relies on microprocessor technology; which is highly vulnerable to things like static electricity. Surges can damage or even destroy those microprocessors and computer chips in your phone, your computer, and your Smart TV. Lower voltages can cause degradation in electronic circuits; causing them to eventually fail. In extreme cases, really strong power surges can cause devices and appliances to overheat, break down and even catch fire! So protecting your home’s electrical systems and devices against power surges makes sense; as it not only helps you prevent any nasty disasters, but also saves you thousands of dollars worth of appliance and device repairs and replacements. Here are some tips that can help get you started:

Lessen the load – on your home’s circuits, that is. Overloaded circuits are usually caused by two or more large appliances connected to the same circuit, or a bunch of smaller appliances all plugged into one source. You can ask your electrician to create dedicated circuits for each of your large appliances, and to create separate circuits for each of the sections in your house with multiple devices plugged in.

Unplug your devices – make a habit of unplugging your devices from the outlet when they’re not being used. This also saves you from having vampire loads, which we discussed in a previous post. Also, make sure that you unplug all sensitive electronic devices (tablets, computers, smart phones) from the outlet when there is a storm to keep their chips and circuits safe.

Upgrade your wiring – With your electrician’s help; carefully inspect your home’s wiring and electrical systems and replace any old and damaged wiring. While you’re at it, make sure that you upgrade your electrical systems if you have an older house; as the old electrical systems were not designed to handle running today’s larger-capacity refrigerators and freezers, more powerful computer systems, and multi-speaker home theater systems. Some red flags that you need to upgrade your current (no pun intended) electrical wiring system are: fuses that keep blowing up, circuit breakers that continually trip, and the way your home’s lights flicker and dim when you activate one of your large appliances.

Use surge protectors – Surge protectors help to mitigate the effects of a power surge by diverting the excess surge voltage into the outlet’s grounding wire while keeping the standard voltage flowing and powering the devices that are plugged in to it. Go for surge protectors for your sensitive electronic equipment, and use a whole-home surge processor while you’re at it.

Power Surges are no joke: they can happen at any time. But with a few simple steps, your home can be protected from their damaging effects. Wiretech Company Residential Electrical Service and Repair can help you with your power surge problems by performing an electrical safety inspection of your home. We also provide you with surge protection services and products. We’ve been providing professional residential electrical services in the Raleigh Area since 1990. Call us up at 919-372-4536 or contact us online for all of your product and service inquiries and for more information.

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