A power surge occurs when electricity flows through power lines at a level higher than typically expected. Residential properties use 120-volt AC power to operate the electrical appliances within a home. The power level does fluctuate often, but it usually remains within a safe range of up to 169 volts. A surge that exceeds this level can cause extensive damage to your electrical items. All homeowners should learn how to prevent damage from power surges and understand the risks if one happens in their home.

What Causes Power Surges

Interruptions in the power grid can produce a surge of electricity that travels through the power lines in the service area. A power surge may affect a single home or all the homes in a neighborhood. The interruptions can happen when violent storms affect service, if a malfunction occurs in any component in the service line, or during maintenance work performed by the utility company. Any time the power flickers or a blackout occurs, there is the possibility of the home experiencing a surge.

Some surges may impact only a single home because they originate on the property. Many home appliances have minor fluctuations in power as they turn off and on. The item may require more electricity for specific functions than it uses during other tasks. Faulty wiring in a home may also cause surges that could affect anything wired or plugged into the electrical network. Not every power surge raises the voltage enough to destroy items instantly, so a wiring problem in the home can remain undetected.

Why Damage Occurs

Many appliances and other electrical devices can withstand small surges without noticeable damage. Power surges cause an arc within an electronic device. Small arcs create a moderate amount of added heat that can cause minor damage to the components inside the electrical appliance. Continuous exposure to small surges will eventually wear out your devices faster, and they will require replacement sooner than you would expect. In addition, homeowners consistently replacing a specific appliance may have faulty wiring at that outlet.

Large surges, like those during a lightning storm or when the power returns following a blackout, cause more electricity to move through the lines. More volts will create larger arcs that can cause instantaneous destruction to any connected devices. The appliance or other electrical device may suddenly stop working without any sign of damage. The homeowner may detect an acrid, burnt odor around the damaged item or throughout the home. In some instances, although the risk is low, a power surge could cause an arc large enough to start a fire.

Choose Effective Power Surge Solutions

Using surge strips, an option many homeowners rely on, will not always provide the expected level of protection against power surges. Many strips function as extension cords and do not divert electrical surges to a ground line as needed to protect the items that are plugged in. Alternatively, whole-house surge protectors are designed to keep all electrical appliances and other devices safe. A whole-house option offers more protection and is more convenient than individual cords that may not effectively prevent damage.

Contact a Professional to Prevent Surge Damage

Power surges happen without warning and can instantly destroy every electrical item in a home. Every modern household relies on its appliances, so protecting them will save money and frustration. The most secure way to safeguard your home and prevent power surge damage is to contact a professional electrician. A qualified electrician can repair, replace, and upgrade your residential electrical system.

At Dawson's Electric, we will inspect the electrical system throughout any home in the Fuquay-Varina and Raleigh area to ensure no shortages or other problems exist that make the house vulnerable to a destructive power surge. We will also provide you with a detailed estimate before the work begins. We offer a wide range of residential electrical services, including repairs, new installations, and service upgrades for interior and exterior lighting. We also install whole home generators. We are fully licensed and insured and use only skilled, certified electricians. Our customers can join our maintenance program to receive discounts and annual safety inspections. Contact Dawson's Electric today to discuss your concerns or to schedule a system inspection.

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