First, you hear the roar of thunder. Then, you flinch from the sight of lightning bolts flickering outside your windows. In a matter of seconds, the fear of appliances blowing out from the electrically sets in. Lightning storms certainly warrant such a panicked reaction, but it might surprise you to know that they aren’t the only threat to your home’s electrical system. In fact, blowouts more often occur due to factors within your home’s own circuitry.
Devices running on motors, such as refrigerators, water pumps, and even hair dryers, cause most home power surges. These appliances use a lot of energy. When turned off, their power is diverted elsewhere in your circuitry as excess voltage.
Most appliances in the U.S. operate at 120 volts, with a maximum voltage rating of 169 volts. Because of the influx of excess voltage from turning off of an appliance, the power in outlets can exceed the maximum voltage rating, potentially causing damage to plugged-in devices.
Home-sourced surges also occur due to faulty wiring in your house or wiring incapable of withstanding voltage spikes. Additionally, short circuits and tripped breakers also cause potentially damaging power surges.
In the worst cases, power surges can lead to house fires. Therefore, never take them lightly. What can you do to protect yourself against this dangerous phenomenon?
Consult an Electrician
One of the most important steps toward preventing power surges is to contact trusted electricians in Easthampton, MA. The experts can assess whether your wiring is in good or poor working condition. If they find damaged wires, they will recommend the appropriate steps to repair them and minimize the risk of surges.
Upgrade Older Wiring
If you own an older home, you may need to replace your wires. This is especially true if your home was built in the ’80s. Home wiring technology in this era has long since fallen behind the capacity to handle newer, more powerful appliances—i.e., refrigerators, freezers, and entertainment systems. Frequently blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers usually indicate that your wiring cannot handle your home’s high-voltage appliances.
Unplug Unused Devices
To deter power surges, identify abandoned or unused appliances throughout your home that are still plugged into sockets. Though unused, these appliances still draw minimal amounts of electricity, contributing to the strain on your circuitry, which can increase the likelihood of a power surge. Furthermore, the more items you leave plugged into sockets, used or unused, the more items you end up damaging when a power surge occurs. Before leaving home, make it a point to unplug everything you are not using.
Get a Surge Protector
One of the cheapest protections you can buy are surge protectors. These devices resemble the typical power strip, but have the ability to absorb electrical surges and divert them into the ground, away from your devices.
Invest in Whole-Home Surge Protection
Surge protectors, though helpful, become awkward because they essentially function as extension cords. Also, their ability to absorb voltage spikes is limited, meaning that some appliances may still end up damaged. Fortunately, you can purchase surge protectors that cover the entire house. These devices are wired to your electric service box and sustain a higher voltage-absorption capacity than other surge protectors. When choosing such devices, bigger is usually better. Look for a protector capacitating at least 600 Joules to gain adequate protection.
Damaged appliances and house fires can wreak catastrophic damage to your home and valuable possessions, while risking your life as well. Spare yourself the heartache and the financial burden by protecting your home against power surges. If you need to get your home’s wiring checked or wish to install a home-wide surge protector, be sure to contact only a trusted electrician. Such experts will help ensure that your home is protected.
What Is an Electrical Power Surge?, AngiesList.com
Suppressing the Surge, ThisOldHouse.com
Preventing power surges, PowerHouseTV.com