What Causes Power Surges?

A man checking a circuit breaker on an electrical panel.

We’ve all experienced that sudden flicker of lights or the unexpected shutdown of a device while watching our favorite show or working on a critical project. These events can be alarming and frustrating. So, what causes power surges in the first place? Understanding the underlying reasons behind these electrical hiccups is essential, not just for peace of mind but also for protecting your valuable electronic devices.

In this blog, we’ll review why power surges happen, their common causes, and how you can protect your home and devices from their damaging effects.

What Is a Power Surge?

A power surge, also known as a transient voltage, is a brief spike in the electrical current running through your home’s electrical system. This spike can increase the voltage flowing to your electrical devices beyond what they are designed to handle, potentially causing damage.

External Power Surges

External power surges originate from outside your home. Common sources include:

  • Lightning Strikes: A direct or nearby lightning strike can cause a massive surge in the power lines, overwhelming your home’s electrical system.
  • Power Outages: When power is restored after an outage, the sudden influx of electrical current can create a surge.
  • Utility Company Issues: Problems such as downed power lines or maintenance work by the utility company can lead to power surges.
  • Unavoidable External Events: Natural disasters or accidents that damage power lines can also be a source of external surges.

Internal Power Surges

Internal power surges are caused by issues within your home’s electrical system. Let’s discuss why power surges happen in this situations:

  • Large Appliances: Devices like refrigerators, air conditioners, and power tools draw a significant amount of electricity and can cause a surge when they turn on or off.
  • Faulty Wiring: Suspect faulty wiring or exposed electrical wires can create an unstable electrical current, leading to surges.
  • Overloaded Circuits: Plugging in multiple devices and appliances into the same circuit can overwhelm it, causing a surge.
  • Tripped Circuit Breakers: When circuit breakers trip and reset, the sudden restoration of power can create a surge.

Sudden Demand on the Electrical System

One of the most common reasons why power surges happen is the sudden demand placed on the electrical system. When high-powered devices like air conditioners or space heaters are turned on, they draw a large amount of electricity, which can create a surge.

Electrical Overloads

So, what causes power surges? There can be several culprits, but one of the most common is overloaded circuits. Overloading circuits by plugging too many devices into a single outlet or power strip can cause power surges. Not all power strips are equipped with surge protection, so it’s essential to use surge protectors, especially for valuable electronic equipment.

Power Outages and Restoration

After a power outage, the sudden return of electrical power can cause a surge. The abrupt influx of electricity can overload the system, leading to transient voltage spikes.

Faulty Wiring and Electrical Issues

Old or damaged wiring can create unstable electrical currents. If you notice dimming lights or other visible signs of electrical issues, it’s crucial to address these problems to prevent potential surges.

Lightning Strikes and External Events

Although less common, lightning strikes are a powerful cause of power surges. Even a distant strike can send a surge through power lines into your home. Other external events, such as damage to power lines from storms or accidents, can also lead to surges.

The Impact of Power Surges on Your Home

Now that you’re familiar with the causes of power surges, it’s important to know how this electrical problem can affect your home. Let’s review the potential consequences of power surge damage.

Damage to Electronic Devices

Power surges can cause significant damage to electronic devices and appliances. The excess voltage can fry circuits, render devices inoperable, and even pose a fire risk. Commonly affected items include computers, televisions, home entertainment systems, and kitchen appliances.

Decreased Lifespan of Electrical Equipment

Even if a surge doesn’t immediately destroy a device, repeated surges can shorten the lifespan of your electrical equipment. This is because the excess voltage gradually wears down the internal components, leading to premature failure.

Fire Hazards

In severe cases, power surges can cause electrical fires. This is especially true if your home’s wiring is old or damaged. Addressing faulty wiring and using proper surge protection can mitigate this risk.

Contact Our Electricians in Simi Valley, CA!

Protecting your home from power surges is a vital aspect of maintaining a safe and functional living environment. If you suspect faulty wiring, need to upgrade your electrical system, or want to install surge protection, RR Electric is here to help. Our team of experienced electricians in Simi Valley, CA, offers comprehensive electrical services to keep your home protected against power surges and other electrical issues.

Now that you know what causes power surges, why wait to get the professional assistance you need? Whether you need surge protection services or a whole-house generator hookup, we can do it all. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a safer home!