How to protect your appliances from a power surge

Power outages are often an inconvenience. Because our daily lives are so centered around electricity usage, nothing spells relief quite like when power is restored. However, did you know that with the return of power can also come a power surge? Unfortunately power surges can spark frustration when causing damage to your home appliances and devices.

Thankfully, with a little planning, you can protect your home and favorite electronics.

So, what is a power surge?

A power surge is an unexpected and temporary increase in current or voltage in an electrical circuit. A surge can occur for several reasons coming from outside or inside your home, including electrical overload and faulty wiring, or as the result of power restoration efforts during power grid switching or a lightning strike. When a surge occurs, sudden jolts of electricity can carry thousands of volts of electricity through your home, damaging appliances and other electronics.

Signs of a power surge

Can you spot the signs of a power surge? Common signs that may indicate your appliance or electronic device has suffered from a surge are:

  • When a surge is happening, your lights may flicker, flash or dim more than usual. 
  • Your appliance and/or device is off or does not work.
  • A pungent burnt odor around a device or power source.
  • Your surge protector or strip requires a reset.

Tips to protect your appliances and electronics

Though most appliances and devices are designed to withstand minor voltage changes, even low level surges can cause damage. To help prevent this, as well as electrical hazards arising from a surge, consider these tips:

Use surge protectors: A surge protector safeguards wiring in appliances and electronic devices against unwanted voltage spikes.

Surge protecting power bars: These are designed to protect all wiring in your home from a power surge. 
Surge arresters: are installed in your electrical panel and limit the amount of electricity flowing to all outlets and appliances throughout your home.

Unplug devices you aren’t using: Look around your home and you'll likely find lots of devices not in use. In most cases, there is no need to keep these plugged in while idle so why not take the habit of unplugging them after use.

Upgrade inadequate wiring: Frequently blown fuses or lights that flicker or dim when a larger appliance kicks in are usually signs of inadequate wiring. To diagnose, repair or upgrade your home’s electrical system, be sure to hire a licensed electrician to safely do the work.

Fix overloaded circuits: You can protect electrical devices from power surges by limiting the amount of electricity supplied to one outlet. Often, kitchen appliances are the culprit. With the help of a licensed electrician, you can set up dedicated circuits for each large appliance. 

Grounding your outlets: If you have an older home, it is possible that you may have some outlets that aren’t grounded. Ungrounded outlets not only increase the risk of surges, they also pose a number of safety hazards. For this reason, this is an update that should be placed on your priority list.

Your lights coming back on are meant to be the happy ending to your outage story. With these tips, you can keep it that way!

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