Modern Australian

What Are the Risks of Power Surges?

A power surge takes place when the electricity supply is disrupted and then gets restored again in a span of seconds. This irregularity in the supply can damage appliances and electronic devices that contain microprocessors.

Microprocessors are small digital components used in many types of consumer goods, including refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, computers, smartphones, etc. These are very sensitive to power surges – even just a 10-volt power fluctuation is enough to damage them and affect their functionality.  

A major power surge, such as one caused by a lightning strike, can lead to severe, immediate damage to appliances and electronic devices. Such extreme power surges can ‘fry’ circuits and ruin plastic and metal components. It’s a good thing these types of surges are rare.

The more common low-level power surges cause electronic rust. This then leads to the degradation of electronic components and, eventually, device failure.

Causes of Power Surges

Power surges can happen for a number of reasons:

  • Using the same electrical outlet for plugging in several appliances or devices at the same time

  • When you keep using items with damaged electrical wiring

  • Appliances that use up a lot of electricity to run, like air conditioners, hairdryers, flatirons, vacuum cleaners and refrigerators, can cause lights to flicker slightly when they overload the circuit

  • Tree limbs or branches and animals (e.g. birds or snakes) that come into contact with power lines can disrupt the flow of electrical current

  • A lightning strike can spike the electrical current flowing into your home and can fry circuit boards and melt the components of electronic equipment and appliances

Signs of a Power Surge

When your appliance or electronic device has a power surge, the following things can happen:

  • It turns off or won’t power up.

  • The clock or lights on your device won’t stop blinking.

  • You detect a burning smell around the appliance, device or power source.

Meanwhile, these are signs that a power surge is about to occur:

  • Appliances/devices switching off or resetting by themselves

  • Circuit breaker or safety switch trips

  • Electric devices keep failing

  • Bad or faulty wiring

Protection and Prevention

Implement the following tips to reduce the risk of and the damage a power surge can cause in your home:

  • Ensure appliances and devices not in use are switched off and unplugged.

  • Install telephone line surge protection circuits.

  • Purchase standard or quality appliances.

  • Connect expensive appliances to quality surge protectors.

  • Use only high-quality safety switches.

  • Let your provider or council know of any risks external to your home.

If power surges are a concern in your home or if you have valuable devices and appliances that you want to protect from electrical current fluctuations, set an appointment with a professional electrician. 

They can check if the wiring inside your home is in order, as well as test appliances and devices for any signs of damage from electrical surges. This helps ensure the safety and longevity of your appliances and electronic devices, and your peace of mind.

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