Power surges are kind of like the bi-product of electricity you can say. There are natural phenomena that can trigger power surges. While there is no solution to the problem of power surges, there are of course ways to protect your home and electronic appliances from any sort of damage by them.
But first, what exactly is a power surge? Power surges are sudden spikes in the electrical voltage, which last for just a few seconds. However, the intensity of power surges is the determining factor behind any sort of damage.
How Are Power Surges Damaging For Electronic Appliances
What exactly happens when a power surge occurs? Surges are sudden spikes, and as we already mentioned, the intensity is what determines the sort of damage that can occur. So how does a power surge damage an electronic appliance?
You would find that during thunderstorms your parents usually unplug the TV, the kitchen appliances, and anything else that’s expensive. Why is that, have you ever thought? So any device connected or plugged into the home’s power source is at risk of experiencing a power surge. When a surge occurs, there is a sudden spike in the incoming voltage which could be twice, twenty, or even a hundred times more than the regular voltage.
This spike and excessive voltage finds its way into our homes through cables and wiring and eventually passes onto power outlets – where if anything is plugged in, is likely to be at risk of damage.
Since electronic appliances require only a certain amount of voltage, excessive incoming currents can easily damage the inner mechanics of the devices. But the damage isn’t always detrimental – it varies according to the intensity of the surge.
What Causes a Power Surge?
Now that you know what and how a power surge is damaging to electronic appliances, you must also understand what the circumstances are that trigger power surges in the first place.
- Lightning and Thunderstorms
Turbulent weather is one of the most obvious causes of power surges. That is why we brought up the example of our parents unplugging expensive appliances during a storm. Why take the risk of replacing such appliances equally as expensive? Can a TV be fixed after a power surge? Of course, but there is never a guarantee of a complete fix, and that goes for all kinds of appliances.
- Faulty and Old Wiring
Believe it or not but the wiring within the structures of our homes is also a factor that can trigger a power surge. It could be one on a minuscule scale but it could also cause short-circuiting. Since power surges in general oftentimes go unnoticed, how would you be able to identify if the wiring that is behind power outlets or within the structures of your home is damaged?
Here are some telltale signs to watch out for, which could indicate damage to the wiring:
- A burning odor originates from the power outlet.
- Burn marks around the power outlet openings.
- A subtle, but audible buzzing sound coming from the outlet.
- Overloaded Power Outlets
Plugging in multiple devices to one source of power (read: outlet) is likely to trigger a power surge. But why? Isn’t that essentially the purpose of extension cords and multi-plugs, to let us utilize one outlet for a couple of devices? Ideally yes, but plugging in different devices with different voltage requirements, especially those that vary by a great margin, will definitely trigger a surge.
For instance, you shouldn’t be plugging in your hairdryer to the same power outlet your phone charger is plugged into. The voltage requirements for both devices vary by quite a lot, so it would be wise to unplug your charger till you’re done using the hair dryer.
There are other factors that can trigger a power surge, but the main question here is can you repair an appliance that has been damaged because of a surge? Or would you have to replace it with a new one? And this is a genuine concern because home appliances aren’t cheap.
Can You Really Salvage Any Appliance Damaged By a Surge?
The answer to this question is a yes but not necessarily so, and that’s because it depends entirely on the intensity of a surge that occurs and to what particular appliance. Things like our laptop adapters and phone chargers, even with the smallest of a surge can get damaged entirely – so you may need a replacement.
However, with bigger appliances, surges with small intensities aren’t really damaging. But there are still ways to protect your home appliances from any sort of damage – and that includes things like chargers too.
Should you find any appliance damaged, of course, you would take it in for repair or claim it under warranty. But when it comes to power surges, you can find an easy way out that may just take the burden off your wallet. Surge Coverage Plans provided by electric companies are one way to assure your appliance’s repairment costs are taken care of – they only require a small monthly fee.
Other than that, homeowners should use surge protectors to plug their devices into. These devices ground any excess voltage instead of letting it pass on through to your appliance that is plugged in.