Have you ever experienced lights flickering in your home or an appliance look like it’s going to die and all of a sudden come back to life? Have you ever woken up to the clocks in your kitchen flashing? These are all signs of an electrical surge taking place. These take place many times a day but often they are so small that they are barely even noticed or have any effect. Sometimes, though, they can be strong enough to completely ruin the electrical components in your appliance making them useless. Soon enough you’ll find yourself needing to call a local repairman to repair the circuitry.
What exactly is a surge? It’s when the flow of electricity is interrupted and then it starts up again, or when something causes the electricity to flow back into the system again. Surges can happen for a variety of reasons, but the most common reasons are:
- Circuits and outlets being overloaded with small or large appliances and gadgets
- Damaged or exposed electrical wiring
- Lightning strikes
- High power electrical devices
- Power outages
So, if power surges are so common, and they can be so destructive, there must be something that can be done to prevent them, right? Below are a few preventative measures you can take to greatly minimize the chances that your electrical appliances don’t get overwhelmed with power surges.
Surge Protecting Power Strips
Before getting to this point, there is one very easy and simple preventative measure you can take to assure you won’t get hit with a surge. It’s as simple as unplugging your appliance from the outlet, but not every appliance is easy to unplug. Things such as your furnace, dishwasher, refrigerator and stove can’t be unplugged every time it rains. For these items, you can use a power strip that is sold is every big box store, but even your local grocery store or pharmacy will carry them. Instead of allowing the electrical flow back into the system, the power strip rediverts the energy to the electrical ground keep the power at safe levels.
Whole-house Surge Protector
Not everything is as easy as connecting it to a power strip, either. Sometimes it’s more practical to install a whole-house surge protector which applies the same concept as a power strip but on a much larger scale. This unit is connected directly into your service panel or fuse box and protects every appliance in your house from dangerous surges. This is certainly more expensive than a little power strip you plug into the wall, but it could potentially save you thousands of dollars in new appliances. At best, it can save you money from needing to get your refrigerator repaired by a technician.
Use of GFCI
GFCI’s or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters are typically found in kitchens and bathrooms to prevent water from causing sever electrical damage. When the flow of electricity exceeds a certain threshold then the GFCI will automatically cut off the circuit loop. These same principles can also be applied to other appliances so that they don’t get ruined. Consider installing GFCI’s throughout your home.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
This option is similar to installing a power strip for individual devices but a UPS comes with a battery backup so that your devices don’t lose power. These power stations are usually found near a computer or network room where information and data need to be continually saved.
Surges are never a fun hassle to deal with, but if you are prone to getting them, these suggestions could really take you far. Protecting yourself from surges doesn’t have to be expensive, but they are certainly worthwhile investments.