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Electrical Surges in Homes

by Steve Vacha
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It is estimated that a normal house receives up to 4,000 electrical surges every year. Ever wonder why your dishwasher or microwave suddenly stopped working one day? Electrical surges may be the hidden culprit.

My new home’s A/C unit had to be replaced three times in the first 3 years. Finally, the HVAC tech suggested installing a surge protection device on the unit. The A/C has worked fine for the last 13 years.

The damage to our devices from one surge is not always catastrophic, but multiple, continual surges to the sensitive electronics or our homes has a cumulative effect – causing trouble to our computers, TVs, microwaves, dishwashers, or any other appliance with a computer chip.

What causes these surges? As advanced as our power grids are, they still have limitations and can be disturbed. Some causes include small animals walking on the electrical lines, trees falling on the lines, or malfunctions of the electrical lines and connectors outside our home. These pauses and surges of power are what can cause the problems to our devices.

How do we protect our electronics and appliances from electrical surges? Surge protection strips have been our go to defense for stand-alone electronics like computers and big screens. Older houses will typically have ungrounded outlets. Surge protection strips alone do not provide protection when plugged into an ungrounded outlet.

A more comprehensive protection is a whole house surge protection device (which will protect appliances plugged into ungrounded outlets). A commonly known system is what OPPD offers. They will install a whole house protection system at the main electrical socket of the house. There is a monthly fee for this service. Another option is to have an electrician install a whole house surge protection device near the main electrical panel.

Both these options are much cheaper than having to replace even one major appliance.


Written by Steve Vacha
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