6 Signs of a Power Surge: How to Spot and Prevent Power Surges in Your Home

power surgesEver noticed your lights flicker or your electronics acting weird? It could be a power surge.

These surges can wreak havoc on your household electronics, costing you time and money. Understanding and preventing power surges can save your appliances from unnecessary damage and keep your home safe.

What is a Power Surge?

A power surge is a sudden spike in voltage that travels through your home’s electrical system. Various factors, such as lightning strikes, power outages, or faulty electrical equipment, can cause these surges. When a power surge occurs, it can deliver an overwhelming amount of electricity to your devices, often leading to significant damage.

Why Is a Power Surge Dangerous?

Power surges are more than just a nuisance. They can pose serious risks, including fire hazards and damage to your expensive electronics. Imagine your computer, refrigerator, or home entertainment system getting fried instantly. That’s the kind of damage a power surge can inflict.

How Long Is a Power Surge?

Power surges are typically brief, lasting only a few microseconds. However, the damage they cause can be long-lasting. During a surge, the voltage in your electrical system goes way above the normal level. This can happen because of the quality of your electrical system or the standards of your appliances.

Common Causes of a Power Surge

Understanding what causes power surges is the first step in protecting your home. Power surges can stem from various sources, each posing a different level of risk.

Electrical Overload

Ever plugged in too many appliances and tripped a breaker? Overloading circuits with high-demand appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners can cause power surges.

Tripped Circuit Breakers

A damaged circuit breaker can fail to protect your electrical system from surges. It’s like having a weak defense, letting dangerous voltage spikes pass through.

Bad Wiring

Old or faulty wiring is a common culprit. If your home’s wiring isn’t up to par, it can contribute to frequent power surges.

Tree Limbs

Trees might add charm to your yard, but they can cause trouble if limbs touch power lines. This can lead to electrical interference and surges.


Squirrels and other critters love to chew on electrical equipment. This can disrupt your electrical system and cause surges.

Power Outage (Blackouts)

lightning causes power surgeWhen the power comes back on after a blackout, the sudden rush of electricity can cause a surge. Knowing what steps to take during and after an outage can help protect your devices.

Lightning Strikes

Mother Nature’s wrath can be powerful. Lightning strikes near your home can induce severe power surges. Taking measures to protect against lightning-induced surges is crucial.

6 Common Signs of a Power Surge in Your Home

Recognizing the signs of a power surge can help you act quickly to prevent further damage.

Flickering, Buzzing, or Dimming Lights

If your lights flicker or dim without a clear cause, it might be a sign of a power surge. Buzzing sounds are another red flag.

Discolored or Scorched Outlets

Scorched marks or discoloration around your outlets? That’s a sign that your electrical system has taken a hit.

Frayed Wiring

Frayed or damaged wiring can indicate past surges and make your home vulnerable to future ones.

Smoke from Outlets

Smoke is a serious warning sign. If you see or smell smoke near your outlets, turn off the power and call an electrician immediately.

Warm or Vibrating Outlets

Outlets that feel warm to the touch or vibrate are indicators of electrical issues, including potential surges.

Burning or Odd Odors

A burning smell near your outlets or appliances is a sure sign of trouble. Unplug devices and seek professional help.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s wise to turn off your lights, unplug devices, and call an electrician.

How to Prevent a Power Surges

Protecting your home from power surges is not just about reacting to problems—it’s about taking proactive steps to prevent them. Power surges can cause significant damage to your electronics, appliances, and even your home’s wiring. By implementing a few simple precautions and utilizing surge protection devices, you can safeguard your home from the costly and dangerous effects of power surges.

Inside the Home

  • Avoid Overcrowding Circuits: Don’t plug too many high-demand appliances into one circuit.
  • Unplug Devices Not in Use: This simple step can prevent unnecessary surges.
  • Update Old Wiring and Electrical Panels: Keeping your electrical system up to date reduces the risk of surges.

Outside the Home

  • Trim Trees and Clear Debris: Keep trees and other debris away from power lines.
  • Unplug During Storms: During severe weather, unplugging devices can prevent surge damage.
  • Protect Underground Service Lines: Make sure any underground lines are well-protected from potential damage.

Surge Protectors

  • Use Surge Protectors: Invest in quality surge protectors for your appliances and electronics.
  • Whole-Home Surge Protection: Consider a whole-home surge protection device for comprehensive protection.

How Does Surge Protection Work?

Surge protectors are your first line of defense against power surges. They work by diverting excess voltage away from your devices and into the grounding wire, protecting your electronics from damage.

Types of Surge Protectors

There are individual surge protectors for specific devices and whole-home systems that protect your entire electrical system. While individual protectors are useful, whole-home systems offer broader protection.

Benefits of Whole-Home Surge Protection

Whole-home surge protectors safeguard all your appliances and electronics, not just those plugged into a single protector. They offer peace of mind by protecting your entire electrical system.

Installation Process

Installing a whole-home surge protector typically requires a professional electrician. They’ll integrate the device into your home’s electrical panel, providing comprehensive protection.

Trust Right Touch to Perform Power Surge Evaluation

Electrician with CustomerIf you’re in Houston, TX, or the surrounding area, Right Touch Electrical is your go-to for power surge evaluations. With years of experience and proper licensing, they excel in preventive maintenance and repair services to safeguard your home.

Their motto,quality with a master’s touch,reflects their dedication to excellence. Trust their expertise to keep your electrical system protected and running smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Understanding and preventing power surges is vital for protecting your home and electronics. Taking preventive measures and seeking professional help when needed can save you from costly repairs and replacements.

For any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Right Touch Electrical.


Power surges can be confusing and worrisome, but understanding them can help you protect your home. Here are some frequently asked questions about power surges.

Q: What causes a power surge?

A: Power surges can be caused by various factors such as lightning strikes, power outages, overloaded circuits, and faulty wiring.

Q: How can I tell if my home has experienced a power surge?

A: Signs of a power surge include flickering lights, scorched outlets, frayed wiring, smoke from outlets, and unusual odors near electrical devices.

Q: What should I do if I suspect a power surge?

A: Turn off lights, unplug devices, and contact a professional electrician to assess the situation.

Q: Can power surges be prevented?

A: Yes, by using surge protectors, updating old wiring, and taking precautions during storms, you can reduce the risk of power surges.

Q: Are surge protectors effective against power surges?

A: Surge protectors can help protect your electronics from power surges, especially when using whole-home surge protection systems.

Q: What’s the difference between a power strip and a surge protector?

A: A power strip provides additional outlets but does not protect against power surges. A surge protector, on the other hand, offers protection by diverting excess voltage away from your devices.

Q: How often should I replace my surge protectors?

A: It’s a good idea to replace surge protectors every 2-3 years or after a significant surge event.

Q: Can animals really cause power surges?

A: Yes, animals like squirrels can interfere with electrical equipment, leading to power surges.

Q: What’s the best way to protect my home from lightning-induced surges?

A: Installing a whole-home surge protector and unplugging devices during storms are effective measures to protect against lightning-induced surges.

Q: Do I need a professional to install a whole-home surge protector?

A: Yes, it’s best to hire a professional electrician to ensure proper installation and protection.