Causes of Electrical Damage

Electrical damage can result from a variety of situations. It can be caused by overloaded or faulty equipment or by power surges. The exact effects of an electrical current on the body depend on the voltage of the current, the pathway it takes through the body, and the tissue’s resistance.electrical

Power surges can damage electronic devices and appliances. These surges occur when there is an increase in voltage above the normal level. A power surge can cause your refrigerator or microwave to stop working and can damage smaller devices like hair dryers, power tools, and TVs.

The most common cause of a power surge is faulty wiring in your home. This is most often the case in older homes where the wires are old, worn or exposed. It can also be the result of rodents chewing on wires and building nests in electrical junction boxes. If you suspect this is the case, have your home’s wiring inspected by an electrician. Faulty wiring is a major fire risk in homes and can be the source of a number of other issues including fuses blowing frequently, circuit breakers regularly tripping and flickering lights.

Another cause of power surges is lightning strikes. When lightning strikes a power line, it can cause a large spike in current which can damage electronics and appliances. When a home experiences a thunderstorm, it is a good idea to unplug all items that aren’t essential and to use surge protectors on your more expensive devices.

Other causes of power surges include aging power lines and large appliances that draw a lot of electricity, especially when they’re starting up or turning off. If you have an older home with outdated or corroded wiring, have it inspected by a professional electrician. You can also avoid problems caused by aging and corroded wiring by unplugging all appliances when they aren’t in use and never plugging multiple devices into the same outlet or extension cord.

Power surges can be costly to repair and sometimes cause irreparable damage. Some home insurance policies will cover these damages, though the amount that is paid out depends on what type of coverage you have and who was responsible for the surge. If you have equipment breakdown coverage, it may pay to replace damaged or destroyed appliances and electronics. This type of coverage is usually a part of your homeowners policy.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning strikes can cause a variety of electrical problems. The most common problem is that they create power surges. Those power surges can wreak havoc on electronics, especially devices that use semiconductors. The semiconductors are designed to deal with a certain amount of voltage, but the sudden spikes in current can damage or destroy them.

Lightning can also cause a fire by generating electrostatic charges. This can cause an electrical spark that burns through the insulation of wires and causes a fire. The spark can also char other components in the electrical system, including switches and appliances.

A direct lightning strike can cause extensive damage to a home’s wiring. When a lightning bolt hits a house, the electricity can travel through the homeowner’s plumbing and through wires that run from the home to the outside. The resulting voltage well above 120 or 240 volts can cause serious electrical damage.

Indirect lightning strikes can be just as dangerous. When lightning hits a tall object and jumps to a smaller metal surface, such as a person or an umbrella, it becomes a “streamer.” This streamer acts like a short circuit for a portion of the lightning’s current. The result can be deadly.

The shock waves produced by lightning can also fracture structures such as stone, brick and concrete. They can also damage the mortar in masonry chimneys, potentially allowing flammable gas to leak out.

Lightning also generates electromagnetic pulses (EMP). These can destroy electronics by overloading their semiconductors. The pulses can also destroy circuit breakers, causing them to overheat and eventually fail.

Lightning is also a common cause of faulty connections and overheating in household wiring. This can lead to melted outlets, damaged or fried breakers, and a home’s circuit breaker box can overheat and develop scorching or cracking around its breaker-to-pane-bus connection, which is often difficult to see without disassembly. It’s important to have your home’s wiring professionally inspected after a lightning storm.

Overloaded Circuits

Electrical circuits are designed to handle a specific amount of current. When a circuit receives more power than its capacity, the wiring can overheat. When this happens, the breaker or fuse that protects the circuit will trip and shut off service. If the problem goes unchecked, it can cause damage to appliances and equipment as well as a potential fire hazard.

Signs of a circuit overload include lights dimming or flickering, as well as sizzling sounds. These noises can be caused by arcing within wires or insulation breakdown in electronic devices. These signs are a warning to turn off power to the circuit and seek professional help immediately. Overloaded circuits are a leading cause of home fires in the United States, which can lead to property damage, injury, and death.

Electrical circuit overloads often happen when a homeowner plugs too many devices into the same outlet or uses a device with high wattage on a circuit that is not rated for this much electricity. However, it is also possible for overloads to occur due to outdated or damaged wiring.

When a circuit is overloaded, the excess heat can melt the plastic in outlets and switches or cause the wires to burn. This can create a fire hazard as the melting and burning material can short circuit the rest of the circuit, potentially causing a house fire.

Overloading a circuit can also cause the heat from the excess current to travel through other parts of your house, such as through walls and under floorboards. This can weaken the structure of your home and damage your appliances.

Overloading a circuit can be prevented by using surge protectors, mapping out your household’s electrical system, and spreading the load between outlets. This includes not putting too many appliances or other devices into one outlet, not using extension cords as permanent wiring, and keeping electronics away from heaters and blow dryers. It is also important to upgrade your wiring when needed, as this can reduce the risk of overheating and a fire.

Ungrounded Electronics

If your home has ungrounded outlets, you may want to consider having them replaced. Grounded outlets are safer and allow more electrical capacity, especially when there’s a power surge. Ungrounded wires don’t protect the appliances connected to them as well either, meaning that they can become damaged or overheated if there is a power surge.

You can easily tell if an outlet is ungrounded by looking at the prongs that it has. Two-prong outlets have vertical slots that connect to the hot and neutral wires, while grounded outlets have a third slot for connecting a grounding wire.

The purpose of the grounding wire is to send excess electricity back into itself, or “to ground.” This prevents it from reaching dangerous levels that could damage appliances or cause a fire. The excess electricity is able to do this because the grounding wire is connected to the metal chassis of your house’s electrical system.

Without the grounding wire, renegade electricity will seek an alternate way to reach the ground. It can travel down the metal chassis of your electrical system and into a breaker box or into something that’s made of wood, plastic, or rubber.

In some cases, this can lead to a fire or explosion that can damage your property or even injure or kill people. If you notice that your outlets are ungrounded, it’s best to get them fixed as soon as possible.

An electrician’s main goal is to keep your family safe from harm. It’s easy to forget that electricity is an unruly force of nature that can be deadly in the blink of an eye. While modern technology has helped to tame electricity, it still poses dangers in many forms. Electricians work to protect their clients and their homes by installing as many safeguards as possible. If you have ungrounded outlets, it’s important to get them rewired to avoid the risk of electrical damage, fires, and injuries. Contact our licensed electricians today to schedule an appointment for a home inspection and any needed outlet upgrades. We’ll have your home up to code in no time.

Tommy Pena