Typical Electrical Problems in the Home

Electrical disturbances of which 80% originate inside the home can be caused by day-to-day use of normal home equipment and appliances. Outside of lightning and storm related accidents residential home equipment and appliances often break, are installed incorrectly or produce electrical problems by virtue of mechanical failure or improper use. Electrical devices with motors, compressors or large power loads like air conditioners, fan systems, water coolers, and water heaters often cycle on and off in a 24 hour period. These devices in particular can overpower circuits, experience mechanical failure and overheat. Our experience has show that heating and air conditioning systems, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, pumps, fans, solar panel inverters, hot water hearers, pool motors, garage door openers and fans are responsible for electrical problems. In certain cases even simple non-fixed home appliances like microwaves  vacuum cleaners and blenders, and power tools like saws, sanders and drills can cause of electrical disturbances.

Digital equipment powered by circuits that have problem appliances or equipment sharing a line can be affected by electric disturbances. While most major digital equipment manufactures place built in surge and spike protection inside the devices to prevent damage to microchips, screens and speciality digital storage, damage can still occur. A power disturbance can produce problems like instant breakdown to more gradual deterioration over time. We recommend  surge protectors and when appropriate power conditioners to protect your valuable digital equipment. Electronic devices don’t even need to be in use to be susceptible to spikes and surges. If a device is plugged into a live circuit in your home it is vulnerable to any disturbances on the circuit.

While spikes are brief bursts of too much voltage, surges are also bursts of additional voltage which last a bit longer. Typically spikes and surges are precipitated by weather such as lighting storms and accidents, or by home appliances such as faulty air conditioners, power tools, coffee makers or microwave ovens being turned off, either automatically or by hand. Spikes and surges can destroy electronics instantly or over a more gradual timeframe. Among the things most susceptible to spikes and surges are TVs, DVD & Blue Ray, home computers, stereo systems, microwave ovens, electronic video games and telephone answering machines. Devices like Security systems, digital thermostats, refrigerators and additional home appliances may be damaged by them as well. We always recommend digital equipment to be connected to an intermediary device to protect from  spikes and surges.

The opposite of surges and spikes can be equally damaging. Sags and dips are short periods of low voltage. Outages (or blackouts) are periods when there is no electric power. Sags, dips and blackouts can last from  a second to minutes or even longer. Sags and dips may be caused when an electrical device draws power as it is turned on. Sags, dips and outages can be devastating on digital equipment by causing data loss or physical damage to iPads, iPods, laptops, PC’s, computers and other devices that use memory. DVD, Blue Ray, Roku, Apple TV, VCRs, microwaves, faxes and answering machines can also be affected.

In the event you wish your home to be hardened against electrical disturbances R.A. Thomas Electric can install home-wide ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI or GFI) receptacles and or surge and spike protection receptacles in your walls as a replacement for normal unprotected receptacles. More sophisticated homes may wish to have Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems installed which have a long history of saving both equipment and work. Many come with a supplemental insurance program against loss of equipment should the equipment fail. While UPS have been commonly used for computers and related equipment – an entire home may be retrofitted to provide the same operation – at least for certain dedicated circuits. Some systems operate “online” to filter out all types of power problems and provide disturbance-free electricity during normal operating conditions. Call (828) 259-3999 for more information.