Power Surges and Preventing Damage
High winds from the recent hurricanes in the Southern United States and the Islands caused major power outages when the lines were pulled down, blown down, and poles completely upended. For states in the Northern part of the country, power outages occur every winter due to heavy snow and ice either pulling down the lines or breaking large branches that fall on the power lines.
Once power is restored after the disaster, you will experience a power “inrush.” This happens because there is “empty space” in the lines that the electrical currents rush to fill. Your appliances and electronics are not designed to withstand such a power flow. This fluctuation can damage the electrical items in your home or business.
Appliance mechanical controls are usually not affected by power surges, but the electrical controls are quite susceptible. Some of the components in your appliances that can be affected are digital temperature settings, timers, and custom speed settings. Each of these has sensitive circuits.
The electronics in your home or business (computers, printers, TVs, gaming systems) are highly at risk to receive surge damage. This is due to the integrated circuits that are common in many thousands of tiny capacitors, resistors, and transistors. Even the smallest voltage surge can put excessive stress on these components.
Managing against loss
Use only UL-tested surge protectors, and replace them periodically. This ensures functionality. When a power outage does occur, unplug appliances and electronics. This will lessen the risk of surge damage if there is an inrush when power is restored.
Surge protectors can protect your electronics from voltage surges. Some provide better protection than others. A common misunderstanding is that a power strip is a surge protector. Actually, all a power strip does is provide additional outlets. Surge protectors are rated to absorb a stated amount of Joules (a unit of energy). When the surge protector has absorbed that many joules, it cannot provide protection. We recommend surge protectors that include an LED indicator that tells when protection is no longer provided. Replace surge protectors periodically to reduce the risk of surge-related damage.
If you file a claim
A power outage doesn’t automatically result in damage to all electronics and appliances in a home or business. Often just some of the items are “fried” or otherwise damaged. Therefore, be sure to have the adjuster test all items for full functionality. The adjuster will determine if the electronics and appliances will be repaired or replaced, determined by the resulting cost.
Having a home and business contents inventory will assist with your claim. If the item caught fire, you’ll have the manufacturer and model number listed on your report to help support the value of your items. This will make your job of completing this information easier and will enable you to file your claim quickly.