Do you feel like you live in a haunted house with sudden power surges that make your lighting feel like strobe lights? Every home experiences an electricity fluctuation here or there, but multiple incidents regarding the power in your home could signal a problem. Understanding causes of power fluctuations, from house wiring issues to lightning strikes, can help you remedy the issue.
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Common causes of power fluctuations include wiring issues, lightning strikes, overloaded circuits, and power grid switching.
What Are Power Fluctuations?
A power fluctuation is a sudden surge or drop in the current through your electrical system. While this typically lasts just a fraction of a second, you can often see the effects of the fluctuations, especially at night with your lights on. When the current spikes, you might notice lights getting very bright. When it drops, you'll notice the lights dimming.
Wiring and Grounding Issues
Wiring issues within your home can also cause power fluctuations. Damaged, faulty, improperly grounded, or exposed wiring can cause a current spike through the wires. You can't typically see issues with wiring like bad connections since they're behind the wall, but you can look for signs of an issue, such as burn marks on outlets, a burning smell, buzzing from outlets, and frequent breakers being tripped. If you suspect you have a wiring issue, call a licensed electrician immediately to inspect the wiring and make necessary repairs.
Overloaded Electrical Circuits
Your home has multiple electrical circuits to balance the power demands, each with an amperage limit. If you run too many things on one circuit, you can experience an electricity fluctuation due to overwhelming the circuit. This can be a problem on the circuits for large appliances that draw a lot of power. Some appliances draw a large amount of electricity when they start up, such as a refrigerator or air conditioner when it kicks on. If anything else is on the circuit, it can be too much. Using several extension cords with multiple items plugged into them can also cause issues.
Pay attention to what you have plugged into the outlets on each circuit breaker to avoid overwhelming any one outlet. Use dedicated circuits for appliances that draw a lot of power. Limit your use of extension cords, and be careful when you use things like space heaters that use a lot of power.
Storms With Lightning
Lightning can create beautiful electrical shows in the sky, but it can also create damaging power spikes in your home. If lightning strikes your home or nearby power lines, it can cause a massive power spike that flows through your electrical system. This not only causes a major electricity fluctuation, but it can also severely damage anything plugged into outlets at the time. Surge protection devices can help protect the items plugged into outlets if you experience a surge due to lightning.
Power Grid Switching
Sometimes your electric utility company can cause electricity fluctuations. During "power grid switching," you might notice changes in your electricity. As your utility company switches your service from one grid to another, there can be a brief power flow interruption that causes the fluctuation. These types of fluctuations are unpredictable and you can't prevent them since they come from the power company itself.