How to Tell If Your Power Strip Has Had a Power Surge

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Plug expensive electronics into a surge protector to guard against permanent damage from power surges.

A power surge may not automatically ruin electronic equipment, but repeated surges will shorten the devices' lifespan.


Dispose of any power strip you suspect has experienced a surge because it could cause further damage to your electronics.

There are several ways to tell if your power strip experienced a surge.

Power surges are extreme, fast pulses of electronic voltage, and are considered the most damaging of all power disturbances. Surges can fry equipment not guarded by surge protectors. The extreme amount of electricity coursing through an electronic device will likely cause lasting damage as the surge outpaces the maximum voltage of the device. Guard against surges by plugging your electronics into a surge protector. Not every power strip has surge protection.

Step 1

Observe the electronics plugged into the power strip. If they are flashing, such as clock radios, there is a chance the power strip experienced a surge.

Step 2

Test any equipment plugged into the power strip. If the strip does not have a surge protector and the equipment will not work, a surge may have occurred.

Step 3

Smell the area around the power strip. Power surges can cause acrid, burnt odors resulting from the voltage spike shorting out electronics' inner components.

Step 4

Locate the strip's reset button. Following a surge, the button will switch into the reset position and will not work until manually reset. If this is the case, the strip may have experienced a power surge.


Tallulah Philange

Tallulah Philange has worked as a journalist since 2003. Her work has appeared in the "Princeton (N.J.) Packet," "Destinations" magazine and in higher education publications. She also has edited and produced online content for those publications. Philange holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from American University and a Master of Arts in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University.