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Electricity literally powers our lives. From household appliances to chargeable mobile devices, we depend on electricity for everything. When there is a power outage at our residence, we can end up panicking; especially about our fridges and freezers full of food. Here are a few reasons why there can be power outages.

External factors

Our electrical supply is so consistent that when there is no power, we think there is something wrong at home. Here are some external factors that could cause blackouts in residential areas.

Trees – Falling trees, during a storm can knock out power lines and electrical poles. These can take time to fix but the damage is limited to a smaller area.

Earthquakes – This is an obvious one and you won’t be wondering why your power is out after an earthquake. With all the damage it can cause, some of it could be to power plants, poles, power lines, infrastructure and other damage that comes with it.

Weather – Storms and lightning. Storms can cause a lot of problems with power lines and power supply. This is one of the primary causes for blackouts. Lightening during a storm, although less likely, could hit electricity poles, power lines, and other electrical supply devices along the power route with super surges that cause a lot of damage. These situations can take a lot of time to fix, and one can never know when power will be restored. Even though a surge protector will not stop the outage, it could help protect your household appliances from damage.

Animals – Despite protection against this, some smaller animals and rodents get into electrical equipment and cause short circuits.

Excavation – Electricity lines run overhead and underground as well. When these power or gas lines are not clearly defined or overlooked when there is excavation, there can be damage to high voltage power lines causing a blackout in a residential area. This issue can also take a lot of time to repair because the restoration work is quite intensive.

Vehicles – If there is an accident involving an electrical pole falling over, or even being hit, there could be a power outage for houses that were being supplied via that line.

Power demand – All electrical systems have a tipping point, whether it is in your house at the safety switch, or at the power plant on a much bigger scale. The principle is simple. Whenever there is a demand for power greater than the system is designed to supply, there is an overload and the system shuts down to avoid damage. For the local power station or the city this can take time to reset.

Within the house

Power boards and fuses – Sometimes we end up plugging a lot of devices into one power strip. This can cause an overload in one phase and the safety switch trips, or you blow a fuse. When it is just a safety switch tripping, you could just unplug the appliance and turn the switch on again. With a blown fuse, it will need to be replaced, and it is better to call a professional to help you install it safely.

Faulty Circuit breaker and tripped switches – The circuit breaker is designed to trip when there is a high electrical demand, causing an overload on a system. When it trips, unplug all your devices. If it still keeps tripping, it could be a faulty circuit breaker. Call a professional electrician to have the switch(es) replaced, so that you know your home is safe. You could also test your Safety switches regularly. Most safety switches have a test button marked with a “T”. Press the button to see if the switch trips. If it does, the switch is fine.

With external causes, there isn’t much you can do except wait. Turn off the power supply to your home, or unplug all your appliances before the power supply resumes. When it does there could be an initial surge of electricity that could damage some appliances.

If the power outage is only at your home, try the basic checks with appliances and safety switches, but if that doesn’t work, call an emergency electrician to assist you and resolve the situation quickly. Quick Spark has licensed emergency electricians available any time you need them.

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