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Why Is the Power Going Out?

– Contributed content –

Power lines

(Nicole Köhler, Pixabay)

22 May 2020. It’s no surprising statement to say that all of us who enjoy the comforts of modern life are relying on electricity in a big way. As such, when we lose it, there’s no denying we can spiral into something of a panic. If you’re experiencing problems with your power supply, you want to know what’s going wrong as soon as possible and what you can do about it. There is a range of potential causes to be aware of, and here, we’re going to look at some of the most common.

It’s a local problem

The first thing you should do when the power in your home goes out is to look at whether or not the same problem is affecting other buildings in the area. If you have phone internet access, you may even be able to check your local grid online for power outage reports. Blackouts and brownouts can happen for a range of reasons, such as storms, earthquakes, and things hitting the power lines like tree branches and animals. If you need a constant power supply to protect the home, then you should look at the prospect of installing a generator.

You should also look at any local works that might be going on. Underground cables can be distributed by digging as well. In fact, you can accidentally disturb your own power supply by doing something as simple as digging an irrigation track in your backyard. Another reason for local blackouts is due to high power demand. The overburdened electric cables and transformers can have components melt, as the high demand for power causes their parts to overheat. In cases like these, there is nothing to do but wait for the electric company to fix it and get it things up and running again.

You’ve fallen behind

It might be a little embarrassing to not realize that you haven’t paid your power bill in some time, but it does happen. When it does, your supplier is, at some point, going to turn off your supply. You need to keep up your scheduled payments to your power supplier or else your home could be at risk. If you are experiencing some financial hardships or simply forgot to make a payment, the best thing to do is reach out to the power company. You are going to have to pay your bill and catch up before they will turn off your power in most cases. However, you may be able to negotiate to get them to help out while you get back to your regular financial health.

If you have fallen behind on your bills due to an inability to pay, you want to catch up and make sure you stay up-to-date form now on. Create a budget, tracking your spending to find where you can save money, and decrease your expenses. Plan your way to catch up with the bills. After you have caught up, make sure that it doesn’t happen again by creating a household budget that you stick to each and every month. If you accidentally forget to pay a bill, you might want to switch to automatic billing or set an alarm for days in advance of the bill payments to make sure you have and send the money.

An error on your supplier’s side

Sometimes, power suppliers will make mistakes that could lead to your power getting cut. For instance, they may have accidentally mixed your customer records up with another. As such, if another customer has been late on their bills or moved house and informed the electric company, they can end up accidentally shutting your power off. For that reason, be sure to call your electric company before you break out the torch and look at your own electrical system.

There are also other reasons that a power company may intentionally turn off your power, however. It’s not always due to late bill payments or the like. For instance, there have been records of companies shutting off the powers for thousands of customers in order to prevent starting fires if there are dangerous local weather events. For instance, if they are worried that high winds and droughts could lead to tree debris catching fire, then starting a wildfire, they may opt to turn off the power instead.

There has been a tripped fuse

If your home is only one in the area that doesn’t have power and you’ve definitely kept up with your power bills and checked with the power company, then it’s likely to be an internal problem. However, it might not actually be a problem with the electric system in itself. The first place to look is at your fuse box. If the power goes off immediately after you turn on an appliance or device that takes electric power, then it’s likely that you have tripped a fuse. Fuse boxes are designed to cut the power when they sense something wrong in the supply chain. It’s a safety feature to keep you and your home protected. You might want to unplug the appliance that caused the issue to see if there’s a problem with it (it might just have been plugged in incorrectly.)

Otherwise, you can just flip the fuse switch back on and everything should be good. If it keeps tripping randomly, that’s something else you should take the time to investigate, however. The cause might something like a ground fault or something internal, like the issues we will go into below.

Your circuit breaker has gone bad

If it’s not one of the issues mentioned above, then it’s more likely that the problem is going to be with your own electrical system in the home. The most likely place to find these issues is going to be in your own circuit breakers. A bad circuit breaker can cut off the power and lead to real hazards in the home. Most of the time, circuit breakers go bad to general wear and tear over time. As such, it’s important to have your breakers inspected around once a year if possible and to clean the dust around the breakers once in a while. Otherwise, you can end up paying for an expensive replacement.

If your circuit breaker has gone bad beyond repair, then it may be time to look into replacing it. With some qualified help, this isn’t as difficult as you might expect. You don’t need to replace the whole system in most cases, just the breaker.

You have way too many power strips with way too many things plugged in

If you’re looking to power more appliances, especially in a home that doesn’t have too many power outlets, then you are likely to use power strips (also known as a power adapter or power boards) to increase the number of objects you can power at once. However, there is a limit to how many power boards you can use. They’re not designed to be used in every room of the house and every socket in every room. That’s going to overload your power supply and, when that happens, this can lead to a power outage.

When overloading happens, the electrical current is increased, which can increase the heat of the wiring that goes through the electrical system. The temperature can increase to a dangerous level. It might simply cause the power to go out, but it can also be a significant fire hazard. This is especially true of when the heat causes surrounding insulation to melt.

So, what should you do in the event of a blackout?

If your power is going out, then you need to systematically go through the checklist of potential causes and tick them off one by one. If you start fussing around with your circuit breaker before you’re sure that it’s a problem with the home’s electrical system, it can result in a costly call-out for no reason.

The first thing to do is to look around the local neighborhood, if you can, to see if other homes and buildings have been affected. If there are no homes you can see around you, then you should go online or phone to report a power cut. If you call your electric provider during a power cut, you are likely to spend a long time on hold, as other customers are likely to be doing the same. If it’s only affecting your home, then you should get in touch to see if it’s a billing problem or an error. After that, you should inspect the causes within the home. It’s best to do it with the help of a professional, of course.

In short: if your power goes out, you should wait a while to make sure it’s an area problem and not a problem centralized in your own home. If it is your home at issue, however, then you should act to fix it as quickly as possible. Electrical issues can lead to fire hazards, so they must be solved ASAP with the help of a professional.

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