What Causes Power Outages in Homes?


Power outages are a frustrating but unavoidable part of life. Power outages can cause all types of disruptions, especially in today’s society, where technology is closely integrated with everybody’s life. Beyond just electrical systems, power outages can also interrupt running water, hot water, and air conditioning systems.

Power outages that last more than 36 hours can quickly get dangerous, cutting you and your family off from the outside world. Power outages occur for a wide variety of reasons, each of which impacts how long repairs will take. Consult with electricians to ensure all your home’s electronics and fixtures are working after a power outage.

Let’s learn about the eight common causes of power outages in homes:

1. Storms

If you’re wondering what causes power outages in homes, storms are one of the most common yet unexpected causes. While power systems are designed to withstand intense weather, sometimes a storm reaches a level where no amount of protection is adequate. Storms can send ice and debris flying at high velocity, which can potentially damage active systems.

Extreme wind speeds during a storm can destroy the local environment, which interferes with the normal operation of the power systems. Investing in an emergency generator is a worthwhile precaution, especially if you live somewhere prone to severe weather.

2. Trees

Fallen trees are another common cause of power outages in homes. In addition to storms, homeowners are also commonly responsible for improperly cutting down a tree, which then falls and causes a power outage. Chopping a tree down is extremely dangerous. Even trained professionals have a hard time ensuring the tree falls in the direction they want.

Anytime a tree comes into contact with a power line, interruptions are going to occur in the local area. If you need to remove a tree, look at the services offered by your municipality or consider hiring a professional.

3. Construction Work

Ongoing construction projects can also cause unexpected power interruptions. It’s common for underground cables to get disrupted by excavation digging. Errors that occur when working with heavy machinery are usually severe and require time to resolve. Sometimes, even homeowners are guilty of digging too deep and disrupting a power line. Construction work also regularly involves scheduled outages which protect the safety of the construction crew. These scheduled outages may be frustrating for homeowners, but they ensure the projects are completed safely.

4. Power Spikes

When demand for power suddenly increases, outages may occur. During heat waves or extremely cold days, power demand can become intense as people look for ways to cope with the weather. A modern example of this is the mass power outage in the state of Texas in February 2021. Due to three unexpected and rare cold-weather storms, demand for power was higher than the state’s power grid was able to supply.

During these times of high demand, cables, transformers, and other essential equipment can overheat and fail. When using candles to light your home during these times, make sure you use proper candle holders to reduce the risk of starting a fire.

5. Animals

Wild animals play a common role in what causes power outages in homes. Sometimes the barriers between the electrical equipment and the access points for animals fail. Animals touching the machinery can cause shorts that result in power outages. Squirrels, raccoons, and birds are some of the most common animals that cause power outages. Research estimates that animals cause between 10-20% of power outages in homes.

6. Mistakes

Human error can also cause power outages to occur in your home. It’s possible for a city worker to make an error on the job that results in a temporary outage. Homeowners are also guilty of occasionally making mistakes that disrupt power in their neighbourhood. Anytime someone is working with a ladder or digging a hole, these errors can occur.

Even traffic accidents can cause power outages if a car hits and damages a piece of equipment. Because the causes of power outages are so random and varied, it’s important to keep flashlights, matches, and canned goods on hand in case of an extended outage.

7. Broken equipment

Even if you live in a good city and a good neighbourhood, you can still sometimes experience outages due to equipment failure. The equipment used to provide power to our cities is complicated and requires regular maintenance. Issues with transformers, switches, connectors, and more are part of what causes power outages in homes. In these situations, the only thing you can do is wait for a city crew to analyze and fix the error.

8. Transmission Failure

Certain power structures are built specifically to transfer power to other parts of the country. Issues that occur at these structures can result in transmission failure, which prevents power from being sent across the country. Transmission failures are less common than other types of outages, but their impact is felt for long periods.

These types of power systems are connected across many states and provinces, so outages can be quite significant. The possibility of a transmission failure occurring again highlights the importance of preparing a survival kit to get you through the outage.


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