How to Test an Electrical Outlet for Power Surges

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A surge protector in a power strip can protect many devices at once.
A surge protector in a power strip can protect many devices at once. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Power surges occur in almost every home. They often happen when lightning strikes nearby, the utility company powers up a generating plant, or a high-voltage appliance such as an air conditioner is turned off. Sometimes they are a result of defective electrical equipment in your home or on the power lines. They last just a fraction of a second, so they they are hard to detect. The best way to test an electrical outlet for power surges is with a surge protector.

Obtain a surge protector with an internal breaker. Most surge protectors are contained in power strips that have several plug sockets.

Plug the surge protector into the outlet. You do not have to plug in any appliances.

Check the surge protector periodically to see if the circuit breaker has tripped. Test it by plugging in an appliance to see if it gets power. If the appliance does not get power, it means there was a power surge to the outlet and the breaker tripped in the surge protector.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your home experiences frequent power surges, ask your electric company to come out and test your home. Usually there is no charge for this service, and they may be able to solve the problem with a simple fix.

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