Why an Electric Power Surge Can Cause Problems

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Why are my electrical devices burning up instead of tripping the circuit breaker? Possible Causes of Power Surges and Spikes, How to Avoid Damage to Electrical Devices Caused by Voltage Surges or Spikes.

Burning Up Electric Devices

Electrical Question:Why are my electrical devices burning up instead of tripping the circuit breaker?

  • I have a 200 amp service running to my house, and in the box there is a double 30 breaker going to my brothers RV.
  • The RV circuit has been causing electric surges in my home and burning a lot of electrical devices out.
  • In the RV they are running an air conditioner, refrigerator, and television set and all their lights on the double 30 circuit breaker.
  • My question is why is it burning my stuff out instead of flipping the breaker that runs their RV?

Additional Comments: I just searched and found this because I was trying to fix my electrical problem once and for all because I’m tired of paying a bill and not being able to use anything for fear of it being fried.

Background: James, a Homeowner from Clay City, Kentucky.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question James.

Power Surges and Voltage Spikes

Application: Evaluating a Home Electric Service Panel for Causes of Power Spikes and Surges.
Skill Level: Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester and amp meter or load recorder.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and age of the electric service panel and the access to the circuits to be evaluated.
Precaution:  Working in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock.
Notice: Making changes to the Home Electrical Service Panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

How to Avoid Damage to Electrical Devices Caused by Power Surges or Voltage Spikes

  • As described in this question, even though there is a 30 amp 240 volt circuit for the trailer power there may be a great deal of the electrical loads at the trailer that are placed on one 120 volt lines that are creating an unbalanced load.
  • This can cause a surge to take place on that side of the circuit. In a case like this, if it is possible, it would be best to have some of the electrical devices in the trailer plugged into a different outlet that would be fed from the 120 volt line that is not loaded as much.
  • This is best revealed when an electrician takes electrical load measurements using a clamp on amperage meter to determine if the load is balanced or not.
  • The 30 amp 240 volt circuit that serves the RV and the home electrical wiring should be checked for loose connections and make sure that the wiring has been installed correctly according to code.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Why an Electric Power Surge Can Cause Problems”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Charles,
    This sounds like the electrical system has a problem where one connection may be lost.
    I would first contact the electrical utility company so they can check their side of your electrical service.
    Please see the following information:
    Lost or Partial Home Electrical Power.

    Why Outlets do Not Have Full Power.

    If the electrical utility service is OK then I would contact a licensed electrical contractor who can identify and repair the problem.

  2. charles fulks says:

    The power in one part of my house dies down and the other side surges at the same time,is it something in my breaker box or the transformer outside.


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