These days, most people rely on a steady electrical power supply in their homes and expect the lights, appliances and devices to work at the flip of a switch. However, power outages still occur and can leave homeowners wondering, “Why is my power out?” When the power grid fails in your area, and you lose power, it’s frustrating and can disrupt your regular activities. There are various causes of power outages, from weather events to equipment issues. Understanding these common causes can help you better prepare for when the power goes out.
Power outages happen when there is a disruption along the electricity delivery system, knocking out power to some or many customers. The power grid and electrical infrastructure includes power stations, transformers, overhead wires and buried power lines that distribute electricity to homes, businesses and other structures. Damage to any part of this system can lead to power failures. After a power outage, utility crews work diligently to restore power safely, but it can take hours or even days, depending on the severity of the problem.
In this blog, we’ll examine the most common causes of power outages and what’s involved in restoring power so you can better understand why you may lose power and what crews do to get things working again quickly and safely. Being informed on what causes your lights to go out will hopefully make power failures a little less frustrating when they do occur.
What causes power outages?
All of that is fully believable. But you might not quite believe that psychologists report that a power outage triggers a lot of mental angst and anxiety, causing stress, social isolation – and even a heightened risk of substance abuse! Blackouts and power outages don’t just make the TV go blank – they’re a big deal for people like you, and here at Your Electrical Expert, we take it all very seriously.
So today, we’re taking a correspondingly serious and thorough look at what causes power outages – and what to do when the power lines are out. Because in our experience, backed by the psychologists we just mentioned, becoming empowered about what causes a power outage and what to do when the power lines go out can go a long way to alleviating the stresses of an annoying and worrying blackout.
“No power in my house?” Here’s why:
Even your electricity provider will admit that power outages – or ‘blackouts’ as they became known during World War II – unfortunately happen quite a lot. And they can happen at any time. And they trigger your anxiety so easily because the cause can either be serious, expensive and lifestyle-smashing – or extremely simple and short-lived.
Has your power just gone out? The first thing to do is to breathe deeply – because, and don’t forget; it’s only ever a temporary cut in your indispensable electricity power supply. Whether it takes a minute or 5 hours, or even a couple of days, rest assured: your light bulbs will shine again! In some more relaxed households, a blackout is the perfect opportunity to forget about the TV for a while, pull out those candles, and enjoy a long and uninterrupted game of Monopoly.
But we get it – power outages are also stressful, and for good reason. However, there’s not really any reason to panic. The majority of blackouts are:
- A power line fault: When the power line is the culprit, what’s the point in worrying? Check with your neighbours to see if they’re dealing with exactly the same thing – and even take a walk or a local drive to see if you’re all in darkness. If you are, chill out! You’re all in this together.
- A brownout or ‘spike’: A brownout is when the voltage drops so low that the lights and appliances can’t keep up – and it’s usually the case for everyone around you, too. Don’t worry – it’ll come back on eventually. Check online with your 4G and charged mobile phone because your service provider is probably supplying helpful updates. A spike, meanwhile, is when the voltage zaps up too high, and that’s usually caused by lightning strikes, a tripped breaker or a short circuit.
- A blackout: That’s when the entire area you’re living in has completely lost power. Whether it’s a planned outage or lightning or a bushfire or something else has downed a line, or something else has gone badly wrong, don’t worry: service technicians are on the job.
No power in the house – Is it your fault?
Did you forget to pay that electricity bill and ignore the reminder letters? The good news is that is an easy fix – get in touch with your supplier and cough up the dough! And if you’re short of cash, the retailer can probably help you out by working with you to get those lights back on.
Also possible is that you haven’t called a pest controller for some time, and a possum has chewed through your wiring and caused a devastating short circuit. In this sort of case, you’ll be able to figure out if it’s a supplier problem or a ‘you problem’ by either seeing if the lights are on nearby in the street or knocking on the neighbours’ door for a chat.
If it’s a ‘you problem’, it could be:
- A tripped fuse: Did you plug something in when the power died? Oops – sounds like you’ve tripped a fuse. The good news is that your fuse box did what it should have by cutting the power to save your family a potential ‘zap’. If you’re lucky, flip the switch back on, and you’re good to go.
- A faulty circuit breaker: Is your power going out a lot? Sounds like that could be a problem with your circuit breaker, safety switch or RCD system – which is only trying to do its job to save you and your appliances from a major shock! If that happens, it is high time to consult an electrician for a switchboard repair and upgrade or the required attention to your overall power system to resolve the issue.
- Overloaded circuits: Are power boards that are fully subscribed to with power-hungry appliances scattered all over your house? The risk of overloads is particularly serious in smaller homes or apartments that may not have been designed for such power-hungry needs, but you can usually diagnose that by unplugging everything, switching the breakers back on, and gradually turning things back on.
What to do when the power goes out?
Oh no, not another blackout! Again, we know how stressful and annoying this is, and we know your first question is what to do in a power outage. Here’s what we recommend:
- Check online or get in touch with your retailer
- Keep your fridge & freezer doors closed
- Use hot water as little as possible, as the contents of your tank will stay warm for quite a while
- Do you have a backup plan for power-dependent pets (like tropical fish)?
- Call your friendly local electrician!
No power in the house? Give us a call!
Whether it’s day, night, a public holiday or even Christmas Day, Your Electrical Expert’s 24/7 emergency electrician line is always monitored! We understand exactly how stressful a sudden power outage is – and we also know exactly what needs to be done to bring your fridge, TV and toaster back to life asap! So the next time it goes dark in a sudden hurry, save all the stress – and instead call our friendly and fully-licensed electricians right here at Your Electrical Expert. We simply love to help!