6 Common Causes of Power Outages

causes of power outages

It’s estimated that each year the average person experiences seven hours worth of power outages in the United States. Even the quickest type of power outage can be a minor inconvenience.

However, if they happen in the hottest or coldest months, they have the potential to be deadly. If you live in an area that experiences frequent outages, you’re likely curious about what causes them.

In this guide, we’ll be covering six common causes of power outages and what you can do to protect against them.

1. Severe Weather

Severe weather causes the most common types of power outages. One of the reasons for this is the diversity of different damage-causing weather types out there. Lightning can strike trees, which brings down power lines.

Pouring rain can cause mudslides and floods that damage power infrastructure. And both extreme heat and cold harm the electrical components that keep the grid running smoothly.

And that’s not even counting natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Sadly, power outages from severe weather aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

Studies show that weather events are becoming more severe due to climate change. As such, we can expect more power outages in the future because of them.

2. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are also a common cause of power outages. This typically occurs when a driver has been drinking or driving on slippery roads. If the car skids out of control, it has the potential to crash into a utility line.

This, in turn, brings down the power lines which causes an outage. The good news is that motor vehicle accident outages are usually on a local level. So you’ll only be affected if your property is found in the immediate area.

3. Failure of Electrical Equipment

The equipment responsible for bringing us electricity isn’t perfect. Time, or exposure to the elements, can cause these components to break down. For example, insulators are particularly prone to corrosion.

The insulation on cables cracks open over time, which causes lines to snap. Lastly, every transformer will eventually fail. Ideally, the electric company will replace these components before they break.

However, power distribution is a complex system. As such, it’s not uncommon for components to break down before their life expectancy is up.

4. Wildlife

Wildlife like squirrels, birds, and small mammals can also cause power outages. These animals are drawn to power infrastructure for a variety of reasons. They might be attracted to the worth and glow of electricity.

They can knock down important components while looking for food. Or chew through power lines to make a nest. If you notice animals making nests around power lines, you should contact your electric company as soon as possible.

5. High Energy Demand

Have you ever noticed the power going out on a perfectly nice Summer day? These types of unexpected outages aren’t related to the weather or components, but rather to the demand for energy.

On hot days, it’s more common for people to run their air conditioning units at a higher level.

And if everyone is using their AC, it can begin to put intense demands on the electrical grid. In places like New York City or other urban areas, this can lead to blackouts and brownouts when the system is overloaded.

6. Powerline Damage

Powerline damage can often come from preventable human activity. One of the more common forms is construction. Careless construction companies might not survey the ground before digging into it.

The same goes for landscapers and excavators. If they hit an underground line, it could cause a power outage.

The same goes for construction equipment that accidentally hits utility lines. Even something as simple as yard work or vandalism can also result in powerline damage.

What Should You Do If the Power’s Out?

If your power went out, the first thing you should do is report it to the electric company. That way, they can work to fix it as soon as possible. Make sure to keep your fridge closed to preserve any cold air for as long as possible.

If it’s hot outside, consider taking a cold shower to cool off. For cold weather, bundle up to stay warm until the heat comes back on.

How Can You Prepare for the Causes of Power Outages?

Sadly, many of the causes of power outages are simply unpreventable. If there are large trees on your property that are near power lines, then you can cut them. However, there’s nothing you can do about trees off your property.

The same thing goes for things like severe weather, motor vehicle accidents, and high energy demands. The good news is that there are things you can do to prepare for these inevitable power outages.

One of the most practical options is to get a generator installed. These devices kick in when the power goes out. For starters, they prevent your food from going bad.

During cold or warm weather, they’ll keep your HVAC system running to protect you from the elements. Generators are essential if you have life-sustaining medical devices in your house.

However, if you can’t afford a generator, there are other practical things you can do to prepare for a power outage. Make sure you have a supply of candles and flashlights on hand for seeing in the dark.

If you live in a cold environment, sleeping bags and weather-proof blankets are a must.

Lastly, make sure you have some emergency canned food options that you can make without the help of electricity. That way, you’ll have food if your fridge doesn’t turn back on in time.

Need Generator Installation? Contact Parkin Electric

We hope this guide has helped you learn more about the common causes of power outages. As you can see, occasional power outages are inevitable. However, with things like a standalone generator, you can protect against these power disruptions.

Here at Parkin Electric, we’re a third-generation company that has decades of experience with generator installation. So if you’re curious about generators, or need help with any sort of electrical service, we can help.

Contact us today so you’ll have plenty of power to get through the next outage.

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N. Schaefle

We Thank you for the work that was done to get power to our garage/shop area and wanted you to know that it was a pleasure to work with Mike.  He was considerate and easy to have here… he did his job carefully and cleaned up where he worked.. He certainly is competent!

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Just wanted to let you know Ben was great. He was professional and personable and helpful with showing us how things worked. I can't remember the name of the other guy (Cristian) but he was great too and they did a great job and cleaned up the area where the generator is. And of course we were so impressed with Tammy and appreciated her help, with our somewhat drawn out process. Very impressed with the service at Parkin.

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