Is your surge protector over two years old? Time to replace it

March 21, 2022 by PEMCO Insurance
If the surge protector you’re using for electronics like your computer, TV and programmable devices is more than two years old, it’s time to replace it. That’s because surge protectors degrade with every power surge they silently fend off. The older they are, the more hits they’ve taken and the less capacity they have to handle future surges. 

Utilities experts suggest two years as a safe replacement interval for most protectors. If there’s been a big hit to the power in your neighborhood (like lightning blowing out a transformer down the street), replace your surge protectors immediately. It may have wiped out most of the surge protectors’ capacity, and you risk damage the next time a power surge happens.

What needs a surge protector? 

Maybe more devices than you think. In addition to electrical lines, power surges can enter homes through cable, satellite and even landline telephone connections. Connect a surge protector to devices including:
  • cable and satellite TV boxes
  •  computer and home office equipment
  • programmable appliances 
  • home security systems.
Besides having standard outlets, higher-end surge protectors may include USB ports, coaxial outlets and Ethernet jacks.

Is a power strip the same as a surge protector?

Not necessarily. A power strip can be just an extension cord with extra outlets. While surge protectors are usually combined with power strips, not all power strips are surge-protected. Besides price (surge protectors cost more), here are a couple of ways to tell if your devices truly are connected to a surge protector: 
  • Indicator light. In addition to a light (often the switch) that shows it’s on, a surge protector will have indicator lights, usually green, and marked “grounded” and “protected.” If you see them but they’re not lit up, the surge protector may have taken too many hits and is no longer able to protect your devices. (Don’t rely on the lights to try to stretch the two-year replacement interval, though. They can remain on with diminished protective capability left.)
  • Protection wording. Check to see if your strip has printing on the bottom that refers to “suppression” or “protection.” If you still have the packaging it came in, look for references to “joule energy ratings.”

How do surge protectors work?

Surge protectors shield your devices from sudden spikes in electrical current. They divert excess voltage either back into the system or to the ground. There are two types: point-of-use protectors (that protect individual devices from low-level internal fluctuations) and whole-house protectors (installed at your meter by a licensed electrician or your utility company) to guard against big external power surges. Ideally you’ll have both, since they offer different kinds of protection.

Does PEMCO cover power surges?

Your homeowners or renter policy covers many perils, including lightning, that cause electronics-damaging power surges. Something to note: Losses from power surges, like most claims, are subject to your policy’s deductible and would eliminate any claim-free discount on your policy. The extent of the damage suffered determines whether a making a claim is worth it. 

As a preventive measure, we always recommend you unplug sensitive electronics as part of your windstorm preparedness plan when potentially damaging weather is in the forecast.

Wondering what else to do when the power goes out? Check out three things to know before the next power outage.

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