How To Tell If A Surge Protector Is Bad: 5 Simple Tests

How to Tell If a Surge Protector is Bad

How do you tell if a surge protector is bad? That’s a good question because unless you have some experience in this area, it can be hard to tell if your surge protector is doing its job. A surge protector often looks like just another power strip, so how do you know if it’s still functioning correctly? We’ll take a look at how you can test the effectiveness of your surge protector and whether or not it needs to be replaced. Don’t worry if you read this How to Tell If a Surge Protector is bad article, you will get a good solution.

Not all surge protectors are created equal. You might think you’re getting the same product, and the same protection, from two different brands. But that’s not always true. So how can you tell if your surge protector is bad? It’s better to be safe than sorry — especially when it comes to surges. With these simple five tests, you can easily tell if your surge protector is bad or not.

1. The Power Indicator Light

One of the most important things to check when you get a new appliance is the power indicator light. It’s the little light that lets you know whether or not an appliance is properly plugged into the wall. If the switch is on, then the light should be on. If it’s off, it should be off.

But there’s more to it than lights. On many appliances that use a 30 amp circuit, there’s a symbol on the side that says “single phase.” This means that there’s only one electrical conductor in the circuit. Assuming the appliance isn’t plugged into a circuit with a 240-volt AC voltage (that’s the kind most appliances use), a single-phase outlet will be able to supply a higher load current than a dual-phase outlet.

As energy quickly becomes a resource, it’s important to know where exactly it comes from. To find out, you’ll need to know what kind of energy gets deliveration to a circuit. For a typical 60-amp circuit, the energy deliveration to the appliance will be 120-volts AC. (Remember to change the numbers and draw your conclusions.) If you’re using a 40-amp circuit — which is what you’ll find on most of the appliances we’re going to discuss — the energy delivered will be 240-volts DC.

For The Best Surge Protectors

For surge protectors, the symbol you’ll find on the side is “Single Phase, 30 amp.” This means that it’s able to handle a 60-amp circuit and a 240-volt AC. When switched into automatic (usually) or manual (on some 12v amps) mode, it will deliver a 30 amp current to the appliance. So for most appliances, leaving an old surge protector in automatic or manual mode will be enough to protect against damage or do surge protectors go bad.

But there are a few appliances that the surge protector can’t safely handle. They don’t have a single-phase outlet. And they have an outlet that only supplies a 120-volt AC (like the ones found in appliances like coffee maker, range, and some blenders).

2. The Surge Protector Is Hot To The Touch

People are often very concerned about corrosion when it comes to surges. Given that there’s nearly a pound of silicon in each surge protector, it’s only natural to assume a higher likelihood of corrosion with increased size and heavier gauge parts. But are all surge protectors made the same? Not all of them. Consider a few popular brands, and how they stack up.

Aquamist: There’s not much to be concerned about with this toy. I can certainly imagine that this would cause a spike in some users’ heads if used under certain conditions. But as long as it stays in its wrapped state and its container, I can’t see too many issues here.

Corsair: Corsair’s HDPE surge protectors have a higher likelihood of warpage (a build-up of liquid or liquid leaked into the tube due to excessive force. This will cause the plastic in the tube to weaken, and if it connects enough times, it could crack the tubing. Sometimes this can be fixed, but not always.

Norton: These are very tough compared to other brands that might be considered to be comparable. That said, the fast-charge functions and the polymer used to mean the tube must be placed in a confined space that would normally be far too small to allow for your typical impact. Also, I’d be cautious if you’re charging while the tube is still full, as it could short-circuit.

Protection Type: The surge protector’s protection type is also a big factor. Simple plastic tubes are best if you’re going to be charging from a battery pack or access port. Stainless steel ones always make sense, and they’re an absolute necessity if you have regular access to a hole or opening to a circuit.

3. Only Unplug One Electrical Device At A Time

Only unplug one electrical device at a time. It is possible that the circuit breaker tripped or the GFCI outlet is defective. If you plug the device into a different outlet and it works, then the problem is with the original outlet. Turn on the damaged device (in this case, the computer) and allow it to power on. The computer should not need power right away — to let it get back up and running properly.

Shut off the original surge protector in the circuit instead of plugging it in. This will allow you to see if the surge protector is still at full power. An empty GFCI outlet should automatically turn off when plugged into a circuit. If the GFCI outlet is still on, the surge protector is not working properly or do power strips go bad.

So, what does all this mean? According to NHTSA, surge protectors are usually made with materials that prevent shock and rapid current flow under extreme conditions. Unfortunately, damage to the surge suppressor can allow current to flow during accidental, unattended power outages. If you notice that a surge protector is swollen, the easiest thing to do is to bring it to an electronics store for repairs.

If you have a GFCI outlet at home, you might be asking, “Why did I need an uninterruptible power supply anyway?” The simple answer: the uninterruptible power supply allows your devices to safely turn off every once in a while. This includes all your devices in the case of a power outage and even electronic devices such as tripods. For more on the benefits of an NEC, check out the YouTube video below, and/or read this FTC publication.

4. Use a Multimeter To Check For Voltage Leaks

Using a multimeter is one of the easiest ways to test for voltage leaks. A multimeter is an instrument that measures voltage, resistance, and electric current. You can get an inexpensive multimeter at an electronics store. It will have some controls on it that you can use to test for leaks.

Also, a Dupont wall receptacle will commonly have a small breaking gauge wire coming from the center to each side. That’s why you see warning labels on the sides of the receptacle. So whether you’re trying to use your surge protector between two outlets or utility strips, most electricians will recommend that you wear safety glasses, protective clothing, and a grounding belt when you are testing your surge protector.

Does the continuity test show an open circuit between rooms in your house?

If your multimeter shows less than 0.5 amps or more than 0.9 amps, you might show evidence that one room in your house might be slightly hotter than another. For the continuity test, simply open one of the switches on your breaker panel (or one of the three sockets on your circuit breakers). Then, in the dead zone of the breaker, hang a light fixture above it and barely make eye contact with the bulb.

If the circuit is open, make sure you switch it back off and leave the breaker panel for at least a few seconds so there’s enough time for the little breaker to reset. Doing this test a couple of times should show that the rooms should be adequately safe from dangerous ambient temperatures.

Also, Don’t forget to check my how to reset a sump pump article

How to Tell if a Power Strip Has Surge Protection

As you’re doing this test, make note of what room on the breaker panel you’re in. Then, make note of how hot/cold it feels. Try to feel the temperature via touch before deciding that the room is unsafe. If you’re feeling a lot hotter, that might mean that the door or window wasn’t closed enough. Your clothes might be too warm, and you might not have properly dried off.

5. Check Your Electrical Outlets For Signs of Damage

Most homes have electrical outlets, and they can be a source of danger. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical hazards account for about 20,000 residential fires every year, along with 100 deaths and $400 million in property damage. This doesn’t even account for all of the injuries and property damage caused by electrical issues. Surge protectors come in several different amounts, from the basic $9.99 one to the rather pricey $99.99 SP100. The SP100 is such a plainly label item, it’s easy to confuse it for a Newer technology surge protector. But a bad one is still just a cheap, flimsy piece of plastic.

How to Tell If Your Surge Protector is Bad: Is it Protecting Your Electronics?

If you want more protection, it pays to look for a more discretion Surge Protector. For example, a good surge protector (newer models, at least) will have a letter or symbol on the outside to indicate it’s protective. And while that sounds like a good place to start, it shouldn’t be the only criteria for picking one.

If you require a surge protector for your home, it’s best to stay away from one with the word Phoenix written on the side — SP100 in this case. Just because you can buy it doesn’t mean it’s good. The interior wall is the only place a surge protector is required to go inside the wall. According to the American Wire Gauge Association (AWA) and the Federal Wire Protection Association (FWPAA), it should be 3/8″ from the wall.

It’s a general rule of thumb to pick up hardware after the wall joists have opened up (Figure 1). A good surge protector will catch items as they move through the system before they reach the wall. Bad surge protectors will catch things after they’ve already passed through the system.

The thickness of the pop can dictate how big of an opening there should be on the wall. If the pop can have a thicker pop can, the opening goes all the way through the wall. And if it’s thick, it will catch items that move before they hit the wall (Figure 2).

You can read my How To Remove The Metal Part Of A Light Bulb article

In Conclusion:

You can easily tell if your surge protector is bad or not by following these five simple tests and tips. A bad or poorly design surge protector can be dangerous, but you can easily tell if yours is doing its job by doing these five simple tests.  So, I hope that you have got more information on the topic of how to tell if a surge protector is bad.

Not all surge protectors are alike, which means you have to do your due diligence when shopping around for one that will work. Use these five tips to make sure the next one you buy won’t let you down!

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