Sensitive electronic equipment in your home, like DVD/DVRs, computers, TVs, microwaves and stereos, are easily damaged or destroyed by short bursts of high voltage known as spikes.
Even if the device is not immediately affected, damage may have occurred. This damage could cause the unit to malfunction and even fail at some point in the future, a condition known as electronic rust.
Motors on sump pumps, well pumps, and air conditioner compressors can suffer electrical damage from high voltage spikes or long periods of very low voltage. A high voltage spike can stop a motor with no apparent outward cause. Low voltage can cause the motor to slowly burn up, which you will probably notice from the smell of burnt insulation and wiring.
The leading cause of high-voltage spikes is lightning. Strikes can carry voltage in excess of a million volts and thousands of amps of current. Little wonder that a television or DVR comes out on the losing end. The amount of lightning your home may experience depends upon where you live.
In Florida, residents experience thunder and lighting nearly one third of the year, while the residents of Seattle will hear that rumble only a few times a year. Studies show that for every thunderstorm day, there are approximately two lightning strikes per square mile.
Switching spikes can originate inside your home as well. Appliances like refrigerators, furnaces, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and even electric hand tools can all cause switching spikes. These spikes are similar to lightning strikes ... only much, much smaller. But what they lack in size they make up for in frequency. Over a period of time the small but continuously occurring spikes will slowly wear out electronic equipment.