If you haven’t been around when a transformer blows, it can be a frightening experience. Not only do they make a lot of noise, but you may also see a fireball and a lot of smoke. They can be dangerous if not handled appropriately, and your power service will be interrupted until it’s replaced.
Here’s what happens if a transformer blows, and what to do if it happens near you in Upland, CA.
How transformers function
When a power plant generates electricity, it often does so in extremely large amounts. The electricity has to travel down power lines to get to homes and businesses—but the voltage is still too powerful to travel directly into the buildings. Transformers (drum-like objects mounted on or near electric poles) help step the voltage down so it can safely enter buildings.
Why transformers blow out
There are a number of different situations that could cause a transformer to blow:
- Lightning strikes: If lightning hits a transformer, that additional voltage will usually exceed the capacity a transformer is designed to handle. Some power companies will shut off their transformers when lightning occurs.
- Outdated transformers: Transformers usually only last 20 to 30 years. As their wiring deteriorates, they’re less able to handle the intense electrical demands, and as our need for electricity increases, they’re more prone to blowouts.
- Wiring problems: Even new wiring can suffer damage, corrosion or poor installation. Like outdated wiring, the transformer is unable to handle the electricity appropriately. It can blow and then need to be replaced.
- Power surges: Power surges will also put a bigger strain on a transformer, especially if other transformers in the area have already blown. You’re more likely to see a transformer blow if there are power surges occurring.
- Moisture: As you know, water and electricity do not mix. When moisture gets inside a transformer box, it can cause the transformer to blow.
- Critters and foreign objects: Finally, insects, rodents and foreign objects can sometimes make their way into transformer boxes, which will cause them to fail.
What to do if a transformer blows
If a transformer near you has blown out, be sure you stay away, and keep your family (especially children or pets) away, too. Transformers and any downed power lines can be extremely dangerous.
After you verify the blown transformer’s location, call your power company right away. Go back inside your building and use either backup power generators or flashlights and candles to see. If you have refrigerators and freezers, try not to open them until after the power comes back on. Food can quickly thaw and spoil, so it’s best to keep your fridge and freezer interiors as cool as possible until the power can be restored.
Understanding why power transformers blow is useful, but knowing what to do if it happens is even more important in Upland, CA. Since blown-out transformers are hazardous, it’s important you stay safe and let the professionals handle it.
For essential electrical services, Ham’s Electric, Inc. can help. Call today to learn more.