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5 Most Common Reasons for Power Outages at Home

The most common reasons for power outages are weather, human error, equipment failure, high energy demand, and issues caused by wildlife and vegetation. Any one of these issues can cause power outages in your home and neighborhood. 

Homeowners in Harford County may be curious about the most common reasons for power outages. They may also wonder what to do once the power outage is already here. 

JPS Electrical experts have all the information you need on power outages, their causes, and how to handle them. Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Power Outage?

A power outage is what happens when an electrical supply is lost. Power outages have different names, such as power failures, blackouts, or brownouts, but fundamentally they all mean the same thing. 

During power outages, homes will lose the ability to connect to any electricity. This can be annoying at best, and disastrous at worst. Most power outages are only a few hours long, but during some severe storms and natural disasters, people have lost their power for up to a week. 

5 Most Common Reasons for Power Outages

The five most common reasons for power outages are weather, human error, equipment failure, high energy demand, and problems. caused by wildlife and vegetation. While other reasons exist for power failures, these are the ones that most frequently occur. 

We will discuss them in greater detail here: 

  1. Severe Weather

Severe weather is one of the leading causes of power outages. Lightning storms, snow storms, wildfires, and natural disasters alike wreak havoc on powerlines and grids which can cause a major loss of power. 

  1. Human Error

Human error, such as car collisions with powerlines, excavation digging, and vandalism, is another common cause of power outages. In the case of an accident, a car may hit a powerline and damage it severely, causing a wide area to lose power. 

  1. Equipment Failure

Electrical equipment used in powerlines, electrical grids, and other electrical equipment can occasionally fail and break as well. This equipment is generally very well monitored and maintained, but issues can arise that were otherwise unseen. 

Internal power outages in single homes can happen via equipment failure as well. This can happen by faulty circuit breakers or a tripped fuse. Fuse boxes have safety features built within them to shut off power if a surge is detected. 

  1. High Energy Demand

High energy demand by an area can cause power failures; such as during a heat wave, too many people blasting their AC at once can cause an overload and then a resulting power outage. 

On a smaller and internal level, you can cause a power failure in your own home by overloading power boards. Powerboards are not meant to power your entire house, and you should unplug any devices when you aren’t using them. 

  1. Wildlife and vegetation 

Power outages are commonly caused by fallen trees on power equipment, and animals like squirrels chewing through cables. Especially in more rural areas, this is a prevalent cause of loss of power. During harsh storms, watch out for falling trees and the damage they may cause. 

Tips for Power Outages

There are some important tips to remember during power outages, such as keeping freezers and refrigerators closed, disconnecting appliances, and more. Learn all about the ways to keep you and your loved ones safe during a power outage with our handy tips. 

  • Disconnect appliances. When power comes back on, it can create power surges that are damaging to TVs and other electrical appliances. Disconnecting them instead helps protect them. 
  • Do not use a stove or oven to heat your home. Gas stoves and ovens also produce carbon monoxide, and as shared above you do not want it in your home. 
  • Plan an alternative option for powering medical devices. If you are someone who relies on electrically powered medical devices, plan ahead for power outages by purchasing either batteries or power banks so you are not left without your device. 
  • Find a community center with power if heat or cold is intolerable. 


Power outages have common causes, and understanding why they happen can help you prepare for the worst. Taking adequate precautions and actions during a power outage can help you navigate the challenge until your power is back on. 

For those in Harford County and the Greater Baltimore area, JPS Electrical is there to help you with all your electrical needs. Call us at (410)656-4311 or contact us online for answers to any of your questions.  

JPS Electrical’s services include residential electrical inspections, installations, maintenance plans, repairs, and more for those in Baltimore County. See our website today for a free estimate

Frequently Asked Questions

What could make electricity go on and off?

Power changes and surges can be caused by many different things, with severe weather, human error, wildlife issues, equipment failure, and high energy demand being the most common. 

Why should I turn off my AC when the power is out? 

You should turn off your AC unit when the power goes out. When the power comes back on, there’s the chance of an electrical surge that could damage the unit, and keeping the unit shut off will protect it from this risk. 

How long do circuit breakers last?

Circuit breakers typically last around 30-40 years, but this is dependent on the quality of the breaker and how well you maintain and care for it.