Do you have any new appliances with fancy digital displays? You could be in for some expensive repairs unless you protect them with “point-of-use” surge suppression. Small internal power surges in your home’s electrical system occur every time you turn on or shut off devices with motors, such as power tools, vacuum cleaners and hair dryers. These small voltage spikes can wreck the sensitive electronic circuitry in programmable appliances such as ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers and dryers.
The best way to protect your appliances from internal voltage spikes is to invest in high-quality point-of-use surge protectors. (To protect appliances from external voltage spikes, install a whole-house surge protector at the circuit breaker panel.) Rather than using bulky surge protector strips behind appliances, follow our tips and swap out the existing electrical receptacles behind your appliances for surge suppression receptacles. (Electric ranges require an independent 240-volt circuit, so they’re usually protected from in-house surges.)
Some types of surge protection receptacles (available at electrical supply houses and online retailers) have a signal to alert you when they’re no longer providing surge protection and need to be replaced (surge suppressors do wear out). To install the surge protector, disconnect the power to the existing receptacle and use a non-contact voltage tester to make sure the power is off. Remove the cover plate and the screws that hold the receptacle in the box. Gently pull the receptacle out from the wall. If the wires are “stabbed” into the back, clip the wire ends. Use a wire stripper to remove the insulation from the last 1/2 in. of the wires. Insert each wire into the appropriate hole in the new receptacle and tighten the terminal screws securely. Wrap the end of the bare copper or green wire (ground) around the green screw and tighten. Gently push the outlet back into the box and tighten the mounting screws. Replace the cover plate, restore the power and check to see that the green LED is lit.