Given the number of power surges and electrical grid outages that have hit the country recently, surge protectors are vital.

If you are not already aware, a surge protector acts as a buffer between an electrical outlet and your devices.

When there is an electrical spike, your protector kicks in to prevent and power surge damage hitting your devices or setting your house on fire.

They are vital for the modern home, but that doesn’t mean they last forever. If you’re wondering how often to replace a surge protector, here’s everything you need to look out for.

Preventing Power Surge Damage: How Old is Your Surge Protector?

If you want to know the answer to how long do surge protectors last, the answer is hard to qualify.

While most surge protectors have a lifespan that is linked to their usage (more on that next), that doesn’t mean age shouldn’t be taken into account as well.

If you have a surge protector that is, say, several years old, then you definitely need to get a new one. There is no consensus on the shelf life of a surge protector, but the newer it is, the better it will work.

How Many ‘Hits’ Has it Gotten?

Anyone wondering how to tell is a surge protector is bad needs to consider how much it has had to perform its job.

A surge protector’s capacity is measured in joules, rather than years.

This is usually a completely fixed number, say 1000 joules. This is how much electricity the device can absorb before running out of steam.

For example, if your protector receives ten ‘hits’ of 100 joules, then it will be tapped out.

Check the Light

You might be able to tell when to replace surge protector simply by checking for a blinking light on the device. Not all surge protectors have these, but many modern ones have them as a standard feature.

Simply examine your surge protector to see if you can spot a red or green blinking light on the outside of the device.

Please note that this is not a foolproof system. Just because there is no flashing light does not always mean your device is fine. However, if it is flashing, you definitely need a new one.

Check Your Consumption Needs

The answer to the question “can a surge protector go bad?” is yes, especially if it is overloaded.

If you have a single surge protector standing between an electricity surge and 25 electrical devices, you could be asking for trouble.

There is no perfect ratio, but you should at least have a single protector for each individual room in your house.

Check Your Insurance

One thing that is worth noting is that many home insurance policies will NOT cover power surge damage if there is no surge protector in place.

Likewise, some insurance providers may even choose not to cover your losses if you are found to have been relying on an old, expired surge protector.

Home insurance depends on responsible homeowners. Cover your bases by keeping your surge protectors up-to-date.

Call an Electrician

If you’re dealing with faulty electrics, a surge protector will not save you. Make sure to call an expert electrician to get any malfunctioning electrics running smoothly again.