3 Reasons Power Strips Stop Working (Explained)

Power strips are great at allowing us to plug in multiple devices from the same outlet. The ability to do this means that we can have our TV, games consoles, and stereo all connected in the same place.

However, if your power strip has stopped working then that convenience goes out the window.

In this article, you can get to grips with the reasons why your power strip is no longer providing your devices with the energy they need.

A burnt power strip melted plastic for electrocution danger .

Your Power Strip Is Overloaded

If your power strip has stopped working it may be because it has shut itself off because it is overloaded.

Power strips have a maximum amount of wattage that they can handle. Different power strips will have differing capacities.

Whether you have a 12 amp power strip or a 15 amp, it’s crucial to understand how much your particular power strip can handle.

To ensure you do not overload your powers strip (and prevent it from working) you need to understand the following terms:

  1. Watts
  2. Amps
  3. Volts

The smart folks at Racksolutions.com came up with a simple way to imagine how these three terms work together.

By comparing these terms to the idea of water flowing through pipes you can quickly get to grips with how watts, amps, and volts work together:

  • Imagine that watts is all the water that flows through a pipe.
  • Then understand that you can measure the speed at which the water travels in amps.
  • Finally, imagine that volts is the pressure of the water in the pipe.

If you want to work out how much wattage your particular power strip is capable of handling then you need to following sum:

  • Volts x Amps = Watts

For example, a 15 amp power strip connected to a 240-volt circuit will handle 3600 watts.

If you have appliances connected to your power strip that exceeds the total amount of watts your power strip can handle then you will have overloaded your power strip – we’ll get into why that’s a very bad idea soon.

First of all, it is important to understand how easy it is to overload your power strip if you are not aware of what amount of wattage your devices use.

It may surprise you to know that even small appliances, such as a kettle use far more wattage than you think.

Always check each specific device to understand whether plugging it into your power strip will overload it.

If your power strip is overloaded then the following could happen:

  1. Your power strip switches off and won’t switch back on.
  2. Your powers stip turns off and then turns back on whilst shutting off power to some of the devices that are connected.
  3. Your power strip becomes damaged and could also damage appliances and devices that are connected.

An overloaded power strip is not merely an inconvenience – it is an extreme safety risk.

Although, as stated above, some power strips can power off if they detect they are overloaded (using an internal circuit breaker), some will not.

An overloaded power strip can cause electrical fires if power is not shut down during a surge.

If that happens you have a much bigger problem than your power strip no longer working.

To prevent the chance of overloading your power strip make the calculations for your devices and specific power strip, but also take heed of the following advice:

  1. Choose the right appliances.
    • Lower wattage devices are what your power strip is designed for – chargers, computers, lamps, etc.
  2. Buy a power strip that has an internal circuit breaker to help ensure that if it does become overloaded by accident, that accident does not turn into a disaster.
  3. Do not ‘daisy chain’ your power strip as this will complicate your calculations for overloading your power strip and again could lead to an electrical fire.
  4. If your power strip feels hot to the touch then it is likely to be overloaded. Immediately sever the connection to the power outlet. Don’t take the risk, it’s simply not worth it.
  5. Avoid connecting the high wattage devices to your power strip.
    • Toasters, microwaves, and kettles, all fall under this category.
    • Items such as slow cookers are also not a great idea due to the extended period of time that they need to have access to continual power.

If you suspect that your power strip is not working because it is overloaded then start by disconnecting devices and reducing the total wattage load on your power strip.

Read our other blog here about is it better to unplug or to turn off?

Your Power Strip Has Stopped Working Because The Fuse Has Blown

Some power strips will have a fuse. If the one that you own has one then simply give the fuse cap a counter-clockwise turn to free it and then examine it under a bright light.

You want to check whether the thin strip of metal within the fuse’s casing has a break.

If the fuse does indeed have a break then it is worth checking the wiring before replacing it right away.

If your power strip has a circuit breaker, rather than a fuse, then find the reset button and give it a press.

Bad Wires Create Bad Times For Your Power Strip

It seems obvious, but faulty wiring will create problems with the electrical current that is trying to flow within your power strip.

Power strips are usually in areas of the home that see a lot of action.

If the cords of your power strip are under constant stress from wear and tear then fraying and damage can occur.

Take the following steps to safely identify whether your power strip has a wiring issue:

  1. Disconnect your power strip from the mains.
  2. Closely check the power cord.
  3. Identify any crimps or breakage along the cord.
  4. Look for any signs that the plastic coating has given way.
  5. If you find breaks or damage then use electrical tape to seal over the location of the damage.
  6. Next, take a screwdriver and remove the casing of your power strip to check the internal wiring.
  7. With the bottom panel exposed you can carefully check for any signs of shielding damage or identify any loose connections.
    • Use electrical tape to fix any shielding damage.
    • Use a soldering iron to fix any loose connections.
  8. If you notice any corrosion then you should swab the areas with rubbing alcohol to remove it.
    • Corrosion can stop electrical current from passing through the connection points and therefore stop your power strip from working.

If your power strip has any issues in regards to wiring then it poses a safety risk.

Always keep an eye on your power strip and if it does stop working check to see if there are any problems with the wiring.

If you don’t feel comfortable fixing it yourself then contact a specialist or replace the item rather than taking an unnecessary risk.

Your Power Strip Has Come To The End Of Its Lifespan

It’s difficult to give an exact lifespan of a power strip, however, after a certain period of time the device may fail.

Factors that will decrease the longevity of your power strip include:

  • How many devices are connected on a daily basis.
  • The watts that those devices use.
  • If your particular power strip is fitted with surge protection.

It is worth noting that power strips are not meant to be used over long periods of time. Continual electrical current will eventually damage their wiring.

If you know you are constantly supplying your devices with electricity via a power strip on a continual basis then perhaps it’s time to consider the installation of additional wall outlets.

That said, if that’s not an option for you then purchasing a new power strip every few years is good practice.

If your power strip does employ a surge protector then it is worth remembering that it may fail well before your power strip stops working.

This would mean that your power strip is no longer protecting you in the way it once did.

Finally, if you become aware of any damage to your power strip, no matter how old it is, it really is worth replacing it straight away to avoid any potential risks.

Read this other blog of our about how long can power strips last?







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