4 Causes of a Power Outage

By North Central Electric,

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causes of power outage


A power outage can occur at any time. When an object comes into contact with a power line, the flow of electricity is interrupted, causing an automatic shut off. An outage can affect a few homes or an entire city. These days, outages are less common because of improved technology, but they can still happen, sometimes lasting several days. While there is little you can do to prevent an outage, investing in a backup generator can ensure your home or business stays up and running.  

Power outages typically fall into three main categories, depending on severity. This includes:

  • Permanent fault – Caused by a fault on the power line. Often results in just a brief flickering of the lights.
  • Brownout – A drop in voltage that can cause lights to dim. 
  • Blackout – The most severe type of outage resulting in an unexpected and complete loss of power. 

If you’re wondering why these breakdowns occur, the experts at NCE are sharing what causes a power outage and what to do when the power goes out. 


Extreme weather conditions such as high winds, snow, flooding, ice, and lightning can all cause a power outage. During a summer storm, high winds can cause power lines to swing together resulting in a fault or short circuit. Strong winds can also blow tree branches or entire trees over, breaking power lines. Lightning is another power outage culprit. If electrical equipment gets hit by lightning during a storm, the power will be cut.

Winter storms also pose a threat to your power. During a snowstorm, ice and snow can build up on power lines, causing them to sag or break. Heavy snow and ice can also break trees and tree limbs, causing them to fall onto power lines. 

Technology Failures

At NCE, we ensure your equipment is rigorously tested and maintained, but sometimes problems can occur with cables, connectors, switches, and more. When a problem occurs with your electrical equipment, this can accidentally trigger an outage. 

Human Error

Power poles are everywhere and it’s not uncommon for a traffic accident to happen involving an electrical pole. If the pole is damaged or knocked over, a power outage can occur, usually affecting only a few homes or businesses being served by that power line.

Scheduled Maintenance Interruptions 

Occasionally, a utility company will intentionally interrupt service to perform maintenance or repair work on equipment. This protects workers from electrical shock and is usually scheduled for the least inconvenient times and only lasts about an hour. 

At NCE, we are a full-spectrum electrical contracting company, providing facilities with industrial testing programs, maintenance, engineering, commissioning, and project management. We use only the best tools, like power quality analyzers, to identify issues with your power quality to ensure your lights are always on. Don’t let your facility get left in the dark. If you’re wondering what to do when the power goes out, contact our team today and experience the North Central Electric difference.