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The power coming from your wall is rated by the electrical company to be within a certain voltage range. The nominal voltage for North American circuits is 110 volts. Due to disturbances, distant lightning strikes, and problems within the electrical grid, on occasion a voltage spike may come down the line. This is a temporary increase of voltage that can last just a few thousandths of a second, but in this time the voltage can increase from 110 to 1,000 volts or even higher.
Most computer power supplies are subjected to many of these surges each year, and like with line noise, most of the better ones can tolerate them to some extent, though it isn't really great for their internal components, as I am sure you can imagine. In some cases, high voltage surges can disrupt or even damage your computer equipment. In addition, being subjected to many surges over a period of time will slowly degrade many power supply units and cause them to fail prematurely.
Next: Lightning Strikes