A short circuit is an electrical circuit that has an excess amount of current – this can damage your home and appliances. The reason it is dangerous is that the magnitude of electric current may be very large in such a short circuit, and the release of energy can be cataclysmic to your home or business.
What Causes a Short Circuit?
Short circuits are dangerous with high voltage power sources because the high currents encountered can cause large amounts of heat energy to be released. How does this happen? Old or damaged insulation allows neutral and live wires to touch, which can cause a short circuit. Nail and screw punctures can cause wire casings or insulation to deteriorate and allow short circuits. Attachments can loosen, sometimes allowing neutral and live wires to touch. Old or broken appliances can develop shorts over time. Short circuits in appliances can occur in plugs in the power cords or inside the device.
Locating a Short Circuit
Many short circuits are characterized by sparks, flames or smoke. Shorts can sometimes be internal as well. A short will cause your breaker to trip. The switch attached to a tripped breaker will flip the opposite direction of the other breakers when it overloads or short. Some breakers are also marked with red or orange indicators. If no problem appliance or devices is found, switch off all the lights and unplug any appliances on the affected circuit. It’s helpful to label your breakers with each room or appliance it powers. Knowing which item or area of your home has a faulty breaker will help you pinpoint potential shorts. Damage from short circuits can be reduced or prevented by employing fuses, circuit breakers, or other overload protection, which disconnect the power in reaction to excessive current.
The Dangers – Can You Say ‘Fire’?
Short circuits are abnormal connections that allow for additional electricity to run through your switch, appliance or outlet. The additional heat generated by the bump in electricity can cause fires if the affected wires encounter flammable parts of your home. A short circuit fault current can be thousands of times larger than the normal operating current of the system. The additional heat generated by the bump in electricity can cause fires if the affected wires encounter flammable parts of your home. Bare or broken wires, in the case of chewed or damaged cords, can also cause a short circuit and expose your family or pets to a shock hazard. If you notice a stripped or damaged cord, unplug it immediately. Be sure to insulate the conductive materials around electrical equipment in your home to protect against short circuits. It’s also important to maintain and check electrical equipment regularly. Avoid bending or crimping wires too tightly. Don’t overload circuits with too many plug-in or electricity-hungry devices.
Ready for Your Home Energy Audit?
At Frontline Electrical Services we love helping our customers feel safe and secure in their homes. If you are in the Benicia or Fairfield, California area, contact us today at (707) 331-3503 (here is a map to our location) to have your home’s wiring checked or to receive your free home energy consult where our techs analyze your electricity usage and give you the information you need to make sure your home is the most energy-efficient it can be!