One of the most common home electrical repairs that electricians deal with is an electrical short circuit. This is when a hot wire bearing live current contacts a neutral wire. As a result, a large volume of current passes through an unfamiliar pathway, presenting the risk of an electrical shock or fire outbreak. Here is all you need to know about short circuits.
What Causes Short Circuits?
Short circuits can result from several issues. In many cases, short circuits are a result of loose connections. If hot and neutral wires loosen and sag, the wires may touch each other and cause a short circuit.
There is another type of short circuit called a ground fault. This arises when a hot wire with current touches a grounded portion of an electrical system. For example, a hot wire carrying current touches the grounded part of a machine. This could be a bare ground wire or a grounded metal box.
One of the main causes of short circuits is outdated wiring. If your electrical wiring is a few decades old, you stand the risk of experiencing short circuits. Additionally, faulty appliance wiring, in the form of a faulty power cord or a faulty plug, can cause short circuits. Also, if the insulation on hot and neutral wires wears out, it increases the likelihood of short circuits.
How Can You Avoid Short Circuits?
The first defence against short circuits is to schedule an inspection of your electrical outlets. Old wiring should be replaced and faulty and loose connections fixed.
You should also minimise electrical use in times of storms. Lightning strikes increase the risk of a short circuit. This is because, during storms, there is a high amount of energy moving into your home. During lightning storms, reduce electrical use and only turn on the necessary electrical outlets to minimise the risk of a short circuit and power surges.
Another way to prevent short circuits is to use magneto-thermal switches. These switches are like fuses — they prevent power surges. Magneto-thermal switches constantly monitor current and interrupt the supply when the load goes above unwanted limits.
The installation of arc-fault circuit interrupters is another way of avoiding short circuits, especially those that cause fires. An AFCI protects you against arcing, the sparking that results when electricity jumps between two metal contacts. This device anticipates short circuits and puts off power before a short circuit condition.
A short circuit can damage the electrical components in your home. It can also lead to electrical shocks and fire outbreaks. If you notice signs of a short circuit, like fuses constantly blowing and your circuit breaker frequently going off, consult an electrician immediately.