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Every homeowner and tenant’s worst fear regarding electricity is a short circuit. Short circuits can occur even with the most up-to-date wiring and electrical systems. They’re not always easy to identify, but learning what they are, how to spot them, and how to repair them can save you time and money. Passelectric.ca understands that working with electricity isn’t for everyone and recommends you phone a professional if you feel uncomfortable fixing a short circuit.
So whether you’re a pro or just starting to learn, read on for all the info you need to keep your home safe from shorts!Don't know how to spot and fix a short circuit in your home? This guide tells you everything you need to know! Click To Tweet
What Is a Short Circuit?
A short circuit is an electrical fault when the current is allowed to flow in a path that bypasses the usual route. This can be caused by a defect in the wiring or the appliance.
Hair dryers, curling irons, and flat irons are all common culprits. These appliances draw a lot of power, and if they’re not used properly, they can cause a short circuit.
Short circuits are dangerous because they can cause fire or explosion, electric shock, damage to appliances and property, and personal injury. That’s why fixing a short circuit is often left to the professionals.
What Causes Short Circuits?
One of the most common reasons for short circuits to occur is because of deteriorated insulation. Short circuits also often occur when there’s some kind of failure in an electrical component.
For example, suppose you have an appliance with faulty wiring. It might allow current from another part of your home’s electrical system (like your fuse box) to enter its internal circuitry at multiple points instead of only at one point as it should be doing.
Short circuits can even occur inside the walls due to damaged wires (eaten by rats) or if the contractor has made loose connections. This is a more severe aspect as this could cause the house to catch on fire!
How to Identify a Short Circuit
It could be a short circuit if you hear a loud pop, see sparks, or smell burning insulation. If the lightbulb burns out immediately when you turn on an appliance that uses electricity and don’t think the bulb is old, it could be a short circuit.
If a burning smell comes from an appliance when turned on or if the fuse blows when you plug something in to an outlet and then remove it quickly, it could be caused by shorts in your wiring system.
Fixing a short circuit on a plug is the easiest to identify. It leaves a black residue on the outlet itself. Sometimes, it can be so severe that the outlet and inlet melt together. This results in a short circuit and is recommended to be fixed by a professional.
How to Fix a Short Circuit
When fixing a short circuit, you must first turn off all circuit breakers or the main fuse at the electrical board. You then need to unplug the appliance and check for a blown fuse. Remove the fuse and check it with a multimeter if you have one handy.
If it’s blown, replace it with another fuse of the same amperage (for example, a 15 amp fuse). It’s important to get this right as too high an amp rating can damage your circuit board or wiring, and too low an amp rating may not protect your equipment from fire!
Don’t use pliers to remove fuses as they may break; you can purchase replacement fuses at any hardware store or online. Once you have replaced the fuse, turn the power back on. You can now plug in and test your appliance.
Final Thoughts on Fixing a Short Circuit
For anyone with basic knowledge of electricity fixing a short circuit isn’t too hard, but electricity isn’t for everyone. Luckily electricians exist to help you repair your short circuit if you don’t want to do it yourself. Regardless of how you do it, it’s important to act quickly to prevent electrical fires or further damage.
How will you respond if a short circuit occurs in your house?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.