An electrical short is a common problem that can also lead to a disaster. When there is an electrical short you will need to determine why and where the short occurred. For those who don’t know what an electrical short is or what causes them, Burley Electrical Services will go into more detail about electrical shorts, and why it is important to maintain a healthy electrical system.
What Causes an Electrical Short?
Most people assume that an electrical short is the same as a tripped breaker, however they are very different. When the electrical system shorts the breaker will trip. Despite the tripped breaker, it wasn’t due to an overloaded circuit. An electrical short occurs occur when the hot wire comes in contact with the neutral wire. The hot and neutral wire should never come in contact with each other. If these two wires contact one another, it was due to negligence during electrical work, a connection has come loose, or the protective coating has degraded. When you have an electrical short, often a large spark occurs which can lead to a potential fire.
Should Old Electrical Wiring Be Replaced?
Electrical shorts become a bigger problem when the home’s electrical wiring is old. As the wiring ages it deteriorates and the protective coating can begin to break down and expose the internal wires. Another cause for the electrical wiring’s protective coating or also known as the insulation is compromised can be due to rodents. The plastic coating is made from natural oil which rodents think is food. They often chew on the insulation exposing the wiring. Lastly, the neutral and hot wiring often comes in contact with one another when the connection has become loose. The connections in many electrical systems are at light fixtures, appliances, outlets, or light switches.
How Do You Check for an Electrical Short?
An electrical short needs to be located when they occur to correct the problem. If there is a loose connection or damaged wiring they will need to be repaired or the wiring system replaced. There are some clues that can help you determine if you had an electrical short and not an overloaded circuit. Here are some of the classic signs or symptoms of an electrical short.
Burning Smell – when the hot and neutral wiring comes in contact it will create a spark that can leave behind a burning smell. If your breaker tripped and you detect a burning smell, you most likely had an electrical short. If you are able to locate the site of the burning smell you will have a good idea where you need electrical repairs.
Feel Heat – If you can feel heat from a light switch, outlet or in the wall, this is most likely the site of an electrical short. The heat was released, which only occurs during an electrical short. If it was an overloaded circuit the power surge would have discharged safely and you wouldn’t feel heat. The outlet or light switch may even appear burnt.