A short circuit occurs when two conductors delivering electrical power to a circuit have a low resistance connection. This typically results in an overabundance of voltage streaming and an overabundance of current flowing through the power source.
Short circuits can cause a number of issues in both businesses and residences. A simple short circuit can cause electrocutions and even electrical fires, in addition to tripping your circuit breakers and disrupting your day. This happens when a defect in the existing wiring interrupts the flow of power.
If a short circuit in your electrical system is not discovered and repaired quickly, it might result in sparks, smoke, fire, or electric shock. Let’s learn more about short circuits and what causes them.
Table of Contents
Two Major Types of Faults
A short circuit is defined as any scenario in which the established wiring circuit is disrupted due to a fault in the wiring or wire connections. However, despite having different names, there are two instances that both qualify as short circuits. Before we go into the common causes of short circuits in the house, let’s learn how electrical circuits in our house function.
A circuit requires two wires: a hot wire (carrying a negative electrical charge) and a neutral wire (carrying a positive electrical charge). A grounding wire is generally used if there is a defect in the system and current escapes from either of these wires.
A grounding wire is a backup line that runs parallel to the hot and neutral wires and conducts current back to the ground if it deviates from its intended path. If your house doesn’t have a grounding system, the system is more likely to catch fire.
As discussed above, the following are the two types of short circuits:
Electricians most usually use the word “short circuit” to describe a circumstance in which a hot wire carrying live current comes into contact with a neutral wire. When this happens, the resistance drops quickly, and a big amount of current flows in an unexpected direction. This can result in spark with crackling noises.
A ground fault occurs when a current-carrying hot wire comes into contact with a grounded component of the system, such as a bare copper ground wire, a grounded metal box, or a grounded component of an appliance.
A ground fault, like a short circuit, causes resistance to drop quickly, allowing a substantial quantity of current to flow freely along an unexpected path. There is less likelihood of flame and fire here, but there is a significant risk of shock.
Causes of Short Circuit
Insulation between the hot and neutral wires prevents the two wires from contacting and causing a short circuit. However, this insulation might deteriorate or be degraded over time. When nailing and screwing holes in walls, be careful not to accidentally damage electrical lines.
House owners should regularly check crawl spaces for indications of pests gnawing through insulation and wiring. Any cracks and holes must be repaired immediately.
To save the wire insulation of your appliances from external factors and heat, you can install them in an ul listed electrical box, because enclosures could help keep appliances from external damage..
When you put an appliance into a wall outlet, wiring effectively becomes an extension of the circuit, and any issues with the appliance wiring become circuit issues. Over time, old or defective appliances might generate internal short circuits.
Appliance short circuits can occur in the plugs, power cords, or inside the item itself. Shorts in bigger appliances, such as ovens and dishwashers, should be checked by a professional. Smaller items, such as lamps, can often be rewired by the homeowner.
Two wires may come into contact with each other and cause a short circuit if wire attachments loosen and droop. Hence, it is important to have wire to wire connection fixed properly.
If a hot wire and a neutral wire come into contact, they should not be tightened without professional assistance. So, one should make an appointment with Denver electricians to have the problem fixed.
Using Old Wires
Over time, wires and wire insulation will show signs of wear and tear. An electrical system’s average lifespan is around 40 years. Your system may not be safe if it is older than this. Aluminum wire may still be present in your home if it was built in the late 90s.
Aluminum corrodes faster and overheats more easily than copper, putting your property at risk of fire. Furthermore, earlier wiring systems were not built to handle the quantity of electricity required by modern homes.
Internal Connection Fault
To keep the current flowing, a circuit requires robust connectors. If the connector is loose, electricity can flow to the neutral wire or to a grounded component of the circuit, resulting in a short circuit.
This article discussed various causes of short circuits. With this knowledge, one can easily diagnose the problem and the cause. A circuit breaker tripping and shutting off the circuit is the most common indicator of a short circuit.
However, other factors, such as power overloads, might cause a circuit breaker to trip, so it’s crucial to figure out why the breaker is tripping. If a circuit breaker keeps tripping after being reset, it’s a sign that there’s an issue with the wiring somewhere along the circuit or in one of the appliances connected to it.