Typically, a short circuit takes place when an electrified wire comes in contact with another wire carrying current, or a small section, and a connection of less resistance is created.
In simple terms, A short circuit is a problem in an electrical circuit where two or more wires that are not supposed to come in contact with each other touch.
A short circuit can result in a very high current flowing through the circuit. This high current can destroy components, melt insulation and start a fire. If there is enough voltage, it can also cause an explosion called arc flash.
Dealing with Short Circuits
The most common sign of a short circuit is when a circuit breaker trips and causes the circuit to shut off. However, there are other conditions that can cause a circuit breaker to trip, such as power overloads, so it is important to determine why the breaker is tripping. If a circuit breaker continues to trip immediately after being reset, it is a strong indication that there is a wiring problem somewhere along the circuit or in one of the appliances connected to that circuit.
Here is a procedure to follow if you suspect a short circuit:
- Locate the tripped circuit breaker: At the main service panel, look for an individual circuit breaker with a handle that has snapped to the OFF position. Some breakers may have a red or orange window indicator to make it easy to spot. This tripped breaker will identify the circuit where the problem exists. Leave the circuit breaker OFF as you inspect along the circuit.
- Inspect appliance power cords: If you find any that are damaged or on which the plastic insulation has melted, Unplug these appliances from the circuit. switch the circuit breaker back on after unplugging them.
If the circuit now remains active without tripping again, it is very certain that your problem existed in an appliance. However, if the circuit breaker trips again immediately, proceed to the next step.
- Turn off all light and appliance switches along the circuit. Then, turn the circuit breaker back to the ON position.
- Turn on each light switch or appliance switch, one at a time. If you reach a switch that causes the circuit breaker to trip again, you have identified the section of circuit wiring where a loose connection or wiring problem exists.
- Repair the circuit wiring problem. This is a step that may require the help of a professional electrician. Do not attempt this unless you are very confident about your knowledge and skill level. This repair will involve shutting off the circuit, then opening up the outlet and switch boxes to inspect the wires and wire connections and making any repairs that are necessary.
If you cannot find any obvious problem in one of the plug-in appliances or fixture wiring connections, the problem is likely hidden somewhere in the wall wiring.
Solving this problem will require you to call a licensed electrician to deal with it.
Do not reactivate the circuit until the problem has been identified and repaired—doing so poses a risk of fire and shock to you and your family. Any smell of smoke or signs of charring or melted plastic is a sign you have a serious problem.