Locating an Electrical Short in Your Home

If you have an electrical short in your home, you are probably experiencing a lot of blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. It is also common to hear a popping sound, which can be fairly loud, whenever the circuit becomes activated. Basically an electrical short occurs when an electrical path develops accidentally within a circuit, resulting in an erroneous connection. If you suspect you have an electrical short anywhere in your home, you should locate it and get it repaired immediately. If not attended to, an electrical short can cause wire damage due to the insulation melting, circuit damage, or even a fire. If you are comfortable working around electricity, you can use the following steps to locate and repair the electrical short yourself. Otherwise, calling a licensed electrician is the best option.

Initial Examination

Checking your appliances is usually the first step when attempting to locate an electrical short. If you know which appliances you were using when the short occurred, unplug these appliances. Then, changed the fuse or reset the breaker that is associated with the circuit that supplies electricity to those appliances. Energize the circuit, making sure that the fuse does not blow or the circuit breaker does not trip. If it does, even when no appliances are plugged in, it is likely that a short exists in the receptacle or the wiring. If everything is fine, then chances are there is an appliance causing the problem. Test each appliance individually. If you find one that causes the fuse to blow or the circuit breaker to trip, you should either repair or replace the appliance.

Dealing With Shorts in Wiring

If you do not find an appliance that is causing the short, chances are you have a wiring problem. The first step should always be to turn off the problematic circuit. Be sure to check the voltage with a volt/ohm meter to ensure that the circuit is turned off before proceeding. Once you verify that the voltage is showing as zero on the meter, you can remove the receptacle, pulling the wires out with pliers and a screwdriver. Adjust the volt/ohm meter so that it is set to measure ohms. Connect one of the leads to the bare end of the black wire, and the other lead to the bare ends of the white wire. If the meter indicates O.L. (infinite ohms), this is a sign that the receptacle itself needs to be replaced. If the volt/ohm meter indicates continuity, then the short is probably in the circuit breaker or the wire. If this is the case, the main breaker will need to be turned off to further investigate the matter. At this point, calling an electrician is generally the best option in the interest of safety. An electrician will be able to identify the problematic fuse or breaker connection and remove the wires. If the wire is shorted or the breaker is defective, an electrician will be able to safely make the repair and then test to make sure the problem is completely resolved.

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