Whether you have read about it in a science book or have encountered live in your life, short circuit is the commonly heard term in one’s daily life. You may have even heard about fire accidents caused due to short circuit. Short circuit is one of the major type of electrical accident that can cause a lot of damage. Electricity has been a boon to us. However, with the chance of short circuit, it can even be a curse to us. Short circuit does not only result in power loss, but it can also cause fire, damage to appliances, injuries, and even death. Therefore, this article will help you understand everything you need to know about short circuit.
What is Short Circuit?
Short Circuit occur when a low-resistance path not suited to carry electricity receives a high-volume electrical current. In a simple language, short circuits happen when hot wire touches a conductive object that it shouldn’t. They are usually due to broken insulation, improper wiring or overloading.
There are two types of short circuit. They are:
Normal Short Circuits
When a hot wire supplying current comes in contact with a neutral wire, the resistance decreases. Due to this, a huge amount of current starts flowing through an unpredicted pathway. This is known as normal short circuits.
Ground Fault Short Circuits
This type of short circuit occurs when a hot wire supplying current comes in contact with the ground base. The ground base could be anything like a metal box, base of a machine or bare ground wire.
Causes of Short Circuits
Short circuits are caused due to various reasons. If not dealt timely and properly, it may lead to electric shocks and fire as well. Some causes of short circuits are as follows:
To complete the flow of current, the circuit requires strong connectors at the end of the wire. However, if it loses even a small bit, it gets exposed to other wires. When the electricity passes to other wires or comes in contact with ground base, short circuit happens.
The current can then pass to neutral wire when there is fault in insulation. This directly leads to a surge in electricity and a short circuit. Usually, age of the insulation and usability of wire determined how long will the insulation lasts. Higher the usage, lesser will be its life. Pests and rats might chew off the insulation as well.
Old and Outdated Wiring
Due to excessive usability, the wires overheat and wear off more quickly. Modern housing have copper wire which supports the modern day consumption. However, aluminum wires were widely used in old times. In case you have aluminum wiring in your home then you need to upgrade it to copper.
Sometimes there will not enough sockets for all your appliances to plug in. To fill the void, you may use adapters. However, overloading the adapter with appliances that consume more electricity can be dangerous. This will not only result in short circuit but melting of the adapter as well.
People have a habit of using the same piece of appliance for a very long time. Not just one single person uses these appliances and usability of these items vary from person to person. Therefore, the chances of these devices being faulty is high. There can be a problem in the plug or wire as well as in the internal wiring or machine itself.
Ways to Prevent Short Circuit
If you are not taking any preventative measures against short circuits, you are only increasing the risk of these situations happening. Here are the list of safety measures you can follow to prevent short circuit.
One of the most easy to prevent short circuit is to unplug appliances that are not in use. These appliances can be anything from T.V, microwave oven to your phone charger. You can even switch them off from the power source so that these electronics don’t consume even minimal electricity and burden the electrical circuits.
Install Fuses and Magneto-Thermal Switches
Installing fuses are a good way to avoid short circuits. They interrupt the flow of current when it increases beyond the amount the circuit could handle. Magneto thermal switches are also similar to fuses. They monitor the current load continuously and interrupt the electrical supply when it increases beyond a designated limit.
Fix Damaged Wires And Appliances
Make sure you fix the wires and appliances that have been damaged. You should check your appliances before plugging them in. If there are some problems such as damaged cords, or wire, several cracks in the appliance or has exposed circuitry, then either dispose them or have a professional repair your appliance. Also, don’t put any wire under the carpets as there is a high chance that it could heat up and catch fire.
Yearly Electrical Inspection
Like a doctor’s appointment, electrical inspections should be done at least once a year. This will help to identify any fixes or wires that would require your attention soon. The professional can find things that you may not even know like damages done by pests and rats.
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