How To Check For A Short Circuit
By Dave Donahue
Short circuits or breakers that constantly trip can be an electrical hazard. If one of your breakers constantly trips or cannot be reset you have something that is causing the short circuit to occur. In the majority of cases this short circuit is caused at the junction box, your service panel or in locations where the wires are coming loose or connecting with metal. Follow these tips to fix an electrical circuit problem! As always in doing any electrical work it is necessary to follow simple rules of thumb. Always use a tester on any work, turn off power before starting and if in question contact your local electrician.
1) To identify a short circuit, your first step will be to identify where it is occurring. Begin by opening the service panel and look for a tripped breaker. Turn off everything connected to the breaker. Try to reset. If it trips it is highly likely the short circuit is connected to the circuit itself. It is unlikely the short exist in the wiring itself. If the breaker resets then it the short circuit exist in the wiring itself.
2) Check connections in switches for possible bad connections. A loose wire in a switch box may be the culprit. Check that all connections are tight and that none of the connections are touching bare metal on the switchbox.
3)If your breaker continues to trip after looking for possible loose connections in the panel, switch or junction box, examine the receptacles or other devices and check for loose connection. Commonly a loose connection at the receptacle may cause a short circuit from bare wires touching the sides of a metal junction box. Tighten up all loose connections and check with a tester all appliances and receptacles. Try and reset the breaker.
4) If the circuit continues to trip after all connections have been determined to be tight and secure, the short circuit may be occurring in the wiring itself. If this is the case, you may want to consider replacing the wire. Wire that has been chewed through by rodents a is also a cause for sudden short circuits, especially in residential applications.
When identifying a short circuit it is important to use caution when searching for the problem. Always keep the power off to the circuit before starting work and use caution when testing. Electrical accidents are common therefore it is important to always use safety equipment when working on a short circuit. If you are in question as to your ability to troubleshoot and identify a short circuit, consult your local Southern Colorado electrician.
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This is an original article written by Dave Donahue for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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