short circuit

When does an Electric Short Circuit Occur

When does an Electric Short Circuit Occur

Short Circuit Meaning

As the name implies, a short circuit is a condition where electrical flow completes its circuit journey via a shorter distance than is present in the established wiring. By nature, electricity seeks to return to the ground, and in a properly functioning circuit, this means that the current flow through the established wiring circuit, back to the service panel, and onward back through the utility wires. However, if the connections within the wiring loosen or break, electrical current may “leak” and flow into other materials. It this condition, the current instantly seeks to flow back to the ground by a shorter pathway. That pathway may very well be through flammable materials or even through a human being, which is why a short circuit presents the danger of fire or lethal shock.

The reason this happens is that these other materials offer a pathway of lesser resistance that is present in the copper wiring of a circuit. For example, in a light switch with faulty wiring or a loose wire connection, if the bare copper hot wire touches the metal electrical box or a metal faceplate on the switch, the current will leap toward whatever path of least resistance exists—which could well be through the finger, hand, and body of whoever touches the switch.

Causes of Short Circuits

Broken Circuit wire insulation

The wire which is old or damaged insulation will allow neutral and hot wires to touch, which will lead to the main cause of short circuit. With the passage of time nail and screw can puncture and can cause wire casings to deteriorate and allow short circuits. Animals like mice, rats, squirrels chew on circuit wiring, then inner wire conductors can be exposed to cause short circuits.

Loose wire connections

Any type of attachments can loosen, which will sometimes allow both neutral and live wires to touch. Fixing broken wire connections is difficult and will be best handled by a good electrician.

Broken or loose appliance wiring

Whenever any appliances are plugged into an outlet, then that wiring becomes an extension of the circuit, and if there is any problem in the wiring then it will become circuit problems. Old or broken appliances can develop inner short circuits over time. Short circuits in appliances can occur in the plugs, in the power cords or inside the device itself. It’s best to have a technician look at shorts in larger appliances such as ovens and dishwashers. Smaller appliances such as lamps often can be rewired yourself.

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