What is Short Circuit?

A short circuit is when there is a low resistance connection between two conductors that are supplying electrical power to a circuit. This would generate an excess of voltage streaming and cause excessive flow of current in the power source. The electricity will flow through a ‘short’ route and cause a short circuit.

What Are the Types of Electrical Short Circuit?

There are two types of Electrical Short Circuits:

  1. Normal Short Circuit

  2. This is when a hot wire carrying current touches a neutral wire. When that happens, the resistance will go down instantly and a large volume of current will flow through an unexpected pathway.

  3. Ground Fault Short Circuit

  4. Ground fault short circuit occurs when the hot wire carrying current comes into contact with some grounded portion of the system. It can be a grounded metal wall box, bare ground wire or a grounded portion of an appliance.


What Are Main Causes of Electrical Short Circuit?

The main causes of Electrical Short Circuit are:

  • Faulty Circuit Wire Insulation

  • If the insulation is damaged or old, it may allow the hot wires to touch with neutral. This will cause a short circuit.

    Age of the wire, nails or screws can damage the insulation and allow short circuit. There is a risk of pests of gnawing the insulation and exposing the wire conductors too.

  • Loose Wire Connections

  • If there are any loose wire connections or attachments, it will allow the live and neutral wires to touch. If you see faulty wire connections, do not try to fix them on your own and call a professional immediately.

  • Faulty Appliance Wiring

  • If you plug an appliance into a wall socket, its wiring essentially becomes an extension of the circuit. Therefore, if there are any problems in the appliance wiring, it will become circuit problems.

    Short circuits can occur in the power cords, plugs or inside the appliance. Make sure you get short circuit protection for all the appliances.


How Can You Prevent a Electrical Short Circuit?

  • Monitor Outlets & Appliances

  • Every outlet has a network of wires connected to it. If there are any faulty wires, loose box connections or if the outlet is over 15-25 years old, it may lead to a short circuit. Look out for possible signs that indicate faulty outlets, which include:

    1. Burn marks on the outlet or a burning smell
    2. Sparks emitting from the outlet
    3. Buzzing sound from the outlet

    Similarly, check the appliances and their wiring too. Faulty appliance wiring or cracks in the appliance can cause a short circuit. Repair such appliances or replace them altogether.

  • Use Less Electricity During Storms

  • A short circuit caused by a lightning strike can be extremely dangerous as the sheer amount of electricity can lead to damage. Reduce electrical usage during a storm as it can help prevent short circuits and lessen the damage in case of a power surge.

  • Get a Yearly Electrical Inspection

  • Call a certified professional and get an electrical inspection done at least once a year. They can identify critical issues and resolve them before they can get dangerous because they know how to fix a short circuit.

  • Install Devices that Prevent Short Circuit

    1. Circuit Breakers or Fuses:A circuit breaker is a switching device in a circuit that interrupts an abnormal flow of current. It uses an internal system of springs or compressed air to sense any changes in the current flow. It will ‘break’ the circuit open and cut the flow of current.A fuse is a device that provides overcurrent protection. It has a metal strip or wire that melts when a large amount of current flows through it. This interrupts the circuit.
    2. Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): GFCI works by comparing the amount of current flowing in and out of a circuit. If there is a ground fault or imbalance between the currents flowing in and out, the GFCI will shut off electrical power.
    3. Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs): An AFCI breaks the circuit when it detects an electric arc in the circuit. It helps in preventing electrical fires.

Check out AFCI vs GFCI and where you should install them for more information on where should you install AFCI and GFCI.