Where there is electricity, there is also a possibility of a short circuit. This occurs when a low-resistance path receives a high-volume of electric current, as a result of which, the electricity flows through a ‘short’ route, causing a short circuit.
For example, when a hot wire touches a neutral wire, the resistance goes down instantly and the large volume of current flows through an unexpected pathway.
A short circuit doesn’t just result in power loss, but it can also lead to appliance damage, electrocution, or even a fire. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reported that short circuits caused from worn out and defective insulation accounted for 14% of all home fire deaths.
Here are some quick tips to avoid short circuits in your home:
Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
Did you know that many electronics in your home draw power 24/7 even when they aren’t in use? Any appliance that has an LCD panel, clock or light—such as your DVD player, microwave or television—still consumes electricity even when it is turned off. Moreover, devices that have a standby or sleep power mode are never completely off.
Leaving these appliances plugged in doesn’t just hike up your electricity bill (because of the leaked energy) but it can also lead to a short circuit due to overloading.
Inspect Outlets before Use
Every outlet has a box with a network of wires behind it. Faulty wiring, outdated outlets and loose box connections can all lead to a short circuit, which is why it’s so important to get your outlets inspected by a licensed electrician before use.
Look out for these possible signs of faulty outlets:
- Outlets with burning smell or burn marks
- Sparks emit form the outlet when an appliance is plugged in
- Popping or buzzing sound emitting from the outlet
Additionally, cracks or faulty wiring in appliances can also cause a short circuit.
Install Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
GFCIs can be potentially life-saving devices, found on circuit breakers, extension cords, electrical receptacles (outlets) and other electrical equipment. They protect against electric shock by quickly shutting off power when an imbalance in the electrical current is detected. For instance, if water splashes on your hair dryer and creates a short circuit, the GFCI will turn itself off.
According to the 2017 National Electrical Code, GFCI protection is required for 15 and 20 amp outlets in bathrooms, countertops, unfinished basements, shower stalls, bathtubs and other outdoor areas. Furthermore, appliances that have history of shock hazard also require GFCI protection, in addition to locations where electrical current is likely to come in contact with water, such as drinking fountains, dishwashers and vending machines.
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