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Short Circuits: What They Are and Why Do They Happen?

Short Circuits: What They Are and Why Do They Happen?

January 19, 2021

Short Circuit Meaning

If you are wondering ‘what is a short circuit?’ then we are here to answer that for you! A short circuit definition is ‘an event in which electricity leaves the primary path within an electrical system’. This means that when electricity does not follow the right path, the system stops working effectively.

Table Of Content

  1. Short Circuit Meaning
  2. Types Of Short Circuits
    1. Classic Short Circuits
    2. Ground Fault Short Circuits
  3. Short Circuit Causes
    1. Faulty Insulation
    2. Loosely Connected Electrical Fixtures
    3. Faulty Or Old Appliances
  4. Preventing Short Circuits From Happening
  5. Short Circuit Repair

A short circuit is one of the most common emergencies when it comes to electricity and is one of the biggest causes of house fires. The good news is that there are ways you can protect your home against this problem. Let’s find out more about short circuits and how to mitigate against them.


Types Of Short Circuits

When it comes to electrical short circuit incidents, two main types can happen:

Classic Short Circuits – this is when you live wire makes contact with a neutral wire. Typically, this happens when the wiring has deteriorated and exposed the copper wiring reducing in the electrical current being directed the wrong way and causing the unit to smoke, set alight or make crackling noises.

Ground Fault Short Circuits – this type of electrical short circuit happens when a live hot conductor or hot wire makes contact with a grounded component, for example, this can include metal casing, boxes or handles as well as exposed wires. There is less risk of fire due to an electrical short circuit in this case.

Short Circuit Causes

The first step in avoiding a short circuit is understanding what causes it. There are a few different causes, and so we’ve shared the most common ones for you below:

Faulty Insulation

This is when your wiring or wiring insulation gets degraded and becomes exposed. This happens due to age, weather changes or even when rodents can chew the wires.

Loosely Connected Electrical Fixtures

If your electrics are poorly installed or have been in situ for some time, the wiring can move and contact the other wires, causing a short circuit. Many people to find that the wiring in these cases may have been completed by an amateur rather than a qualified electrician.

Faulty Or Old Appliances

Another common cause of a short circuit is when an old or faulty appliance is plugged into a wall and causes an outage. Old appliances can be incredibly dangerous, especially because they do not have the most up to date electrical workings powering them. 


Preventing Short Circuits From Happening

When you consider that short circuits are the main cause of house fires, it makes sense to take the time to ensure that your system is as safe and reliable as possible. There is a wide range of devices that you can have installed that will help you on your mission to safe electricals, and these include:

  • Switchboard and Circuit Breaker Installation – these devices work to isolate your wiring from the power outlets by instantly breaking the circuit when an incident occurs.
  • RCDs – Residual Current Devices provide the same result as circuit breakers but are more highly attuned to any small changes in the current passing through the wiring, meaning that they are an essential part of avoiding electrical emergencies. 

Short Circuit Repair

When you find that your electricity trips frequently, then it may be a sign that there is an issue with your power that needs to be fixed. However, rather than trying to solve the problem by yourself, it is essential that you hire an appropriately qualified electrician to check the system for you.

An inspection of your system and appliances will provide you with a clear understanding of how well the system performs and the changes that need to be made to keep you and your home safe from electrical fires. 

If you need advice or support about your electrical system then let Mr Switch help you out. We provide an expert service and are qualified to find and fix electrical faults so that you can sleep soundly at night – call us today and let us get to work.


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