Electrical faults remain one of the most common causes of home fires. The sad thing is that in most cases this is completely avoidable. An overloaded circuit simply means there are too many things plugged into it.
This can be achieved by plugging things into different circuits. Of course, it may not be that simple if you’re not sure which sockets are on which circuits. Or, you simply can’t reach another socket without using dangerous extension cables.
If this is the case the best remedy is to get a level 2 electrician and have a new circuit installed.
The following frees signs of overloaded circuits are the most common, although there are others.
Circuit Breakers That Keep Tripping
Your circuit breaker is designed to detect an overload and trip. This stops the current to the circuit potentially preventing issues. It’s a fantastic safety device and one that is often overlooked.
If you find that your circuit breaker is constantly tripping then there is an issue with the circuit.
This can be a problem with a specific appliance. You can test for this by unplugging everything and then plugging it all back in one item at a time. Do the process twice. If the same item causes the breaker to trip then it’s faulty and needs looking at or replacing.
Assuming there is no specific appliance then you either have a faulty circuit breaker or, more likely, the circuit is trying to draw too much current.
You need to get your electrician to check the circuit for faults and then run a second circuit in, giving you the power you need safely.
Smell of Burning
Another great indication that you have an overloaded electrical circuit is the smell of burning.
The wires that carry electricity get warm because of the current passing through them. The greater the current the more heat is produced. When the circuit is overloaded the heat produced can be enough to melt wires. You’ll smell the burning.
You may also notice discoloration around your sockets, this is a sign that the cables are burning and you have a high risk of fire.
Mild Electric Shocks
The third most likely sign of an electrical overload is mild electric shocks. As the heat damages the wires bare copper cables are exposed. This allows contact between the cables and the transference of electricity.
This will result in short circuits, which can trip the breaker. The short circuits can also transfer into your hands as an electric shock. All you need to do is touch the wrong part of the socket or have wet hands when doing so.
It’s likely that the sockets will also buzz or crackle, especially when you’re plugging or unplugging items. This is a sign the circuits are damaged, probably due to an overload.
In all cases, if you suspect an overload you should shut the circuit off and get professional help. It’s your safety and your home that is at risk.