Have you ever plugged the washing machine and then suddenly experience a horror-like flickering of the lights? Does your music suddenly become garbled when someone else in the other room switches the TV on? Such system disturbances may likely be caused by an overloaded circuit. In these cases, it’s a residential, commercial, or industrial electrician in Utah that you’re going to need.
What is an overloaded circuit exactly?
Almost always, anything with the prefix “over” implies something in excess, bad, and that must be reduced to be better. Likewise, an overloaded circuit is a circuit that carries more current than it can handle. The same way any vessel bursts or breaks down when it is filled with more than it’s designed to carry, an electric circuit is bound to malfunction when forced to handle too much.
What causes it?
An overloaded circuit is caused when too many devices, especially when most or all of them work on high-power, are plugged in the same socket, sometimes through an extension. It can also happen even when these aforementioned devices are plugged in different sockets if the sockets are connected to just a single electric line.
Is it the same as a short circuit?
No. Although some of the effects seem similar – burning odors, sparks, flames – they are different in nature. A short circuit happens when two conductors unexpectedly touch, at which point current shoots up beyond safe and allowable levels. While that also poses danger, it’s a different case.
Why is an overloaded circuit dangerous?
Overloaded circuits cause distortions in the outputs of certain devices – speakers, for example, have been observed to produce static-y sound when in such instances. It can cause poor performance and unexpected shutdowns in most appliances, due to insufficient power. In worst-case scenarios, an overloaded circuit can cause overheating, which in turn can be a serious fire hazard.
What should I do?
Pay attention to the early telltale signs of an overloaded circuit: dimming or flickering lights, malfunctioning plugged-in appliances. Stop, look, and listen (smell and feel too, while you’re at it) when it comes to your plugs and switches. Does it smell like something is burning? Do some of them have scorch marks? Are they warm to touch? Do you hear an alarming buzz or hum from them?
Know your home’s electrical circuit layout so you have a grasp of where to plug or not to plug in too many things at once. If you think your electricity consumption is beyond the current capacity of your circuits, it would be wise to add more outlets to accommodate it.
If you already see signs of an overloaded circuit in your home: If they don’t happen too many times, they’re most likely not something to worry about. Better management of your electricity usage and even the simple shifting of plug-in devices to other outlets in the house will suffice to fix it. However, if the signs happen often and severely, it’s best to contact a professional already. Depending on the nature of the dwelling, certain technicians will be able to promptly find the cause of the problem and save you from any potential, serious harm.
Mapping out and understanding your own electrical system can be daunting, frustrating, and even dangerous. Contacting an electrician to help you with this is highly recommended. They can also help improve the overall design of your system to ensure the constant safety of your living or working space.