Short circuits can cause a wide range of issues in both homes and industries. Not only could a short circuit trip your main circuit breakers, disrupt your entire day and possibly set you up for a dangerous electrocution or electrical fire! How do we avoid this from happening? Short circuit breakers are an essential safety device that is required by law in the United States and many other countries around the world. However, many of us don’t understand how they work and what exactly they do.
The basic explanation behind short circuits is that there is a difference between the voltage that an electric device draws and the actual electrical current itself. Due to the fact that electric conductors have a certain amount of resistance to the electrical current flowing through them, when a short circuit occurs, the amount of electrical current flowing through the circuit is reduced, which in turn creates a current imbalance. When the circuit breaks, either because of tripping or shorting out the electrical component, it can result in damage to the device, physical injury, or a combination of both.
The two different types of short circuit that can occur are a transient one, which mean it happens because of a physical short circuit, and a permanent one, which mean it’s a problem that will persist unless corrected by a qualified electrician. A temporary short circuit typically occurs when metal alloy wires become bent or damaged. This can happen when someone turns the power off on a machine, touches a metal object metallic in nature, or perhaps a wire gets wrapped around something electrically sensitive. The bend can then push the wire out of alignment, causing it to break as a short circuit. In addition, objects with excessive static electricity can cause short circuits, so it’s important not to stand too close to an electrical appliance or wire.
Permanent shorts are much more hazardous than transient ones simply because they last a very long time. This means a short circuit may be occurring when the patient is unconscious, confined to a wheelchair or bed, or even confined to an oxygen tank. Additionally, permanent ground faults usually involve the moving components within machinery. For this reason, it’s critical to pay close attention to the equipment, ensuring it’s turned off and protected against any potential ground faults.
Temporary short circuits happen when metal foils or other protective barriers become shorted out due to an accident or other incident. This may also happen if bare wires or insulation get disconnected from the circuit, whether from a utility switch or hot switch. This is often caused by overloading, overheating, or static electricity, which is caused when one side of the circuit is trying to send electrical current into an area with high resistance to it.
Temporary ground faults are often associated with an air distribution system. The main way this happens is when one section of a circuit breaker box shorts out, leaving the entire breaker box open. However, the most common cause remains when a loose piece of metal gets wrapped around the insulation around the connections. When this happens, there’s not enough resistance to the flow of electricity, so the short circuit makes contact with the exposed metal instead of the insulation.
Regardless of the cause, it’s important to recognize these situations and take steps to prevent them. First, as noted above, it’s extremely dangerous to have bare wires or other unprotected wiring exposed to electrical currents. Additionally, temporary short circuits often happen when exposed wires are not properly terminated or tied down. Finally, tied down or terminate loose wires are important to keeping electrical currents from making contact with anything in the room. Allowing wires to hang loosely can also lead to serious safety hazards.
If you suspect you’ve experienced one of these occurrences, you should immediately contact your service provider. They will either diagnose the problem or suggest a repair. The faster you can get an assessment of the problem and take appropriate steps, the more likely it is to be resolved quickly and safely. In some cases, a temporary circuit breaker might be all that’s needed. In others, however, a more permanent fix might be necessary.