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How To Find An Electrical Short

September 21, 2021 | Blog

As soon as an electrical short occurs, it should be identified and addressed straight away. If left alone, it could lead to wire and breaker deterioration, or even a fire. Finding an electrical short may seem challenging, but with the right tools, you could find the root of the problem yourself. While locating an electrical short can be a simple process, repairing this short can prove to be more risky – don’t be afraid to call an expert! The professional electricians at Blanco AC, Electric and Plumbing can help identify and fix any electrical short in your home.

Inspect Affected Appliances

The first thing to do when a short occurs is to check the plugs of any affected electrical device, such as appliances and light fixtures. Inspect the plugs of the outed fixtures for signs of smoke or melted wire insulation, as both are signs of an electric short.

Another way to identify a short is to inspect the Amp level of the appliances. A multimeter (also known as an ohmmeter), can be found at any hardware store. Using this device, measure the prongs of the plugs to see if it has shorted.

You may also want to check the amp levels of the appliances in use. If you have a 15 Amp circuit and attempt to run more than 15 Amps at once, the breaker may have overloaded. For reference, small appliances like toasters and lamps draw about 3-4 Amps. Larger appliances such as dishwashers and dryers draw on 12-13 Amps.

Unplug the appliances and reset the breaker. If the problem continues even after replacing the fuse, it may be caused by a faulty breaker or wiring.

Isolate Circuit Breaker

An important thing to remember before working on any electrical circuit is to make sure there is no power in the circuit. This is done by turning off, or isolating, the breaker. A breaker is where every outlet in your home draws its power from, and every breaker has outlets on the same circuit.

This means various appliances in your home could run on a shared circuit. It’s essential to turn off your breaker before inspecting the circuits to avoid getting shocked. When in doubt, always contact a licensed, professional electrical team.

Use the multimeter to ensure the breaker is off by measuring its AC volts. When the device measures zero volts, the breaker is off. Repeat this process until the multimeter measures zero. Once no power is present, it is safe to remove the wall plate and begin to inspect the wires.

Inspect Wires

Using the multimeter, check the ohm levels of the exposed wires by placing one lead of the multimeter to the white wire and the other to the black wire. If the multimeter measures infinite ohms or O.L., this means the receptacle is the issue and must be replaced.

If the multimeter shows continuity, this means the short is located within the wire or breaker itself. If this is the case, remove the black wire from the terminal to isolate other receptacles from the line.

Run the ohm test again between the black and white wire. If the multimeter doesn’t show continuity, then replace the receptacle. If it continues to show continuity, the issue may lie in the cable and wires having a fault somewhere. Check to make sure there are no tears that may allow the bare copper to touch another wire and short out.

Contact a Professional

Electrical work can be complicated and sometimes even dangerous. If you suspect the electrical short in your home is due to a larger problem, it’s a good idea to turn to an electrician for service.

Our team at Blanco AC, Electric and Plumbing are trained to identify electrical problems safely and efficiently. Contact us today!



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