Circuit overload is a common problem when too much current flows through a circuit, exceeding the limited amount of electricity allowed. It can result in overheating, electrical fires, and damage to appliances and devices. Knowing the signs of circuit overload and how to prevent it is crucial to ensure safety and avoid costly repairs.
What Causes Circuit Overload?
An electrical overload can be due to various factors, including plugging too many appliances into a single outlet or power strip, using appliances that draw too much power for the circuit’s capacity, or faulty wiring.
Additionally, a sudden surge in the load on the circuit, such as when multiple appliances are on simultaneously, can trigger an overload.
Warning Signs of an Overloaded Circuit:
- Tripped circuit breakers
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Buzzing or humming sounds
- Burning smells
- Wires warm to the touch
Occasionally, an overload may cause a small explosion if any combustible materials are nearby.
Why is Overloading Circuits Dangerous?
When an electrical circuit is overloaded, the resulting power surge can cause damage to kitchen appliances and light fixtures, which in turn can cause house fires.
Overloaded circuits may also cause overheating, leading to the failure of circuit breakers. By failing to operate as intended, overloading circuits may also pose an electrocution hazard.
What Happens When You Overload a Circuit?
When a circuit is overloaded, it can no longer safely handle the amount of electricity flowing through it. The extension cords and components within the circuit become overheated, causing them to melt, short circuit, or even catch fire.
Additionally, an overloaded circuit causes breaker tripping, shutting off power to the affected area. This shutting can be inconvenient, but it’s a safety mechanism to prevent further damage.
Short Circuit vs Overload
While an overload results from too much current flowing through a circuit, a short circuit occurs when electricity follows an unintended path. A short circuit can happen when two bare wires touch or when a wire comes into contact with a conductive material, such as metal. Unlike an overload, a short circuit can cause a sudden, massive flow of electricity, resulting in sparks or even an explosion.
Both circuit overload and short circuits can cause circuit breakers trips, cutting off power to the affected area.
Dedicated circuits can help prevent both issues by ensuring a separate circuit for high-power appliances, reducing the chance of an overload or short circuit.
How to Fix Circuit Overload
Unplug Some Appliances
The easiest fix for an overload is to unplug some of the appliances or devices that are currently in use. Start by unplugging non-essential items like phone chargers or small appliances, and see if the overload resolves.
Spread Out the Load
If unplugging appliances is not an option, try to spread the load across multiple circuits. For example, avoid using all the kitchen appliances simultaneously and consider using a different circuit for high-power appliances like the microwave or dishwasher.
Upgrade the Circuit
If you consistently experience overloads, you may need to call Mister Sparky Electrician Cypress to upgrade the circuit or install a dedicated circuit for high-power appliances.
Replace Your Circuit Breakers
If your circuit is old, it may be time for a replacement. Doing this can help ensure your circuits are properly protected and can handle the load.
Switch Out the Circuit Breaker
For example, you can replace a 15 amp circuit breaker with a 20 amp to handle heavier loads.
Can Christmas Lights Overload a Circuit?
Christmas lights can overload a circuit if you plug too many into a single outlet or power strip. It’s, therefore, important to spread out the load across multiple circuits.
How to Prevent Circuit Overload
Electrical Panel Upgrade
An electrical panel upgrade can help prevent an overload by increasing the capacity of your electrical system. It means that your electrical panel upgrade will be able to handle more power and distribute it more evenly throughout your home, reducing the risk of overload.
Here at Mister Sparky Electrician Katy, we can help by recommending upgrades and installing new panels to improve your electrical system’s capacity.
Upgrading your panel can also help improve the safety and efficiency of your electrical system, reduce the risk of electrical fires and damage to appliances, and add value to your home. Don’t wait until you experience an overload. Get your electrical panel upgrade today and feel the change.
Get an Inspection from Mister Sparky Electrician Houston
We can identify potential hazards and recommend improving your electrical system’s safety and efficiency. Mister Sparky Electricians will also inspect your electrical panel, outlets, switches, and wiring to ensure they are up to code and can handle your home’s electrical needs.
Our expert team can also install dedicated circuits for high-power appliances and recommend upgrades to your electrical system if necessary.
Rewiring Your Home
Rewiring your home is another viable option to help reduce the risk of an overload. Older homes, especially, were not built to support the electrical load of a modern home. Updating your home’s wiring is a great way to prevent circuit overload.
Rewiring a home can be beneficial for redistributing power between appliances, outlets, and heating and cooling. Home and appliance rewiring will keep your home up to code and improve the efficiency of your electrical wiring system.
Hacks to Prevent Circuit Overload
[su_list icon=”icon: warning” icon_color=”#F7D325″]
- Use one appliance at a time: Use only one high-wattage appliance at a time to prevent overloading a circuit.
- Use power strips: Power strips can help distribute the load of several devices across multiple circuits.
- Spread out your devices: If you have several devices plugged into a single outlet, try spreading them across multiple outlets to reduce the load on each circuit.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs: Incandescent bulbs use more energy than LED bulbs and can contribute to overload.
- Avoid using extension cords: Extension cords can be convenient but also increase the risk of circuit overload.
How to Calculate Circuit Loads
When calculating circuit loads, you need to know the amperage of each device or appliance connected to the circuit. Add up the amperage of all the devices, and make sure the total doesn’t exceed the circuit’s capacity (typically listed on the circuit breaker).
The formula for calculating amperage is Amps = Watts / Volts.
Once you have calculated the amperage, you can determine if the circuit is overloaded and take steps to prevent damage or hazards.
Keep Your Home Safe: Understanding and Preventing Circuit Overload
When it comes to electrical safety, there’s never a time when you can be too cautious. It’s, therefore, important to take the necessary steps to limit circuit overload and prevent it from happening before an appliance damages your home or harms anyone. Contact Mister Sparky Electrician Houston today to stop your circuits from overloading!
Mister Sparky Electrician Houston, America’s On-Time Electrician, serves Houston, Texas and the cities of Katy, Sugar Land, Cypress, Spring, The Woodlands and others with a team of certified electricians. In addition to emergency electrical repairs, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections. Call us today at: (281) 907-8418.