Homes run on electricity, from the numerous appliances to digital equipment to even holiday lighting. Using too many electrical devices at once can cause an overloaded circuit—and the unit will immediately shut off. Here are further causes of overloaded circuits and handy prevention tips.
Given the tremendous amount of electricity used in the home, the circuit breaker is essential. It is one of the home’s most important safety mechanisms. When excess electrical current flows through the wiring, it is the circuit breaker’s job to automatically shut off the power.
Without circuit breakers (alternately known as fuses) a surge in household electricity could lead to the breakout of a house fire. Circuit breakers and fusers monitor a household’s electrical currents. These simple devices serve a critical purpose in preventing potentially deadly situations.
Fires occur when the circuit wire overheats and its insulation melts. The various circuits throughout the home possess differing load ratings, which means some circuits are able to provide more electricity and others less. Surpassing the load rating causes a circuit breaker to trip.
Household appliances and gadgets that are on the same circuit should be monitored. By knowing which electrical devices use the same circuit, a homeowner can determine how many devices he can operate on that single circuit without risking an immediate shutoff of power.
For example, a toaster oven is known to draw high levels of power. Upon turning on the toaster oven, the kitchen lights may suddenly dim. A homeowner will then recognize that the toaster oven and lights are on the same circuit, and maxing out the circuit capacity is highly likely.
In ideal setups, each household electrical device will have its own circuit, especially any piece of equipment that requires over 1000 watts. Examples of devices that ought to have a dedicated circuit include the space heater, air conditioner, furnace and electric dryer.
Other common household electrical devices that function safely and optimally with their own circuits are washers and dryers, large toasters, garbage disposals, dishwashers, hot tubs and electric ranges. It is acceptable, however, to have multiple outlets and switches on an individual circuit.
Overloaded circuits can be readily identified by seeing or hearing any one of a number of common scenarios. Lights may flicker, blink or dim as other appliances or additional lights are turned on. The outlets or switches may release buzzing, crackling or sizzling sounds.
Outlet covers may feel warm upon touching them; or, wall plates may appear discolored. Scorched plugs or outlets are also key signs of a circuit overload. On some occasions, homeowners may smell a burning odor from the wall switches or receptacles.
Homeowners confronted with an overloaded circuit will notice that power tools, appliances or electronics diminish in power. Upon touching the appliances, receptacles or switches, the homeowner may feel a mild shock or tingle. Frequently blown fuses are also indicative of overloaded circuits.
Regular inspections of the home’s wiring prevent overloaded circuits and ensure fire safety. Upon examining the outside part of the wiring (insulator), look for cracks or breaks. Damage to the insulator is an indication of an overloaded circuit and overheating, which can cause electrical fires.
A home’s outlets should meet the occupants’ daily needs. Relying heavily on extension cords suggests that the home has too few outlets to serve the household needs. The simple remedy to this predicament is to hire a qualified electrician to inspect the home and add more outlets.
Savvy homeowners understand how the circuit breaker works. Each switch on the panel corresponds to a particular circuit in the home and is labeled for individual appliances or areas, like the kitchen. Older homes often have outdated technology, which are fire hazards and should be upgraded.
Major appliances should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. At the same time, each heat-producing appliance should have its own designated outlet (don’t plug in more than one major appliance into a single outlet). Alternately, move plug-in appliances to circuits that are utilized less.
Avoid using too many electrical devices simultaneously. For instance, while vacuuming, turn off the television. In the kitchen, space out the toaster oven, mixer and microwave to prevent an electrical overload to one circuit. Or, unplug the appliances when they are not in use.
When twisting light bulbs into lighting fixtures, always use the appropriate watt bulb. A larger watt bulb can spark a fire. Lighting loads may be decreased by using energy efficient LED lighting or CFL (fluorescent) bulbs instead of incandescent or halogen light bulbs.
Each year, nearly 50,000 home fires in the United States are caused by electrical malfunctions or failures. Along with injury and death, over one billion dollars in property damages occur. The risk of residential fires can be reduced by preventing overloaded circuits.
When an electrical fire breaks out, homeowners are advised to call a reputable fire damage restoration service as soon as the flames are extinguished. ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration is prepared to protect your home environment from further smoke and soot damage.
Smoke and soot are corrosive byproducts of fire. These particles can eat away at porous materials, leaving lasting damage behind. ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration technicians are experts at fire restoration and smoke damage cleanup. We’ll return your ruined home to its pre-loss condition.
Extinguishing the initial flames with fire hoses can lead to substantial water damage. ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration specialists are also skilled in water damage restoration. Our comprehensive services give homeowners the opportunity to resolve fire, smoke and water damage at once.
Countless residential homeowners and business owners in Quincy, IL and the surrounding areas count on ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration for prompt and professional service. We are available to respond to local emergencies 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Give us a call at (866) 801-2653 when disaster strikes!