How Electric Circuits Go Wrong
A circuit provides a path for current to flow. To be a circuit, this path must start and end at the same point. It must form a free-flowing loop.
Why should a system with so few moving parts be subject to failures? Like every technological design we have in place today, eventually, things happen. Parts wear out. Even the best wire connectors could have been made from better parts.
Also, wear and tear happens simply from use. With current flowing through the wires again and again, wires and other connections create heat and other stresses that affect quality over time. Add in the fact that when electricity is repeatedly used, the item in question eventually begins to loosen, change, and adjust with the use. Outlets fail, prongs become worn, screws loosen. And eventually, things happen.
Workmanship comes into play. And very often, human error takes a key role.
Electrical problems vary greatly. And how you solve the problem depends on where the problem lies.
- Doesn’t work
- Blinks on and off, flickers
- Dims and brightens over time
- Can’t be turned off by the switch
- Creates shocks when touched
- Heat is generated
- Burning smell is present
In some cases, the problem stems from an overload. An overload occurs when in normal operation, a circuit carries a little too much current for a little too long. When the wires get too hot, or the load is more than the breaker will allow for safety, the breaker trips to prevent problems.
A short is an unintended connection from a hot wire to ground. It usually trips a breaker because the flow of current can potentially be huge. And because current still flows around the ungrounded starting point, it still is technically a live circuit.
An open wire connection refers to a break, a gap or deterioration somewhere along a circuit’s path. If a wire becomes too loose at its multiple connection points, then it can generate heat, or come apart altogether. This creates a loss of power for your circuit.
Poor workmanship can also cause miswiring problems. If the electrician did not take the time to make connections properly, or if you’ve been using an item for a while, it can create loss of power, or safety issues in your electrical system.
Switches, outlets, light fixtures, and other wiring often fail to operate as they should because of breakage, arcing, heat, internal wear, damage, corrosion or manual setting that have been changed, and especially poor installation. In most cases, these issues will be noticeable immediately, but not always, and it’s very important to have a professional diagnose the problem to make sure it doesn’t affect your safety.
While it may be easy to pinpoint where the problem originates from, troubleshooting and fixing the problem for good should always be left to the professionals with proper certification in handling electrical problems.
What electrical problems exist within your home?