How To Tell If A Circuit Is Overloaded In Your Home (And What To Do)
An overloaded circuit usually keeps tripping, cutting off power to that part of the house. You may also notice appliances or electronics not working correctly, warm or buzzing switches and outlets, scorch marks on outlets and plugs, or getting mild electrical shocks.
If you think a circuit in your home is overloaded, turn off lights, devices, and appliances in the part of the house that’s affected. Shut off service to that circuit from the breaker if you can.
Then call an electrician because you don’t want to risk a fire or damaged appliances.
This is a problem that’s becoming more common all the time. We have more electronics at home than ever before. And, sometimes it seems like there are not enough outlets for them all!
It happens everywhere, but we see it a lot in the older homes all over Abington, Elkins Park, and down in Chestnut Hill and Northwest Philly. They’re beautiful houses, some of which are over a century old.
But, many don’t have outlets every six feet like with newer construction. And, many of them still have 100 AMP service instead of 200 AMP. The upgraded panels are much better for today’s electrical loads.
As a result, people run extension cords or string surge protectors together to power everything. That draws way too much power through a single circuit — especially for an older panel that wasn’t designed with today’s uses in mind.
And, it’s not just older homes or due to older panels or having too many things running at once. You could have grounding issues or bad wiring sending too much power through your panel. It’s something you want a professional to troubleshoot, so you’re sure you solved the problem.
We’ll walk you through everything you need to know in this article: What an overloaded circuit is, how to spot the warning signs, and what to do about them.
Please call us at (215) 768-8102 immediately if you have any questions or concerns about your home in Philadelphia, Bucks, or Montgomery County. Your Home Solutions is open 24/7, and when you call, you’ll speak directly to a live electrician.
Phone consultations are free, and we are always here to help!
What Is An Overloaded Circuit?
An overloaded circuit is when an electric circuit is trying to use more electricity than it was designed to handle. When that happens, the wires will literally heat up and eventually cause a fire. There are often warning signs before that, including getting electric shocks from appliances or outlets, problems with electronics, and damage to the outlets and switches.
Why Is An Overloaded Circuit Dangerous?
An overloaded circuit is dangerous because of the risk of injury or damage to the home. Excess electricity can cause electric shocks from outlets, switches, and appliances. Eventually, the wires get hot enough to cause an explosion at the switch or outlet or a fire behind the walls.
Four Warning Signs Of An Overloaded Circuit You Shouldn’t Ignore
Four warning signs of an overloaded electrical circuit are:
- Circuit Breakers Keep Tripping
- Outlets Or Switches Are Warm Or Buzzing
- Appliances, Tools, Or Electronics Don’t Work As Well
- Mild Electric Shocks From Appliances, Switches, Or Outlets
- Scorch Marks On Plugs Or Outlets
We’ll touch on each one a little more, but it’s essential to address the problem right away. Otherwise, you could damage the wiring, get electrocuted, or have a fire break out. Circuit Breakers Keep Tripping Remember: when a circuit breaker that keeps tripping isn’t broken! It’s doing its job by cutting off the power when the load is too strong and dangerous as a result. An overloaded circuit will trip over and over again.
Appliances, Tools, Or Electronics Don’t Work As Well
Appliances, plug-in tools, and electronics require an even current to do their jobs. That won’t happen if they get overloaded or the current ebbs and flows. Eventually, anything from your dishwasher to your T.V. or laptop will stop working because the inner components are burned out or otherwise damaged.
Outlets Or Switches Are Warm Or Buzzing
Warm or buzzing outlets or switches is a severe problem that requires immediate attention! The current is so strong that, essentially, the wiring can’t contain it. That’s when insulation behind the walls and around the wiring catches fire. Or the current jumps to your plumbing, and you get electric shocks from faucets and showers.
Mild Electric Shocks From Appliances, Switches, Or Outlets
Tingling sensations or mild shocks from outlets, switches, or especially appliances are signs of an overloaded circuit. At that point, your system is overloaded, and you have a fire risk in your home. That’s especially so if it’s so bad that you’re getting shocked by the excess power. It’s worth noting that a loose connection can also shock you from an outlet or switch. But, if that’s happening along with other problems, the cause is much more likely the circuit.
Scorch Marks On Plugs Or Outlets
Think of scorch marks as the next after getting those mild electric shocks. At this point, you’re starting to see damage from the overload coming through the wiring. Components are beginning to heat up and melt. At that point, they can catch fire. If you haven’t already, you must call an electrician ASAP. Your home is at risk of a fire.
How To Fix An Overloaded Circuit
Ultimately, you need an electrician to fix an overloaded circuit. They need to rewire part of the panel so that one circuit doesn’t have to draw too much power. But, you can take a few steps in the meantime to prevent any further damage.
Start by unplugging as many electronics or appliances as you can in the affected parts of the house. If you can, flip off the breaker, so there’s no electricity coming through.
It’s inconvenient, but it’s the best way to prevent a fire from breaking out behind the walls of your home. That’s what happens when the wires overheat — especially if they’re surrounded by old insulation.
Emergency Electrician In Blue Bell, PA, And Nearby Towns
Your Home Solutions is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you need an emergency electrician in your Blue Bell, PA home. We’ve served Montgomery, Bucks County, and Philadelphia since 2008. Call us at (215) 768-8102, and you’ll speak to a live electrician right away.