Electrical Circuit Overload is exceeding the rated load for the circuit wiring causes the circuit breaker to trip, shutting off the power to the entire electrical circuit. Without circuit breakers, if the circuit was overloaded, it could cause the wiring to overheat, melt the wiring insulation which in turn could, and would lead to a fire.
How will I know if my circuit is overloaded?
There are a few warning signs to show that your circuit may be overloaded and the following are likely to be the most common.
- The lights flicker, dim or blink
- The circuit breakers are regularly tripping or fuses keep blowing
- Possible cracking and buzzing noises heard from the sockets or other receptacles
- Smell of burning coming from the sockets or other receptacles
- A light shock or tingle from appliances, sockets, other receptacles, and switches
What Are The Main Causes for an Overloaded Circuit?
When a circuit receives more current than it should, which may be caused by loose, corroded wires or connections, this can cause overload. Most often, the overloaded circuit is caused because there are simply far too many appliances plugged into the circuit as well as the possibility of a faulty appliance.
How To Check If My Circuit is Overloaded or I Have a Faulty Appliance
- First of all, turn off and unplug all appliances, extension leads, lamps, other electrical devices / appliances plugged into the circuit that keeps tripping.
- Go to the consumer unit / Distribution Board and reset the switch that is applicable to this circuit. If this will not reset, then there is a likelihood that a switch, socket or other receptacle may have a short to it and you should not force the switch, and call an Electrician.
- If you are able to reset the circuit switch in the consumer unit / Distribution Board, then plug in and turn on each of the appliances. If at the plugging in stage the circuit trips, then there is likely to be a problem with the appliance cord or plug, but if it trips when turning on the appliance, then there is a likely to be a problem with the appliance itself. Try plugging the possibly defective appliance on another circuit to determine whether this is the case.
- If all items are plugged back in and switched on and the circuit does not trip, then there may have been a temporary power surge or overload which may have been caused momentarily whilst an appliance increased its demand for power usually by human usage habits.
- At NO point must you hold the switches in the ‘on position’ in the consumer unit / distribution board as this is likely to result in more damage and can ultimately lead to a fire.
If you are unsure or are concerned at any time regarding circuit overload and tripping of the Circuit switches then DO NOT hesitate to contact an Electrician who would be able to sort and advise accordingly.
Appliances and Extension Leads
Whilst every reputable conforming Manufacturer executes such high standards of production with regards to safety, there are many counterfeit and non UK compliant products readily available at a steal of the normal price for electrical appliances. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are not safe and likely to go up in flames or breakdown, it just often means that there is a much higher chance of things going wrong due to lack of rigorous testing or substandard components, including wiring standards etc.
Very many of us are familiar with the grabbing of an extension lead and plugging the odd few things into it, but some do not consider the quantity, let alone the quality of leads they are using, especially where extension leads are plugged into further extension leads and appliances plugged accordingly just to get them to reach around a room.
When carrying out EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Reports) or other maintenance including these kind of circuit tripping issues, electricians very often come across the worrying sight of extension leads (filled with appliances) and in turn plugged into a 3 way adapter or something of the like due to lack of sockets, but whilst you may believe these are a cheap option and an easy solution, these are the cause of a very great many fires and are an endangerment to life.