What Are Three Warning Signs of An Overloaded Electrical Circuit?

Overloading an electrical circuit can result in dangerous sparks and even a fire.

Here are three Warning signs of an overloaded electrical circuit:

  1. Flickering Lights
  2. Strange Noises
  3. Burning smells from outlets or switches

We’ll go into more detail below:

An overloaded electrical circuit can result in issues like blown fuses, tripped breakers, and fire risks because too much power flows through one area of the circuit or something in the circuit blocks the flow of electricity.

When too many items are running on one circuit, overload occurs because there is a greater demand for electricity than the circuit can safely handle. A circuit breaker will trip, cutting off the power supply to the circuit, if the load on the circuit exceeds the load for which it was intended.  

But more things than ever before are being plugged in due to our growing dependence on technology, particularly cell phones and other electronics. Unfortunately, that increases the likelihood that a circuit may be overloaded and a fire will break out in your house.

How Do Overloads in Electrical Circuits Work?

Each operating gadget adds to the circuit’s overall LOAD by using electricity. The circuit breaker trips when the rated load for the circuit wiring is exceeded, cutting off electricity to the entire circuit.

In the absence of a circuit breaker, an overload would cause the wiring to heat up, melt the wire insulation, and start a fire. The load ratings of various circuits vary, allowing specific circuits to produce more electricity than others.

Nothing can stop us from plugging in too many devices on the same circuit, even if home electrical systems are made to accommodate regular household consumption. 

circuit electrical panel

Flickering or Dimming Lights

When you manually turn on or off your lights, they can flicker, which could mean that your circuit is overloaded. 

If a light bulb burns out in a different room, that excess current might lead to issues with other electronics, which might also mean a problem with another appliance in your home. If you see flickering in your house, check for burned-out bulbs.

Strange Noises

An overloaded circuit may also emit unusual sounds like crackling or popping, typically caused by arcing in the wires and insulation failure in electrical appliances. Turn off the power to any item of equipment making sizzling noises immediately since it may be a sign that something is on fire inside of it.

Burning Smells from Outlets or Switches

When you smell burnt electrical in your home, a problem is present. A mix of plastic melting and heat, and sometimes a “fishy smell,” characterizes the scent of electrical burning. It denotes the likelihood of a short fire because the wires are melting.

circuit overload and causes fire

If you can locate the circuit, turn it off. If not, turn off all of your power until you can. The excessive heat produced by wiring too many devices leads to its occurrence.

How to Avoid an Overloaded Electrical Circuit Board?

  • Consider adding more power outlets if you frequently use extension cables to reduce the likelihood of a circuit board overload.
  • When not in use, switch off appliances.
  • LED lights that save energy should be used in place of conventional lighting.
  • Install surge protectors and circuit breakers.
  • Throw away any broken or old appliances. 
  • Install extra circuits to accommodate new appliances.
  • To prevent emergency repairs and spot any problems early on, have a certified electrician evaluate your electrical circuits, switchboards, and safety switches once a year.

What Leads to a Circuit Being Overloaded?

Electrical systems in homes are designed for typical household usage. However, issues might occur if too many appliances are plugged into one circuit simultaneously. Attaching more devices to wall outlets or extension wires is a different problem.

A circuit breaker will trip and shut down the entire circuit if the load rating for the circuit wiring is exceeded. Without a breaker, an overload could cause the insulation on the circuit wiring to melt and start a fire.

But the wrong kind of breaker or fuse can render this safety feature ineffective, so it’s strongly advised to prioritize safety to avoid overloads in the first place.

Wrapping Up

Warning Signs

  • Flickering or dimming lights, especially when you turn on appliances or additional lights.
  • Buzzing sounds coming from switches or outlets.
  • Covers for switches or outlets that feel warm to the touch.
  • A burning odor comes from switches or outlets. 

Call a certified electrician immediately if you see any warning signs in your house. The efficient operation of your home’s electrical system is therefore vital.

You may quickly solve these issues and restore things to regular operation with routine inspections from an electrician or a do-it-yourself test from your neighborhood hardware shop.

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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