A circuit is a path through which electricity flows. A short circuit emerges when the passage of electricity deviates from its planned path.
It doesn’t matter whatever the source of the disruption is; you must handle a short as soon as possible.
Otherwise, the short might endanger you, the appliances or breakers, or worse, cause a fire.
This is why it is essential to know how to find a short in the house wiring, so if you ever encounter such a situation, you know exactly what to do.
If you are in a situation where when you plugged in or switched in the appliance, there are blown fuses, a tripped breaker, or a popping sound, it means there is a chance of a short circuit.
After you have figured out exactly what the cause is and the location of the short, you can work on how to fix it. So without further ado, let’s get right into how you can find a short circuit in the house wiring.
Tools You Will Need
To get started, bring out all the tools you will need so that you don’t have to go back and forth during the whole project. You will need a multimeter, an ohmmeter, long nose pliers, and a number 1 Robertson screwdriver.
If you don’t have the specific screwdriver, you can also use a ¼’ inch blade instead.
It can take you up to 1-3 hours to find a short circuit in house wiring. Keep the duration in mind and take out enough time so you can focus on the task without getting distracted.
Step 1: Search for any appliances that could have been shorted
This preliminary step is possibly the most crucial. Carry out a thorough inspection and search the whole house. Look for every plug, kitchen and home appliance, and even lights that may have stopped working because of the short circuit.
The chances are that any appliance, charger, or fan you plugged in just before the short circuit occurred is the most obvious suspect. Suppose you know which electrical appliance caused the short circuit to unplug it.
Please take out your ohmmeter and use it to check for shorts across both flat prongs. Suppose your appliance is a fully functional move to other appliances connected to the same circuit.
It would help if you searched around it, what you are looking for is a high-power device, such as a heater or an oven, which has recently been used and is taking an excessive amount of electricity from the breaker.
Step 2: Unplug all your appliances
None of the appliances may be shorted.
Do keep in mind that despite this, the same circuit may be the reason behind the short circuit. There’s a chance that the breaker tripped itself. This could be because you are probably using an appliance that has overloaded the circuit.
For example, if your regular circuit around the house is wired on 15amps, electricity is being used by lights and appliances.
Add another heavy appliance such as a toaster on top, and you have a circuit that is drawing in more electricity than it can hold.
To verify that it isn’t due to a short anywhere down the line, turn off and disconnect everything on that circuit, then turn the breaker back on. .
If the circuit breaker continues to trip or the fuse blows, the culprit might be a defective breaker, receptacle, switch, or light socket, or a short in the wiring. If the breaker continues to trip even though there is nothing plugged left in the circuit, the problem is inside the walls.
Step 3: Find the problem breaker
It’s time to get your hands dirty and do some work on the electrical circuit. First and foremost, remember that ensuring your safety is pertinent.
Therefore head to where the breaker is located and switch it off if you already haven’t done so. Use a multi-meter to be double sure that there is no electricity flowing through the circuit. Change the settings to AC volts.
If you don’t know how to use one, don’t worry; I will explain the whole process. The first thing you need to do is put the metal probes into the receptacle you think has the issue. You need to ensure that the reading comes out to be zero to start your work.
In case that’s not the case, and you are still getting a reading, you are probably checking the wrong breaker.
To find the problem breaker repeat the steps I have mentioned above. Once you are certain that the power is completely switched off, you need to pull out the wall plug.
Just take off the wall plate and take it out. The objective is to expose the wires so you can inspect the root cause.
Step 4: Check the Terminal Boxes
You must have already switched off the breaker, meaning that there shouldn’t be any electricity flowing. This means you are ready for the next step, which is to check the wiring for short.
Start by switching the multimeter on and changing the settings to Ohms this time around. Examine the wires for shorts by connecting one of the meter’s leads to the black wire and the other to the white wire.
If the meter reads infinite ohms or O.L., the receptacle and its circuit up to the breaker are ok. The breaker, on the other hand, might have degraded and tripped due to a decreased current flow which is what lead you to suspect a short circuit in the first place.
In this situation, an electrician will be needed to replace the main panel. If the meter reads continuity, there is a short circuit, which might be caused by a broken breaker, a bad wire, or a faulty socket or switch.
Strip the black wire from the terminal to disconnect the receptacle or other devices from the line, and then repeat the continuity test between the black and white wires.
If there is no continuity, repair the defective receptacle or switch; if there is still a short, the problem is farther down the line. Inspect the cable and all of its wires for signs of wear or cuts, revealing bare copper that might meet anywhere and cause a short circuit.
If everything is in order, reconnect the black wire to its original terminal and replace it in the box.
Then, continue to the next electrical box along the circuit and repeat the operation, removing each faulty wall plug, switch, and light connection from the list.
If, in the end, none of the electrical box’s devices is the source of the short circuit, it is most likely caused by a faulty breaker.
Frequently Asked Questions
You might have some last-minute questions or need clarity on specific procedures. If that is the case, refer to the most frequently asked questions that I have answered related to the topic.
- How do I find a short circuit wire in my house?
You can find a short circuit with the help of a multimeter after you have isolated the problem breaker. Examine the wires for shorts by connecting one meter lead to the black wire and the other to the white wire.
If the meter reads infinite ohms or O.L., there is no issue with the circuit. For more details, refer to the steps mentioned above.
- How do I know if my house has electrical problems?
Your house might have electrical problems if you smell unfamiliar burning odor randomly, flickering lights, buzzing sounds if there are sparks every time you plug in an appliance, etc.
- What are three warning signs of an overloaded electrical circuit?
An overloaded electrical circuit might have signs such as lights that flicker, blink, or fade. The circuit breakers or fuses may get tripped or blown frequently, and wall plates that are warm or stained.
- What happens if there is a short circuit?
Short circuits occur when a hot wire comes into contact with a conductive object that is not supposed to be there. A short circuit can cause device failure, electrocution, and even a fire.
I hope you found this step to step guide useful but do remember that your safety is the most important; hence don’t be afraid to contact professionals at any moment during the entire procedure since wiring and electrical work can be harmful if not executed properly.
If you’ve detected or fear that there’s a short circuit in your house and feel uncertain about your level of expertise, call experts for a check-up that might be the best choice.