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What Causes A Short Circuit? – How To Fix

A short circuit is an electrical issue where a large amount of electricity flows in a different direction than usual. Short circuits occur from many different reasons and there are ways to both prevent and fix them. The Local Electrician is here with our Emergency Electrician team to help fix short circuits. 

A short circuit is often caused by faulty wiring insulation, loose wiring connections or faulty appliance wiring. Short circuits issues can be fixed through:

  • Finding the tapped circuit breaker
  • Inspecting all appliance power cords if they have tripped
  • Turning off all appliances and lights
  • Turning back on the appliances and lights to inspect for trips
  • Have an electrician repair the wiring problem caused bu the short circuit
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Define a Short Circuit

When electricity within electrical circuits diverts from its usual path this is what causes the issue of a short circuit. The reason it is called a short circuit is that the electricity completes its circuit journey sooner. The shorter distance could mean that it makes contact with humans to electrical appliances. 

This “leak” of the electrical current has the electricity want to return to ground as soon as possible. This is why it will divert to a new surface or source which can lead to devastating issues. With the surface having less resistance than the copper wire the electricity will flow from its original path.

What Causes a Short Circuit

There are three main types of ways which a short circuit can happen and cause potential issues to occur. 

Faulty Wiring Insulation 

Damaged or older wiring might have the insulation broken which can expose the neutral and hot wires. If these touch they can often lead to short circuits and other potential hazards. Along with age, screw and nail punctures can damage the wire’s insulation. Also, animals and pests might chew at the wire causing the wires to be damaged. 

Loose Wiring Connections

The connections and attachments within wiring systems might become loose as time passes. If this happens then the neutral and lives wires in the system might touch. This will cause electrical issues and a professional will need to solve the dilemma. 

Faulty Appliance Wiring

Appliances can cause a short circuit as they extend the circuit. If there are any issues with the appliance wiring then the circuit could overall be exposed to dangerous situations. Appliances which are older or broken are more likely to have short circuits and also other problems within their plugs.

Types of Short Circuits

There are two main types of short circuit issues, being the classic short circuit and the ground fault. These have the electrical flow disrupted in some way by a flaw or issue in the wiring system. 

Short Circuit

This circuit issue is when a hot live wire makes contact with the neutral wire and is the more common dilemma. The resistance decreases instantly and at the same time, a large volume will flow in a different direction. The classic short circuit might cause sparks, crackling noises or have flames develop. 

Ground Fault

A ground fault is when a hot wire which is carrying current makes contact with the grounded part of the system. This might include a bare copper ground wire, the grounded part of an appliance to a grounded metal box. The resistance decrease which will cause a large increase in the voltage to flow in a different path. The chance for fire is not as high but the chance of shock is increased.

How to Prevent a Short Circuit

Classic short circuits and ground faults need proper protections, here are the three ways to protect from these issues:

  • Circuit Breakers and Fuses – these devices are needed to be installed in all homes and buildings. They are within the main electrical panel and control their won individual circuit system. They will detect a short and quickly cut off the electrical supply to that system. 
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters – these are similar to circuit breakers but specifically project from ground faults. These are more sensitive and work faster as ground faults can cause serious issues to people.

How to Repair a Short Circuit

Short circuits will often have the circuit breaker trip and cause the specific electrical circuit to shut off. If it is detected that a short circuit has occurred follow these steps:

  1. Locate where the tripped circuit is located by inspecting the main service panel. An individual circuit should be snapped to the OFF position or a light might be red or orange. Keep the circuit OFF while continuing with the next steps.
  2. Inspect appliances and their power cords which are plugged into outlets connected to that circuit. Look for melted insulation as this can indicate that the circuit has tripped. Ensure to safely unplug these devices from the outlet and switch the circuit breaker back on. If it works without tripping then the appliance was to the cause of the short circuit.
  3. Turn off all lights and other appliances within the circuit and turn the circuit back to ON. Turn all the lights and appliances on to see if the circuit breaker trips again. This will help determine if there are loose connections or other wiring issues. 
  4. After inspecting the system a fully qualified electrician should be contacted to repair the problem. The repair often involves shutting off the circuit and repairing all damages. 

It is important to check these wiring systems and appliance when they are not live with electricity. We encourage reading our blog ‘how to test if an electrical wire is live’ to know how to properly ensure electricity is not present.

Reliable Short Circuit Electricians

The emergency electricians here at The Local Electrician can work all over Sydney to repair short circuit problems. We operate safely and are guaranteed to repair the systems from the short circuit dilemma.

We offer Level 2 Electrician services as well for us to handle more advanced and complicated wok. Operating across Sydney, from Greater Western Sydney to the Eastern Suburbs, we will repair all short circuits.


When needing professional electricians to perform safely electrical inspections – contact The Local Electrician now on 0439 823 190!

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Our skilled electricians are qualified to carry out any electrical repair or installation within Sydney. We strive to deliver absolute customer satisfaction by offering electrical services that are affordable, safe and long lasting.

Hamish Baker