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Pacific Sheet Metal Blog

What is an Electrical Short?

Posted by Joey Haack on Oct 11, 2018 2:16:00 PM | Updated on 07/16/20 3:55 PM


An electrical short, or short circuit, is a low-resistance connection between two conductors (objects that allow electricity to flow through them) that are supplying electricity to a circuit. A short occurs when a current follows an unintended path, bypassing the route it’s supposed to take.


What can cause a short circuit?

Shorts can occur when an electrical wire carrying current touches another wire or when insulation is worn down or damaged and the live wire is exposed. A number of events can cause short circuits in your home. If a connection becomes loose, a wire could sag and come into contact with another wire. Nails and screws can puncture wiring and lead to deterioration. Pests—like mice and squirrels—have also been known to chew into home wiring and cause shorts.

Another common culprit is old age. When the insulation or casing surrounding a wire begins to deteriorate, it leaves the wire exposed. An electrical system typically will last 30–40 years before it needs to be replaced. If your system is close to this age, call an electrician to inspect it for you; it’s likely time for an update. Keep your home safe and avoid the chance for an electrical fire.


How can I tell if I have a short?

If fuses in your home repeatedly blow or your circuit breaker trips frequently, you have a short somewhere.


Is a short circuit dangerous?

Short circuits can produce high temperatures and can result in melting or exploding wires, damaged circuits, or fire. If you have a short, address the problem immediately.


Why do they say not to stick a knife in the toaster?

You’ve probably been told at some point in your life never to stick a metal utensil into the toaster to pull out your hot toast or bagel. This is because metal is a conductor, and with it, you’ll be creating a path of less resistance (a short circuit) for electricity to travel, which will likely result in a bad shock and a ruined toaster.


If you think you may have an electrical short or you need other electrical repairs in your home, give us a call! We have electricians on staff trained to fix most electrical problems. Visit our Plumbing and Electrical Services page for a list of services we offer, and don’t hesitate to ask us if we repair anything that isn’t listed! 

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Topics: electrical