Causes of short circuit. And how to avoid short circuit?

Causes of short circuit. And how to avoid short circuit?
causes of short circuit

Causes of Short Circuit

To discuss the causes of short circuit we are going to define short circuit first. Electric current always follows a low resistance path. The electric circuit consists of an established element while the current flows through an established way. Sometimes the electric conductors are loosely connected and during the circuit operation current leaks.

Another way is when a hot wire connects with a neutral wire in the absence of load or resistive element. A large amount of current flows in the unexpected pathway. That causes a short circuit and causes circuit breaker tripping. There are different causes of short circuit. we are going to discuss each in detail.

Why is a short circuit dangerous؟

When should know the effects of the short circuit before answering the common question. why is a short circuit dangerous?. Short circuit is not just a case that could affect electrical devices but also it can cause fire and human injury. This is because it has thermal and mechanical effect. The high temperature which is produced during it is enough to melt electrical conductors such as copper and aluminum. While the mechanical power is enough to damage the device, circuit breakers, bus bars and panels.

If the protection device failed to switch off power and the short circuit remained for longer periods then it could cause fire.

For humans the danger of SC may cause serious injuries and burns even it could cause death.


Types of short circuit

The value of short circuit current depends on some factors such as load value and type, also the short circuit type.

  1. Phase to phase.
  2. Phase to ground.

Faulty Circuit or Wire Insulation

Faulty circuit or wire insulation is the first reason. Because sometimes cable core becomes damage with the passage of time. The inner wire material is exposed. Due to which old wires allow the hot and neutral wire to touch each others, this causes a short circuit condition. The life span for a cable is up to forty years. Another reason is, sometimes fault occurs in a circuit. Sometimes faulty appliances like faulty power cord, faulty plug, or a flaw cause short.

Loose Wire connection

To keep the current flowing in the circuit, strong connectors are always needed. If the connector becomes loose, there is a chance for the electricity to pass to the neutral wire or a grounded part of the circuit. This phenomenon also becomes the causes of short circuit. To avoid chances of short circuit the faulty wire connection needs to be inspected and fixed. However, the handling of faulty wiring is a tricky job and is best handled by an expert technician.

Faulty Appliance

If we plug an electrical appliance in the plug. If there is a fault in a device the current flows can cause a short circuit immediately.

Human faults

Some times humans make mistakes while working on electricity and power cables. Some mistakes are because some electricians are not following HSE and electrical safety procedures and electrical isolation and LOTO system. These mistakes could cause electrical connection between two different phases causing electrical short.

Using not isolated hand tools could accidentally connect tow phases directly causing short. SO its important for each electricians to apply proper isolation lockout and tag out (LOTO) system. And also use proper isolated hand tools. 

How to avoid causes of short circuit?

We can avoid short circuits in different ways. If we follow any of the methods in a proper way. It will limit the short circuit chances.

Use of Fuses or Circuit Breaker

Protective devices like fuses and circuit breakers stop the occurrence of short circuit. Whenever any irregularity occurs in the electrical system. The protective devices like fuses and circuit breakers sense it in advance and automatically activate.

GFCI - ground fault circuit interrupter
GFCI – ground fault circuit interrupter

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)

Sometimes short circuit occurs due to sparking .Because the sparking occurs due to loose connections. AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters) anticipates short circuits and shuts the power off before the faulty condition occurs.

Human good training

All electricians should be well trained to apply proper isolation lockout and tag out (LOTO) system. And also use proper isolated hand tools. This way we could prevent and avoid serious faults and human injury.

What to do in case of short circuit

If you are not an electrician or electrical engineer. Then dealing with short circuit need to be focused. If a circuit breaker trips instantly this is a strong indication that the circuit breaker tripping is due to a short in the circuit not due to overload. Follow the below steps in case of your breaker trips instantly.

  1. Switch off all devices and appliances which are affected by the tripped breaker.
  2. Check your electricity box and find the tripped breaker. It should be on the off position.
  3. Switch on the circuit breaker.
  4. Turn on all devices one by one. The faulty device will cause the breaker to trip instantly as you turn it on.
  5. Call electrical inspection service to check this device for you.
circuit breaker tripping
circuit breaker tripping