It happens at least twice a day, we get a call that a breaker keeps tripping. “I don’t know why but my living room breaker keeps tripping.” Often, the culprit is an overloaded circuit. It’s one of the most common issues but it can cause more problems than just tripping the breaker.
6 warning signs that your circuit is overloaded:
- Dimming, flickering or blinking lights
- Discolored or warm outlet covers and wall plates
- Smell of burning coming from outlets or switches
- Buzzing, sizzling outlets
- Small electrical shocks from switches or outlets
- If your breakers trip frequently
One of the dangers of an overloaded circuit is a burnt-up outlet. You might be plugging too many things into an outlet. If you have a cell phone charger, a lamp, a small space heater and your laptop might all plugged into the same outlet be overloading it. I was talking to our contractor Bo earlier this week about this “Household outlets may not be rated for the same amount of energy that the breaker is. Sometimes the outlet can overheat and burn up before the breaker trips.”
4 tips to help prevent electrical overloads:
- Don’t use multi-outlet converters, you’re more likely to plug up too many devices this way.
- Don’t use power strips to give yourself additional outlets, these do NOT increase the amount of energy the outlet can handle.
- Major appliances such as heaters, refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers should ONLY be plugged directly into a wall outlet, NEVER with an extension cord. They should also be the only appliance plugged into the outlet.
- Do not rely on extension cords for regularly used devices.
- Get your outlets tested by a licensed electrician.
If you are relying on power strips and extension cords to power your devices this is a sign that you have too few outlets. It is imperative that you do not overload your circuits for the safety of your household wiring. It can prevent many future problems (including fires) to take this seriously. As always if you have any concerns feel free to have one of our friendly licensed electricians come and test your outlets or install new ones!