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  • Writer's pictureModern Electrical Group

Circuit Overloads

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Are you pushing your circuits to their limit?

One of the obvious signs of this happening is when you turn on an appliance such as the vacuum and your power goes out!

This is not a sign that vacuuming should be cancelled for the day and you should kick your feet up but it is a sure sign that you just overloaded your circuit and your circuit breaker (fuses) kicked in to provide the protection that they are intended for.

electrical switchboard

What is an electrical circuit overload and how does it happen?

When you have maximised the limits of your circuit and you are attempting to use more energy than the circuit allows.

Without the protective actions of a circuit breaker to stop the energy flow at the point of capacity, your wiring will heat up due to the overload and potentially cause an electrical fire.

I think we would all opt for the power tripping instead to assess the situation..

The most common reason is because you have too many appliances plugged into the one circuit. If you have larger appliances in use at the same time that are on the same circuit (such as the oven, microwave, dishwasher, and washing machine) this can lead to overloading.

Piggybacking adapters is also asking for trouble and a sure way to overload your circuit.

Look out for signs

  • Dimming or flickering lights

  • Buzzing outlets or switches

  • Warm outlets or switch covers

  • Mild shock from appliances: If you have overloaded circuits, you may get a mild shock or tingle from appliances, receptacles, or switches

  • Burning smells or marks on outlets or switches (this would be urgent!)

Energy saving

If you have the option and means, consider upgrading to energy saving appliances. This will be of great benefit to reducing the amount of power being loaded to your circuit. It is also eco-friendly, reduces your bills and is generally safer to use multiple appliances at once if required. Refer to energy star ratings when making your next purchase

Top 6 appliances that consume the most energy

  • Fridge

  • Oven

  • Washing Machine

  • Clothes Dryer

  • Air Conditioner

  • Home Entertainment

If your house was built 35-40 years ago, old wiring can also cause circuit overloads. A lot has changed in that time with how we use appliances and the modern tech gadgets that all require powerpoints so single circuits that were originally installed to power several rooms at once just cannot cope with any extra energy delivery. If this is the case for you, speak to us about installing new circuits to spread the load.

Then there is the faulty appliance – if your circuit is tripping and it’s unlikely to be an overload, it’s most likely the appliance you are attempting to use.

Most appliances will have a tag or stamp to show what the appliance wattage is. Once you know the wattage of some appliances, think about how long the device is used for while considering standby power.

Once you know how much power your appliances use, for how long, and how many are operating on the same circuit, you should refer to your circuit breaker to find out how many amps or watts it can safely load before it short-circuits.

If you are seeing signs of frequent overloads and want to discuss splitting the load, upgrading old wiring or want to be sure that your wiring is protected safely and correctly, reach out to chat to us today. We service all over Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula!

overloaded powerboard

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