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How to Locate an Electrical Short

The symptoms of an electrical short are easy to notice, frequently a blown fuse or no power to parts of the home. Finding where the short occurs is much more difficult. Shorts occur due to wiring problems, bad switches and plugs, or defective appliances. It is important to repair electrical shorts immediately, as they pose a fire risk if left unattended. Replacing the blown fuse with a new one is enough to solve the problem. Take the time to locate the electrical short and repair it.

Locate an Electrical Short
  1. Locate all of the switches and plugs that are on the circuit with the blown fuse. The appliances on the circuit will not work, the lights will go dead and the wall switches will not work. Make a list of all of these outlets, switches and appliances, as you will need to test the electrical wiring.

  2. Turn off all switches on the shorted circuit and unplug any appliances on the circuit. Replace the blown fuse or reset the circuit breaker.

  3. Inspect the wiring in the receptacle or breaker switch if the breaker trips immediately. Look for wires with burnt insulation or a wire that is touching the receptacle box.

  4. Turn on each switch connected to the circuit, one at a time. After turning each switch on, check to see if the breaker has been tripped. If a switch trips the breaker, then the short circuit is in the switch or fixture attached to the switch.

  5. Test the appliances that plug into the wall, if turning the switches does not trip the breaker. One by one, plug the appliances into the wall. If the circuit breaker trips when you plug in an appliance, then the electrical short is in appliance cord or plug. Replace the cord.

  6. Turn on the appliances one at a time if the circuit did not trip when you plugged in the appliances. If the circuit breaker trips, then the appliance contains the short and needs to be replaced.

About the Author

Liz Tomas began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in the "American Journal of Enology and Viticulture," "BMC Genomics" and "PLoS Biology." She holds a Master of Science in food science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in oenology at Lincoln University.