How to Detect a Short Circuit in Electrical Wiring of a House

Short circuits happens when a hot wire touches a neutral or ground wire; the extra current flowing through the circuit causes the breaker to trip or a fuse to blow.

Usually, this short circuit is in an appliance that is plugged into an electric outlet.

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Sometimes the short circuit is in the house wiring itself, which creates a fire hazard in the walls of the structure.

Here’s how to check where the problem lies:

Determine Which Circuit Breaker Is Tripping

a) Go to the electrical box and look for tripped breaker switches.
b) Turn the circuit breaker all the way to the off position, unplug and/or turn off everything connected to that circuit.
c) Reset the breaker. If the circuit breaker resets now, you know that the short is in something connected to the circuit and not in the system wiring itself
d) When troubleshooting any electrical problem, always work from the easiest to the most difficult.

Determine Which House Circuit Has The Short Circuit Problem

a) Read the identification sheet on the inside of the cover.
b) The sheet will indicate which house circuit is protected by each circuit breaker.
c) Find the house circuit that is protected by the circuit breaker that is tripping.

Unplug The Appliances And Turn Off All Electrical Devices

a) Turn off all light fixtures on the circuit.
b) Unplug everything from the outlets.

Determine If The Short Circuit Problem Has Been Cleared

a) Go to the electrical service panel and reset the breaker.
b) If it trips again immediately, the short lies in the house wiring (outlets or switches).
c) If the breaker still has not tripped, the short circuit lies in something you are plugging into the outlet.

Find The Short Circuited Appliance

a) Systematically plug each item into the outlet until you find the faulty appliance or lamp and then have it repaired.
b) If the problem persists when the appliance is plugged into the original socket, try plugging the suspected shorted appliance into a different socket.
c) If the short circuit problem is determined to be with first socket, turn off power to the circuit and fix the socket.

Determine The Cause Of Electrical Wire Short Circuit

a) If the short circuit was caused by someone driving a nail through a cable, by someone drilling into a cable or by someone cutting into a cable, you can repair it by opening up the wall and installing a junction box at that point, but if you do that, the box must remain accessible.
b) The other route that you can take is to route a new run of cable to replace the damaged section. If you’re working on the first floor over an unfinished basement or crawlspace, this option is probably your best and easiest route to take.
c) For short caused by a rodent chewing through a cable, or termites disconnect all the devices on that circuit. Set your digital multimeter to the ohms range and then check between all the wires in each cable segment until you find a segment that reads “0” ohms between the black wire and either the white wire or the bare wire. That the segment that has the short. You need to install a junction box or run a new cable.

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