01: Avoiding Electrical System Overloads

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Avoiding Electrical System Overloads

A Must-Have Article About Your Home’s Electrical System: Article 1 of 10

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”22″][video_embed url=”https://vimeo.com/335402075″ border=”yes”][vc_empty_space height=”22″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”hb-custom-sidebar-schedule-homeelectricedusale”][vc_separator color=”custom” accent_color=”#ffe300″ css=”.vc_custom_1577421655064{margin-top: 20px !important;margin-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Circuit overloads are not uncommon and they are, to some extent, a seasonal problem. During winter, with the increased use of space heaters, circuit overloads increase where there was no problem before. Around Christmas time, with all of the lighting added to the space heaters, the incidence is further increased.

The good news is that overloads on properly installed electrical circuits cause circuit breakers to trip, shutting off electricity to that circuit and preventing the chance of fires. Home fires are not the result of system overloads. They are the result of faulty wiring that brings improperly insulated wiring into contact with flammable materials and of improper use of electrical appliances.

A good starting point for looking at an overload is to look at extension cords. Extension cords make it possible to plug far more into a circuit than it is designed to handle.

To deal with the overload, start at the main panel. It is usually grey, about a foot wide and about two feet tall, and it is typically in some out-of-the-way place like your garage, basement or utility room, though it is not uncommon to find it in a closet. The first hurdle for electricity entering your home is the main circuit breaker on the main panel. With that one single circuit breaker, you can completely shut off all power to your entire house.

From there, wiring goes to several different circuit breakers that control either dedicated circuits or circuits providing electricity to a specific area of your house.

Dedicated circuits provide electricity to a single appliance or system. For example, your kitchen stove will be on a circuit by itself, as would your electric clothes dryer or furnace. Because dedicated circuits usually power a single item it is unusual to have an overload on one of them. Overloads on a dedicated circuit would result, though, if the wiring to or within that single device has become frayed or a connection has come loose.

The rest of your home receives power from circuits that power a specific zone, like a bedroom or bathroom or all of the ceiling lights in a section of the house.

With luck, each circuit breaker will be labeled with the things or the areas that it powers. If they arenít labeled, you will need to label them. You can do that by turning off a circuit breaker and identifying the things that no longer work. It might be everything in a certain room or all of the ceiling lights in a section of the house or all of the electrical outlets for some area, and it might take a lot of trial and error to identify everything controlled by that breaker.

When you have identified what is controlled by a specific breaker, take note of the amperage of the circuit. This will usually be 10, 15 or 20 amps. The total amperage of the devices on that circuit cannot exceed that number if you plug in more, the result is an overloaded circuit and no power. Every lamp or electrical device will have a label on it that says something like 120VAC 60HZ .065A 55W. The .065A is the important part for you. That is the amperage of that device. If you are having a problem with overloads, you are plugging something into the circuit that drives the total amperage on the circuit over the capacity of the circuit breaker or has faulty wiring. Begin removing devices until you have reduced the total load (amperage) on the circuit to the capacity of that circuit.[/vc_column_text][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”hb-custom-sidebar-schedule-homeelectricedusale”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

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