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overloaded circuits

Overloaded Circuits: What do I do?

It’s just not worth the risk

Overloading your circuits can damage appliances, cause power outages or even a fire. Overloaded circuits are common problems, but the cause and solution aren’t always clear or easy.

NOTE: Electrical repair work is dangerous. You should always hire a qualified electrician to complete any electrical inspection and repair work. Trained electricians spend years learning and perfecting the trade so that they can achieve their work safely and to the highest standard. Twin Electrics & Plumbing have teams of Melbourne-based, fully qualified electricians to help you with any problems you encounter. 


Overloaded circuit

How To Spot An Overloaded Circuit

Often, the cause of an overloaded circuit is having too much plugged into an outlet. In a properly installed electrical system, if you exceed the limits of your circuit, a breaker will snap open and shut down the entire circuit. In older systems, a fuse may “blow” (burn out). As a result, you may lose power to some or all of your property, as well as incur possible damage to your electrical appliances.

A blowout essentially serves you with a warning that you have had an overload or some other issue. Rest assured, an overload in a properly installed electrical system won’t burn your house down. However, if you have frequent overloading issues, it could be a sign of a more significant problem in your property. A qualified electrician will be able to inspect and ensure all electrical equipment and appliances are safe and functioning correctly.

Warning Signs

The signs you should look out for:

  • Malfunctioning lights: flickering or dimmed bulbs
  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
  • Wallplates being warm to the touch, or discoloured
  • Cracking, sizzling, or buzzing from outlets
  • Burning smell coming from outlets or wall switches
  • Mild shocking or tingle from appliances, outlets, or switches
  • Sparking from outlets or the electrical box

What Causes Circuit Overloads

The most common causes of an overloaded circuit are: 1. when there are too many appliances plugged into one point, or 2. You have devices connected that draw more amps than the circuits capacity.

How To Avoid Circuit Overload

Check the cords

Healthy electrical cords - overloaded circuit

Check the cords of any appliances. There should be an insulator on the outside and copper wire on the inside. Make sure there are no cracks in the insulation and that no wire is exposed. Also, arrange the cords so they will not become damaged while in use. For example, avoiding running them across the floor or ground, through doorways and over sharp edges. You could also use a cable stand to prop cords up over the ground.

Having Appropriate Outlets

Having Appropriate Outlets - overloaded circuit

Ensuring you have appropriate outlets in your property for the usage required will help you avoid overloading your circuits. You may need more outlets in places of high electricity demand. Areas, where you need numerous outlets, might be locations like the kitchen or home office. Ensure heavy load appliances such as refrigerators are using a designated wall outlet. Don’t ‘piggyback’ an outlet by using multiple adaptors/power boards. ‘Piggybacking’ is a surefire method for circuit overloading. Additionally, power-boards only add additional plug-in points; they do not change the amount of power supply at the outlet. Ensure heavy-duty equipment is installed where required, such places exposed to the elements.

Avoid Extension Cords and Power Boards/Adapters

Avoid Extension Cords and Power Boards/Adapters

Avoiding the use of extension cords can prevent overloads. Extension cords should only be used temporarily. If you rely on extension cords to power your appliances, consider having a qualified electrician install extra outlets. Especially avoid using extension cords to power high-demand appliances, such as refrigerators and space heaters.

What To Do After An Overload

Fixing your properties electrical system and wiring should only be done by a trained electrician. However, there are actions you can take in your home to troubleshoot the cause of an overloaded electrical box, as well as preventative measures you can put in place to avoid an overload.

To prevent overloading, even out the load between each circuit in your property. Evening the load ensures that one section isn’t working harder than another. If you are powering a large home or using high-demand appliances such as air-conditioning systems frequently, consider upgrading the electrical panel to suit your property better. A qualified electrician will be able to advise the best size electrical box for you.

If you have a specific circuit that keeps tripping, firstly you should switch off the power for that breaker and unplug all appliances in that area. With everything unplugged, you can switch that circuit breaker back into the ‘on’ position. Check the recommended amp level of the circuit breaker, and ensure you’re not running too many appliances. Alternatively, make sure that all appliances are running correctly, and there are no visible faults or damage that could be causing an overload. Remove any faulty appliances. If needed, contact a trained electrician to conduct a check and repair of any faulty appliances. If you are running a high demand on the wiring in a particular area of your property, plug in some of those extra appliances elsewhere in your home. 

Also if you want to know about Testing & Tagging to ensure safety of electrical appliances, check out this article.

We Can Remedy Overloads!

If you’re having overloading issues in your home, contact Twin Electrics & Plumbing for a thorough and long-term resolution. We will ensure circuits are evenly managed, ensure all appliances are in working order, and help upgrade the electrical system to serve your property better. You’ll have peace of mind knowing our insured and qualified electricians are on the job, making your properties electrical system safe and efficient.

Contact us on (03) 9808 7555 or via our online form to get a qualified electrician to solve all your electrical needs. Twin Electrics & Plumbing handle both domestic and commercial jobs, and with over 40 years experience you can be rest assured our work is of the highest standard every time.

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