Real Estate & Household

Electrical Overload: How to Spot and Prevent

Have you ever started vacuuming or turned on the hair dryer, and it abruptly shut off? 

This is known as a circuit overload, and it has caused your circuit breaker to trip to avert a potentially dangerous situation or fire. Although the existence of circuit breakers to safeguard us from electrical overloads is consoling, we advise you to take precautions to make sure that, in the first place, your circuits are not overloaded.

Certainly, this post will describe the causes of electrical overloads, warning indications, problem-solving techniques, ways to avoid overloads, and when it’s best to call a professional for assistance.

What is an Electric Circuit Overload?

When the current flowing through a wire is greater than the capacitance of the wire, we say that the circuit is overloaded. For example, how many outlets are on a 15 amp circuit is an important factor to consider because connecting more devices that exceed the circuit’s capacity will result in an electric risk. 

Wires enable electricity to travel across each electrical circuit in your house. All the wires in your electrical circuit add up together so that all the current in your home can flow through them. To prevent overloading, every electrical circuit on your property must be protected by the necessary equipment, such as a fuse or a circuit breaker.

An electrical device failure resulting in indefinite current leakage to the ground will cause your circuit breaker or fuse to trip. This indicates that your electrical system’s built-in protector, the circuit breaker, has tripped, thereby switching off the circuit and the electricity. Overloaded wiring will heat up and may melt without a circuit breaker, which could start a fire.

How A Circuit Overload be Costly for Your House

With various safety issues with a circuit overload, cost is another issue that comes with it. A circuit overload can be quite costly for your house in various ways.

  1. Damage of Equipment

Damage to different devices and appliances from an overloaded circuit poses a major financial loss. With an electrical overload, the flow of electricity becomes unstable and inconsistent. Therefore, this leads to voltage fluctuations, causing damage to sensitive home appliances such as computers, TVs, etc. You can easily fathom how much the cost can add up if you replace all these devices.

  1. Reduced Lifetime of Appliances

If your device is not completely damaged during a circuit overload, lifespan will be lessened. Too much electrical stress can cause devices to lose functionality and make them wear off much quicker. Replacing them would be quite costly and also contribute to electronic waste.

  1. Increase in Bills

You will quickly notice the increase in electricity bills if you have consistent circuit overloads or electrical stress. Overloaded circuits become inefficient in supplying sufficient power to appliances and hence can result in higher electricity consumption. This can be costly for your house.

  1. Fire Hazards

Circuit overloads can be extremely dangerous as they can cause fire. If a fire starts and spreads, the damage to your house would be huge. Not only will this lead to property loss, but it can also harm the occupants.

What to Look Out for

How do you understand that your circuit is overloaded? Here are some signs you can look out for to identify an overloaded circuit.

  1. Dim or Flickering Lights

A circuit overload is the cause of the light flickering or dimming while the device is in use. Device operation is impacted by voltage drops and fluctuations that result from exceeding circuit capacity.

  1. Hot Outlets 

Warm or hot outlets could indicate extremely hot wiring, which could start a fire. Call your local electrician immediately for expert assistance if an outlet seems unusually hot.

  1. Tripping Your Circuit Breaker Too Frequently

Tripping circuit breakers regularly indicates that the circuit is overloaded. Circuit breakers trip in response to high current levels, preventing fire hazards or damage. In an event like this, it is necessary to investigate and find a solution as fast as possible.

  1. Buzzing Noise

An overloaded circuit may produce a vibrating or buzzing sound, suggesting too much current flowing. Such sounds demand immediate intervention and professional evaluation.

  1. Burning Smell

If you can smell burnt plastic or wires, this suggests a serious circuit overload overheating. Disconnecting the power source and obtaining expert assistance are imperative to prevent additional harm or hazard.

  1. Outlet Discoloration 

An overloaded outlet or switch may become discolored; the extreme heat usually causes it to turn brown or black. Discoloration indicates an overloaded circuit, which must be fixed immediately to reduce further damage.

  1. Reduced Equipment Performance 

Circuit overload can result in low power, which can cause equipment failure or decreased performance in appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators. A speedy resolution is required to ensure safety and stop further problems.

What to do with an Overloaded Circuit

SAFETY WARNING! Remember, electricity is dangerous! Never touch wires on an electrical panel or any electrical circuit unless the system is turned off and you have determined that the power is off with a voltmeter.

  1. Start by checking your electrical panel to see which switches are off.
  2. Unplug anything plugged into this circuit. 
  3. Turn off the light.
  4. Turn on the circuit breaker back.
  5. Start plugging the devices back in.

Is the machine defective?

Through this process, you can identify the device tripping the breaker. Next, by plugging the device into another circuit, you need to determine whether the device or the circuit has a problem. If it also breaks this circuit, you will need a professional electrician to repair the faulty device, or you will need to replace it.

Or is the circuit overloaded?

If you try the device on another circuit and nothing happens,  the original circuit is most likely overloaded. At this point, you need to determine what devices are on that circuit and how much power they consume at any given time. If greater than the threshold value, you will need to move some devices to other circuits.

Steps to Avoid Overloading Electrical Circuits 

Electrical circuit overload prevention is essential to the efficiency and safety of electrical systems. The following actions can help you prevent overloading circuits: 

  1. Unplug Appliances When You are Not Using Them

To prevent overloading circuits, unplugging or turning off electrical appliances when not in use is a straightforward but effective solution. This decreases the circuit’s overall demand, allowing it to function within its power range.

  1. Turn Off the Device

Power-hungry devices can stress the circuit. It is always a good idea to turn off devices when you don’t need them to reduce the pressure on the circuit, thus improving safety.

  1. Consider Installing a New Circuit

Installing additional dedicated circuits is a good idea if your circuits regularly overload. An electrician can evaluate your electrical requirements to effectively distribute the load and safely install extra circuits.

  1. Understand the Load Capacity of the Circuit

To avoid overloads, it is important to understand some common things about your home electricity, such as the load capacity of your circuit. The circuit can handle this amount of electricity as its maximum load without getting too hot or tripping the circuit breaker. If this capacity is exceeded, there are significant risks. 

  1. Load Sharing 

By doing this, the electrical load is divided equally among the circuits in your house. Refrain from connecting numerous high-power devices to a single circuit. Making sure no circuit is overloaded is the goal of load balancing.


Circuit overload can be faced by anyone, no matter how careful you are. Keep your eyes on the most common signs of a circuit overload and follow the precautions to ensure maximum safety. However, if it happens, observe and see if you can turn off the appliances. Remember, electricity can be very dangerous. So do not hesitate to contact the professionals anytime you need. 

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