3 Signs of an Overloaded Electrical Circuit

3 Signs of an Overloaded Electrical Circuit

Electrical circuits are designed to handle a set amount of current at a time. If there’s too much demand on a circuit, either a fuse will blow or the circuit breaker will trip. This prevents your circuit from overloading, which can cause a fire. However, a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker isn’t the only sign of an overload. Here’s a more detailed discussion about circuit breakers, as well as some other signs of an overloaded electrical circuit.

Circuit Breakers

A tripped circuit breaker alludes to an overloaded electrical circuit. A circuit is designed to allow only a certain number of amps (the measure of an electrical current) to pass through it. If the current exceeds this limit, your circuit breaker will trip.

The high demand on your electrical circuit could be due an assortment of reasons, such as too many appliances in use. A faulty device can also demand a lot from your electrical circuit. Excess demand overloads your electrical circuit, which trips your circuit breaker. Consequently, if your circuit breaker keeps tripping, it means something is overloading your electrical circuit.


Current isn’t equally distributed throughout your electrical circuit. Firstly, appliances demanding more power will receive more power. However, a second, lesser-known factor in current distribution is which outlets are prioritized. Lighting circuits are typically rated lower than circuits connected to sockets. In other words, lighting will be the first to show signs of power disruptions.

Consequently, if you see your lights flickering, it could mean that you have an overloaded circuit. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean this. The problem could be elsewhere, such as with the light bulbs themselves.

A firefighter wearing protective gear

Burning Odor

Electrical fires have a distinct smell composed of burning plastic. The smell indicates that a wire is burning, likely because of a short circuit. A short circuit occurs, essentially, when the electricity passing through a circuit is faster than it’s meant to be. For instance, if a hot wire touches a neutral wire, you’ll have a short circuit.

Neutral and hot wires have different amounts of stored energy (i.e., a potential difference), and they aren’t meant to touch. If they do, the current will quickly exceed the circuit’s capacity. Circuit breakers and fuses can limit the damage of a short circuit, but if they malfunction, a short circuit can quickly start a dangerous fire. You should shut down your main electrical panel until experts arrive.

If you suspect you have an overloaded electrical circuit, contact us at RHK Electrical. Our team of home electricians is the best in Cypress, TX, and they provide residential electrical services and more. Overloaded electrical circuits usually suggest a problem elsewhere with your home’s electrical setup. Get in touch, and we’ll narrow down and resolve the issue.

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