You’re heading down to the kitchen to make yourself a sandwich. You select ingredients from your fridge, take bread from the pantry and plug your toaster in. You insert the slices of bread and turn your toaster on.
Just like that, the power’s dead. The lights die, the TV quits and the refrigerator stops humming.
Don’t worry, it’s not your house trying to tell you cut back on the carbs – chances are, it’s an electrical overload!
What are electrical overloads?
Electrical circuits are designed to handle a finite amount of electricity. When your electricity load exceeds the capacity of your electrical circuitry, you have an electrical overload on your hands.
Most rooms in your home will have their own circuits with enough capacity for appliances like TVs, lights and chargers.
Some particularly energy-intensive appliances like washing machines, fridges or EV chargers might even require their own dedicated circuits.
In many cases, your circuits are physically limited by how much electricity they can safely carry without lighting on fire or melting.
Luckily, a properly installed electrical system will protect you from house fires.
When the “traffic” gets too high, the fuse or circuit breaker should automatically trigger, shutting off the electrical current.
That means if your circuits are already running at or near capacity, even something small like turning on your bedside lamp can be enough to push your circuits over the edge.
How to avoid overloaded circuits
While your safety switch will keep you safe by cutting the flow of electricity, it’s still a good idea to take other precautions regardless. When it comes to electricity, there’s no such thing as “too safe”.
Not to mention, when your switchboard does catch it, you’ll be left without power, albeit temporarily.
Sure, it’s only a minor annoyance but it’s the last thing you’d want happening when you’re halfway through the latest episode of your favourite TV series or cooking dinner!
How to avoid overloading your circuits
1) Watch the number of appliances you have connected
The simplest and most straightforward way to avoid an overload and subsequent outage is to carefully watch the number of appliances you have plugged in.
In an older house with older wiring especially, this may mean not using the hair dryer, electric razor and heater at the same time when you’re in the bathroom!
It’s also a good idea to avoid overloading individual power sockets. If you have a socket that powers multiple chargers, unplug a couple of them and move them somewhere else in your home.
Sure, these are only short-term fixes. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a shot!
2) Remove any energy-hogging appliances
If you’ve plugged a high-powered device into an outlet or circuit that just isn’t meant for it, we recommend unplugging it.
If you know the circuit layout of your home, consider moving it to a circuit which can handle it.
This advice isn’t limited to big-ticket appliances either.
Even something as small as an electrical kettle can be enough to overload your circuit your run-of-the-mill kitchen outlet – you’d be surprised how energy hungry those things can be.
3) Get your fuse box or switchboard inspected
In most homes, the fuse box or switchboard is the first line of defense between your home and an electrical fire caused by overloading.
As such, you’ll want to make sure your fuses and switches are up to the task – call a professional electrician to get switchboard inspected.
And if your home is still using old-fashioned fuses, consider getting them replaced with circuit breakers. While both get the job done, due to the way fuses operate, every time one goes off, you’ll need to replace it manually.
4) Think about home rewiring
Architects of the past couldn’t possibly have foreseen the amount of power we use.
Back in the 1970s for example, a domestic electrician might only need to provide enough capacity for lights, a TV, the fridge and the odd appliance or two.
Nowadays though, we also have to contend with air conditioning, computers, Wi-Fi, chargers… the list goes on and on!
Our modern lifestyles use up a lot more power than our parents’, and the simple truth is many homes weren’t wired to handle that. Hence why older homes seem to suffer from a much higher rate of overloads.
If this sounds like you, it might be time to upgrade your old circuits. Learn how home rewiring can bring your property into the 21st century.
Need home rewiring? Talk to a Melbourne electrician!
Offering domestic (and commercial) electrician services all over Melbourne, Briggs Electrical specialises in ensuring your home circuitry is up to the task.
In addition to home rewiring, our services include:
- Data cabling installation
- Antenna and satellite dish installation
- Home cinema installation
- CCTV and security alarm systems
- All run-of-the-mill electrical jobs and fixes
Whether you’re experiencing frequent overloads or need any other sort of electrical work, get an experienced team of electrical experts on your side.