How Overloads Occur

Extension Cords Picture Overuse of extension cords and multiple plug adapters on the same circuit are typical causes of an electrical overload -- by placing too much current demand on the circuit. Running too many blow dryers and curling irons at once is a typical problem when homes have a single circuit serving two bathrooms. In each of these cases, fuses should blow or a circuit breaker should open, which shuts the power off. Circuit overloading is common around the holidays, when more electricity is used around the home for electric decorations.

Signs of overloaded circuits include:

  • Flickering lights
  • Sparks from appliances or wall outlets
  • Warm switch plates or outlets
  • Dimming lights or television sets

A warm extension cord or plug always indicates a potential overload.

Replacing fuses GraphicDon't make the mistake of trying to eliminate a "fuse problem" by replacing a 20 amp fuse with a spare 30 amp fuse. This may seem to fix the problem because the flow won't blow as frequently. But it creates a terribly dangerous situation! Believe it or not, there are people who have put a penny in the place of a fuse, thinking it would help. But the penny is an excellent conductor and will quickly overload the circuit.