How To Fix an Overloaded Circuit

Does your circuit breaker trip every time you turn on too many electronics? Are you worried that running multiple appliances at once could be dangerous or cause a power surge in your home? Overloaded circuits can be extremely hazardous; however, with the right knowledge and safety precautions, it’s easy to safely fix them.

How To Fix an Overloaded Circuit

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how an overloaded circuit can occur and provide comprehensive recommendations for fixing and preventing it from happening again in the future. Read on to learn more about how to fix an overloaded circuit.

What an Overloaded Circuit Is and How It Occurs

An overloaded circuit occurs when the electrical load on a circuit exceeds its maximum capacity to safely handle the current flowing through it. Every circuit is designed to carry a specific amount of electrical current, which is measured in amperes (amps). When the demand for electricity surpasses the circuit’s capacity, it results in an overload.

Here’s how an overloaded circuit typically occurs:

  1. High Power Demand: Plugging in or operating appliances and devices that require a significant amount of power can overload a circuit. Examples include electric heaters, air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, and power-hungry tools.
  2. Insufficient Circuit Capacity: Each circuit in your home is protected by a circuit breaker or a fuse. These safety devices are designed to interrupt the electrical flow when the current exceeds a predetermined limit. If the circuit’s capacity (amp rating) is not sufficient to handle the power demand of the connected devices, it can lead to overloading.
  3. Extension Cords and Power Strips: Overloading can also occur when multiple devices are connected to a single extension cord or power strip. These devices often share the same circuit, and if the total power demand exceeds the circuit’s capacity, it can lead to an overload.
  4. Wiring Issues: Faulty or inadequate wiring can contribute to an overloaded circuit. For instance, using undersized wires or having loose connections can generate heat and increase resistance, which may cause the circuit to overload.
How To Fix an Overloaded Circuit

Signs of an overloaded circuit include:

  1. Frequent Circuit Breaker Tripping: If a circuit breaker trips frequently, especially when multiple devices are in use, it is a strong indication of an overload.
  2. Flickering Lights: When you notice lights flickering or dimming while using certain appliances, it suggests that the circuit is struggling to handle the power demand.
  3. Hot Outlets or Burning Odor: Overloaded circuits can cause outlets, switches, or wires to become hot to the touch. You might also detect a burning odor, which indicates a potentially hazardous situation.
  4. Non-Functioning Appliances: If an appliance stops working or exhibits erratic behavior, it could be due to an overloaded circuit that has disrupted its power supply.

It’s crucial to address an overloaded circuit promptly to prevent potential hazards like electrical fires or damage to appliances and devices. By understanding the causes and signs of an overloaded circuit, you can take the necessary steps to fix the issue and ensure the safety and efficiency of your electrical system.

8 Step by Step Guides on How to Fix an Overloaded Circuit

Step 1:  Unplug All Appliances and Devices

The first step to fixing an overloaded circuit is to unplug all the appliances and devices connected to it. This will reduce the load on the circuit and help you identify which device is causing the overload.

Step 2: Reset Your Circuit Breaker

Once you have disconnected all of your electronics, reset the circuit breaker to restore power. It is also important to check the circuit breaker’s amp rating and make sure it matches the electrical load of the appliances and devices connected to it.

How To Fix an Overloaded Circuit

Step 3: Identify High-Power Devices

High-power devices like electric heaters, air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, or power-hungry tools can quickly overload a circuit. Once you have determined which devices are connected to the overloaded circuit, make sure their combined electrical load does not exceed the capacity of the circuit breaker

Step 4: Avoid Using Extension and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips are often used when multiple devices need to be connected to a single circuit. However, they can become overloaded easily if too many devices are plugged in. Therefore, it is best to connect each device directly to the circuit breaker and avoid using extension cords or power strips.

Step 5: Make Sure All Wiring Is Sufficient

Inadequate wiring is another common cause of overloaded circuits. Make sure all wiring is in good condition, and that wires of the right gauge and size are used to handle the load of your devices.

Step 6: Upgrade Your Circuit Breaker

If you find that your circuit breaker’s amp rating is not sufficient to handle the current power demand, consider upgrading it. This will ensure your circuit can handle the load of all appliances and devices connected to it.

Step 7: Only Use One High-Power Device at a Time

If you have multiple high-power devices, avoid using them simultaneously. Instead, use one device at a time and then wait for it to cool down before turning on another. This will help prevent the circuit from becoming overloaded.

Step 8: Have a Professional Electrician Check Your Circuit

If you are still having issues with your electrical system, it may be best to have a professional electrician inspect your wiring and make any necessary repairs or upgrades to ensure the safety of your home. An experienced electrician will also be able to identify any underlying issues that might be causing the overload and provide long-term solutions.

By following these steps, you can fix an overloaded circuit safely and efficiently. If you need assistance or advice about your home’s electrical system, contact a qualified electrician for help. They will be able to inspect your wiring and make sure everything is up to code. That way, you can rest assured that your home is safe and efficient.

How to Assess the Electrical Load in Their Home

Assessing the electrical load in your home is an important step in identifying potential overloads and ensuring the safe operation of your electrical system. Here are some steps to help you assess the electrical load:

  1. Create an Inventory: Start by creating an inventory of all the electrical appliances, devices, and fixtures in your home. Include everything from major appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners to smaller devices like televisions and computers. Don’t forget to include lighting fixtures as well.
  2. Determine Power Ratings: Look for the power rating or wattage information on each device. This information is typically indicated on a label, nameplate, or in the device’s user manual. The power rating is measured in watts (W) and represents the amount of power the device consumes when in use.
  3. Calculate Power Consumption: For each device, multiply its power rating (in watts) by the number of hours it is typically used per day. This will give you energy consumption in watt-hours (Wh). For example, if you have a 100-watt light bulb that is used for 4 hours per day, the energy consumption would be 100 watts x 4 hours = 400 watt-hours.
  4. Sum up the Load: Add up the energy consumption values for all the devices in your inventory. This will give you the total load in watt-hours for your home. It’s helpful to categorize the loads based on the circuits they are connected to (e.g., kitchen, living room, bedroom) to assess the load on individual circuits.
  5. Convert to Amperes: To understand the load in terms of amperes (amps), divide the total load in watt-hours by the voltage of your electrical system. In most residential settings, the voltage is 120 volts in North America or 230 volts in Europe and other regions. For example, if your total load is 3000 watt-hours (or 3 kilowatt-hours) and the voltage is 120 volts, the load in amperes would be 3000 watt-hours / (120 volts) = 25 amps.
  6. Compare with Circuit Capacity: Check the amp rating of the circuit breakers in your electrical panel. Each circuit should have a specific amp rating, such as 15 amps or 20 amps. Ensure that the total load on each circuit does not exceed its amp rating. If the load is too close to the circuit’s capacity, you may need to redistribute devices or consider adding a new circuit.

Remember, it’s important to consult a qualified electrician if you are unsure about any electrical calculations or if you suspect potential overloads. They can help assess your electrical system, identify any issues, and provide recommendations to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your home’s electrical infrastructure.

Essential Safety Tips

Safety should always be the top priority when working with electrical components and addressing overloaded circuits. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Turn off the Power: Before working on any electrical components, ensure that you turn off the main power supply to your home. This step is crucial to prevent electric shocks or accidents. Locate your electrical panel and flip the main circuit breaker to the “off” position.
  2. Use Proper Safety Gear: When working on electrical systems, it’s important to wear appropriate safety gear. This may include safety glasses, insulated gloves, and non-conductive footwear. These precautions help protect you from potential hazards and electrical shocks.
  3. Avoid Water and Moisture: Keep water and moisture away from electrical components. Ensure your hands are dry before handling any electrical devices, and never work on electrical systems in damp or wet conditions. Water is a conductor of electricity and increases the risk of electric shock.
  4. Beware of Live Wires: Treat all wires as if they are live and energized. Never touch exposed wires or terminals unless you are absolutely certain the power is off. Use a non-contact voltage tester to verify that the circuit is de-energized before touching any wires or conducting repairs.
  5. Respect Circuit Breakers and Fuses: Circuit breakers and fuses are safety devices designed to protect your electrical system from overloads and short circuits. Never override or bypass a circuit breaker or fuse with a higher rating. If a breaker keeps tripping, it indicates an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
  6. Avoid Overloading Outlets: Overloading outlets with multiple power strips, extension cords, or adapters can pose a fire hazard. Spread out your electrical devices across different outlets and circuits to distribute the load evenly. Use power strips with built-in surge protection to ensure safety.
  7. Consult a Professional: If you are unsure about any electrical work or if the issue seems complex, it’s best to consult a qualified electrician. They have the expertise to handle electrical repairs and upgrades safely. Avoid attempting electrical work beyond your skill level to prevent accidents or damage to your electrical system.
How To Fix an Overloaded Circuit

Remember, electrical work can be dangerous, and it’s important to prioritize safety at all times. By following these safety tips and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can ensure the well-being of yourself, your family, and your home while addressing overloaded circuits.

Maintenance Tips

Regular electrical maintenance is crucial for preventing future overloads and ensuring the safety and efficiency of your electrical system. Here are some key points about regular maintenance :

  1. Periodic Inspections: Encourage readers to schedule periodic inspections by a qualified electrician. An electrician can thoroughly assess the condition of your electrical system, identify any potential issues, and provide recommendations for repairs or upgrades. It’s advisable to have an inspection performed every few years or if you experience any electrical problems.
  2. Wiring Upgrades: Over time, wiring can deteriorate or become outdated, increasing the risk of overloads and electrical hazards. Advise readers to consider upgrading old or faulty wiring. This may involve replacing knob-and-tube wiring, aluminum wiring, or outdated electrical panels. Stress the importance of hiring a professional electrician for these tasks, as they require specialized knowledge and skills.
  3. Grounding: Proper grounding is essential for the safety of your electrical system. Explain the significance of grounding and how it helps prevent electrical shocks and overloads. Encourage readers to check their outlets to ensure they are properly grounded and to call an electrician if they suspect grounding issues.
  4. Outlet and Switch Maintenance: Readers can perform simple maintenance tasks on outlets and switches to ensure their proper functioning. Advise them to periodically check for loose or damaged outlets, tighten loose screws, and replace broken or cracked faceplates. Emphasize that these tasks should only be performed when the power is turned off, and caution against working on live circuits.
  5. GFCI and AFCI Protection: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are important safety devices that protect against electrical shocks and fires, respectively. Educate readers about the importance of GFCIs in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, and the requirement for AFCIs in bedrooms and other areas prone to electrical fires. Encourage the installation of GFCIs and AFCIs where necessary and inform readers that a licensed electrician should handle these installations.
  6. Smoke Detectors: Mention the importance of having functional smoke detectors installed throughout the home. Encourage readers to test their smoke detectors regularly and replace the batteries at least once a year. Recommend replacing smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old.
  7. Signs to Call a Professional: Provide readers with a list of warning signs that indicate the need to call a professional electrician. This may include flickering lights, persistent breaker trips, burning smells, hot outlets, or any other electrical abnormalities that they are unable to diagnose or address themselves.

By emphasizing the significance of regular electrical maintenance and being mindful of potential warning signs, one can protect their homes from overloaded circuits, electrical shocks, and fires.


Overloaded circuits can be a serious safety hazard, so it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. The most effective way of fixing an overloaded circuit is to identify which device or appliance on the circuit has caused the overload and then either reduce its load or increase the capacity of that particular circuit by installing additional wiring or outlets.

Once this is done, you should also check other circuits in your home for any potential problems. By taking these steps, you will help ensure that your electrical system remains safe and efficient. Thanks for reading this article about how to fix an overloaded circuit.

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