Can resistors prevent short circuits? Answered

Well, resistors are meant to control the flow of electrical current within a circuit. The fact that resistors are made of materials such as carbon or copper makes them obtain it functional capabilities of preventing the flow of electrical charges.

However, you are likely to meet carbon resistors more often because they are not only general-purpose resistors but also ideal for circuits with lower power. Other common types of resistors include the wire-wound resistor and film resistors. Overall, a resistor is not only essential for the circuit but also has a myriad of applications.

This includes protecting electrical components that are sensitive to high electrical current such as LED lights. This is in addition to fuses and circuit breakers that also control the flow of electrical current protecting the electrical circuit against voltage spikes.

Can a resistor prevent short circuits?

The resistor does not prevent a short circuit, however, we’ll have to admit that it quickly stops a short circuit from exploding or becoming a source of the fire. Resistors are ideal for stopping excessive current that could potentially heat up a resistive junction and ignite a fire.

To elaborate on this, a short circuit occurs when a low resistance path suddenly receives a high volume of electrical current. In other words, it occurs when a conductive object is touched by a hot wire and it is not supposed to happen. Short circuits can cause serious damage to the electrical system. It may lead to damage to electrical appliances, cause electrical shock and even fire in a worse scenario.

What causes a short circuit?

There are a couple of factors that might cause a short circuit. Unfortunately, resistors do not offer much protection against the majority of these causes. Some of the most common causes of short circuits include:

  • Loose connection or faulty insulation of wires might result in live and neutral wires coming in contact with each other.
  • An abnormal build-up ‘of electrical currents within the electrical wiring system
  • Water and some liquids come into contact with the wiring system
  • Destruction of wires by common pests like mice, rats, and squirrels that are fond of chewing electrical wires
  • Screws and nail punctures that might cause wire casings to deteriorate.
    In other words, relying on resistors to prevent a short circuit in your electrical system rather than taking preventive measures will only increase the risk of it occurring.

Instead, we’ve listed 5 steps below that you can use to prevent a short circuit from occurring:

1. Regular maintenance of power outlets

Behind every power outlet, there are always wires attached. Remember, some of the main causes of the short circuit include loose box connections, faulty wiring, and aging outlets. Even though it might be hard to diagnose the wires behind the power outlets since they are always hidden behind the walls, certain signs might indicate your power outlet is at risk of a short circuit. These include;

  • Popping or a buzzing sound coming from the outlet
  • Burning marks or burn marks
  • Sparks emitted from the power outlet

You should refrain from using any power outlet with the signs mentioned above and contact an electrician as soon as possible.

2. Check your electrical appliances before using them

We have to acknowledge that a short circuit can also be caused by faulty circuitry or wiring from the appliance itself. Therefore, you should check your electrical appliances before plugging them into a power outlet. Check the following;

  • Whether there are damaged cords or wires of casings
  • Whether the appliance has exposed circuitry
  • Whether there are cracks in the electrical appliance

If you notice one of these signs, please consider having a professional repair your appliance or dispose of it off.

3. Avoid electrical usage during a storm

The risk of a short circuit is always high during storms since lightning strikes can cause an electrical surge that might cause serious damage to the electric system. It is, therefore, recommended that you limit your electrical usage to only the necessities during a lightning storm. This is an effective way of reducing the damage that might be caused by a power surge during a storm.

4. Conduct basic circuit breaker maintenance

Since the resistors do not offer much protection against short circuits, perhaps you should focus on the circuit breakers which offer tremendous protection against short circuits. Circuit breakers are electrical components located in the electrical panel and each of them is tied to a different circuit. They can shut off whenever there is an unstable electrical current. A few tips for conducting basic circuit breaker maintenance include;

  • Checking for cracks, damages, and loose-fitting in each circuit breaker
  • Use a cloth to dry and clean the dirty stains or spots located on the panel and breaker. You can also seek professional service in cleaning your circuit breaker

5. Schedule an Electrical Inspection at Least Once a Year

An electrical inspection should be conducted at least once a year just like a doctor’s appointment. This will ensure that your electric system is well examined and make it easier to pinpoint potential areas that might cause a short circuit, as well as establish a cost-effective way of resolving other electrical issues.

Related Readings:

Why do electrical circuits need to be grounded?

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Do Socket Back Boxes Have to Be Earthed?

Can I Put Line & Load Wires In The Same Conduit? (Quick Fact)

How To Measure and Identify Resistor Using Multimeter & Color Codes?

Related questions

Which electrical components are suitable for short circuit protection?

Currently, the fuse and the circuit breakers are the ideal forms of protection against overcurrent. However, the fuse can only be used once before it is replaced, while the circuit breaker can reset itself once a fault is cleared. This is the advantage of circuit breakers over fuses.

What happens if a resistor is removed from a circuit or electrical device?

If the resistor is removed, then the current will increase. In other words, electrons will go around the circuit and arrive back with the same energy as the voltage or potential difference. The final energy will be dissipated as heat.

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