Items you will need:
• A partner
• A voltage tester
• Electrical tape
Because an electrical dead short can be dangerous if not taken care of immediately, it’s important to act fast, but responsibly. Although it seems to be a difficult job, you should be able to repair the problem using the following tips.
1. The first thing you must make sure you do is turn the breaker OFF and leave it on off until you need to turn it on again. Failing to do so can be fatal.
2. Dead shorts are often difficult to locate, so you will need the help of another person. You need to determine which area of the house is affected by the power loss due to the breaker being tripped. You can do this by monitoring the lights in the rooms and by using the voltage tester in each of the outlets.
3. When you locate the affected area, check the outlets, switches and light fixtures within the area, looking for any burns or scorch marks. Typically when a dead short occurs, it creates sparks shooting out of the outlet or switch, leaving behind traces of darkened scorch marks.
4. If you’ve checked all outlets, switches and fixtures and still can’t find the source, have one person stand in the area of the power loss while the other goes to the electrical panel. Make sure you can clearly hear each other well.
5. When you’re both ready, reset the breaker, and it will instantly trip. In the area where the electrical dead short is located, the person standing should hear a “pop” sound. Based upon that sound, he should be able to locate the exact area of the electrical dead short by examining the outlets and switches in the area of the “pop.” Leave the breaker OFF.
6. With the exact area determined, you can make any repairs needed. With the switch and/or outlet replaced, reset the breaker again. This time it shouldn’t trip. Go back and double-check the surrounding outlets for power.
7. Because some electrical dead shorts can be very difficult to find, you may want to call a licensed electrician to help if you cannot locate the problem quickly. Avoid resetting the breaker numerous times, because this could blow the electrical dead short open, leaving an open feed in your walls. Electrical dead shorts can be easily repaired if found quickly, but they are also dangerous. If you have an electrical dead short, but do not feel comfortable working with electricity, call an electrician immediately.
• When replacing a switch or outlet, be sure to make secure connections. Use tape to cover terminals.
• If you’ve had a dead short that didn’t trip the breaker on subsequent attempts, don’t assume that it’s fixed. Call an electrician for further investigation.
• Be sure to leave the circuit OFF when working on it. Leave a note on the breaker box to make sure no one else resets the breaker.