Electrical shorts can happen at any time. They occur when a wire is exposed or when it is touching another wire. This happens when wires are incorrectly connected or the insulation wears away, allowing the wires to touch. A hot wire touches a neutral wire, and the next thing you know, you have a short circuit. Smell the smoke or see the spark? Time to call the electrician, as this short circuit will draw more electricity and can cause electrical shorts. Hot wires may even melt insulation and could cause a house fire.
Electrical shorts may occur because wiring is old and worn out, or it may also happen during storms. In our region, the most likely time for a storm is in July or August — the monsoon season — although electrical storms can occur anytime. Because temperatures are still very warm in the fall (October and November), we’re still running air conditioners — and subsequently wearing out parts.
Here are some of the top causes for electrical shorts and other electrical problems in an HVAC unit:
- Dirty air filter. Excess dust can end up in the blower motor, causing it to overheat and causing the fuse to burn out.
- Loose wire. Vibrations from the HVAC system running can cause wires to loosen, potentially resulting in a short.
- Damp conditions. Nearby water leaks — say, from a pipe or the condensate drain — might cause a short.
- Wrong fuse. Using a fuse that can’t handle the capacity of the system could result in a short.
- Faulty capacitor. When the capacitor begins to fail, you may have electrical problems. This part is not expensive and is an easy fix.
- Failing blower motor. Failing blower motors may draw too much power and cause electrical shorts.
- Dirty fuse. A dirty fuse (or other dirty parts) may prevent proper connection and result in electrical shorts.
Have your wiring checked during an HVAC maintenance visit in the spring and the fall. As hot as it is in Yuma, our air conditioners see prolonged use for several months, so they may need more attention.
For more on electrical shorts, contact Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company of Yuma.