Last Updated on April 11, 2023
A ground fault refers to a defect in which an electric current bypasses circuit wiring and flows directly to the ground. This current can then energize items that people can touch, creating a potential safety hazard that can result
in various dangers, including:
- Shocks: This is one of the most common risks of ground faults, especially if you have areas of standing water. Bathrooms or damp areas outside can be targets for ground fault shocks.
- Burns: Massive amounts of heat can be generated from unbridled electric currents. Someone can get severely burned by touching an appliance that gets this hot.
- Fire: Uncontrolled surges of electricity create heat, which can create a fire.
A ground fault is a danger that many people may not be aware of — it’s essential to understand what causes ground faults, how you can prevent them and the various tools at your disposal that will help you stay safe from an ungrounded circuit.
WHAT CAUSES A GROUND FAULT?
There are a few different things that can cause a ground fault, including water leakage, worn wires, faulty wiring and damaged appliances:
- Water leakage: Water is a conductor of electricity — if it somehow gets into an electrical box, it can create an unplanned current that creates a ground fault. Wet, damp areas like bathrooms and kitchens are common areas for ground faults
- Worn wires: Over time, insulation can wear off on wiring. Bugs or rodents could also sneak in and chew wiring. It’s wise to have wires checked every once in a while to make sure they’re in good shape.
- Faulty wiring: Loose connections and miswiring could cause a connection to misfire and travel to the ground.
- Damaged appliances: If you’re using appliances with poor insulation or are damaged, they could be liable to a ground fault.
There are various ways a ground fault can happen. Although this may seem like a bad sign, there are also many easy ways you can protect yourself and others from ground faults. Circuit breakers are the most common and effective way to ensure you stay safe from the dangers of ground faults.
HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST GROUND FAULTS
Ground faults can be a scary problem because they can result in various dangers and problems. You could be worried about your safety and the safety of those living in your building. With a bit of help from modern technology — and by staying on top of your building’s electricity — you can be confident in the safety of your home or business. Some ways to defend against ground faults include regular inspections and circuit breakers:
- Regular inspections: Ground faults can often result from faulty or old wiring. While those issues may be hard to spot, you can help identify them by getting regular inspections. Inspections will reveal problems before they start impacting your building, and you can gain a lot of valuable knowledge about your building’s electrical system.
- Avoid wet, damp areas: One of the reasons ground faults happen is because of water, whether caused by flooding or something else. This is why bathrooms and wet outdoor areas are breeding grounds for faults — water can get into the electrical box and cause issues. Be sure you’re keeping an eye on where you’re standing when dealing with electronics and ensuring there isn’t any water near the outlets.
- Circuit breakers: While inspections can help, there is an easy way to defend against the dangers of ground faults — circuit breakers. Circuit breakers help cut off ground faults at the course, helping decrease the threat of fires, shocks and burns.
THE ROLE OF CIRCUIT BREAKERS
A circuit breaker — as its name implies — is an electric switch that “breaks” an electrical current to prevent damage to appliances and stop the risk of fire. Without circuit breakers, we would have a lot of trouble controlling electricity, and even simple wiring would result in various issues.
Instead, circuit breakers help alleviate those many problems and allow us to use electricity in a safe, practical way. By cutting off a ground fault current, they remove the possibility of many dangers and give us a lot of advantages, including:
- Detection: One of the best functions of a circuit breaker is its ability to detect current overloads and ground faults automatically. Instead of letting that current go somewhere else, it stops it. Ground fault detection is a great tool to have.
- Fire protection: One of the main dangers in a building is the threat of fire. Electricity can be a culprit. Circuit breakers help defend against the threat of fire — when the metal strip on circuit breakers overheats, the current gets cut off.
- Confidence in safety: Overall, circuit breakers can give people a lot of confidence in the safety of their residences. While this may seem like a small benefit, it can have a significant effect on someone’s headspace and help relieve a lot of the stress that comes with managing a building.
HOW A CIRCUIT BREAKER WORKS
When everything works properly, the circuit breaker switches to the “on” position, and electricity can freely flow through the mechanism. It weaves through the electric panel, the trip unit and the contacts, then out through the terminal. In the event of an overload, the circuit breaker has metallic strips that heat up and bend, which automatically cuts off power.
In the case of a fault, electromagnetic forces cause the contacts inside the circuit breaker to separate, which also results in tripping the breaker and shutting off power to the circuit.
GROUND FAULT PROTECTION
Regular inspections and investing in circuit breakers are all ways you can gain ground fault protection. However, you can also look into getting quality appliances that you can trust. Finding a company that can offer you quality products is one of the best ways to ensure that your appliances are safe to use.
You’ll have better confidence in the operations of your building’s electricity and the safety of those using it. The challenging part might be finding the right company for you. A reliable company like Trystar is ready to help.
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