Understanding and preventing electrical short circuits in Belgian homes

Every homeowner has, at some point, encountered the dreaded short circuit. But what exactly is it, and how can we prevent it from recurring? In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of short circuits, their causes, and effective preventive measures.


What is a short circuit?

A standard wall socket operates with at least two electrical wires. One wire directs electricity from the device to the socket, while the other returns it. Both these wires, whether in your home or the device, are insulated and should never come into contact. If the insulation is damaged, which can occur in older devices, the wires might touch. This contact can lead to overheating, resulting in a short circuit.

When a short circuit occurs, a fuse will likely blow, causing a power outage in parts of your home. This is a built-in safety mechanism to prevent potential fires. It’s essential to identify and address the root cause of a short circuit; otherwise, it can recur.

The dangers of short circuits

Short circuits are not to be taken lightly. They can lead to severe consequences, including fires. If you suspect a specific device is causing the short circuit, it’s crucial to stop using it immediately.

Common causes of short circuits

While a damaged device is a common culprit behind short circuits, there are other potential causes. These include electrical cables melting together due to excessive heat or water coming into contact with electrical components.

Dealing with a short circuit

If you face a short circuit:

1. Identify the blown fuse: Using your home’s electrical blueprint, determine which sockets and switches (by law, no more than 8 sockets and switches per circuit) are affected by the blown circuit.
2. Inspect the area: If you suspect a device connected to one of these sockets, unplug it. Once you’ve isolated the potential cause, reset the fuse. If the fuse remains intact, you’ve likely identified the issue. If not, continue your inspection.
3. Check the power supply: If none of the sockets are powered, the issue might stem from the main electrical panel.
4. Overloaded network: Fuses can also blow due to an overloaded network, often caused by using multi-plug extensions with power-hungry devices. In such cases, distribute the devices across different sockets connected to separate circuits.


Short circuits, while common, can be dangerous if not addressed promptly. By understanding their causes and implementing preventive measures, homeowners can ensure a safer living environment. Regular inspections, proper device maintenance, and adhering to safety guidelines can go a long way in preventing electrical mishaps. Always remember, when in doubt, consult a professional electrician to ensure the safety and integrity of your home’s electrical system.