Sparking switch or electrical outlet: Is the short in the wiring or something you turned on?

Electric lighting effect, abstract techno backgrounds for your dA fuse has blown or a breaker has popped several times. How do you determine if the short circuit is in your wiring or in something that’s turned on or plugged in on the circuit? According to, here’s how to find out:

  • Turn off all the lights on the circuit.
  • Unplug everything from the outlets.
  • Reset the breaker in the electrical service panel.
  • If the short is in the house wiring (i.e., outlets or switches), the breaker will trip again immediately.
  • If the breaker does not trip, proceed back to the area and turn on each light fixture not plugged into the wall (i.e., fixed lighting).
  • If the breaker still has not tripped, the short circuit lies in something you are plugging into the outlet.
  • Systematically plug each item into the outlet until you find the faulty appliance or lamp and then have it repaired.