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A short circuit is an accidental path of low resistance which passes an abnormally high amount of current. A short circuit exists whenever the resistance of a circuit or the resistance of a part of a circuit drops in value to almost zero ohms. A short often occurs as a result of improper wiring or broken insulation.

In figure 3-33, a short is caused by improper wiring. Note the effect on current flow. Since the resistor has in effect been replaced with a piece of wire, practically all the current flows through the short and very little current flows through the resistor. Electrons flow through the short (a path of almost zero resistance) and the remainder of the circuit by passing through the 10-ohm resistor and the battery. The amount of current flow increases greatly because its resistive path has decreased from 10,010 ohms to 10 ohms. Due to the excessive current flow. the 10-ohm resistor becomes heated. As it attempts to dissipate this heat, the resistor will probably be destroyed. Figure 3-34 shows a pictorial wiring diagram, rather than a schematic diagram, to indicate how broken insulation might cause a short circuit.

Figure 3-33. - Normal and short circuit conditions.

Figure 3-34. - Short due to broken insulation.

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