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What Happens When a Good Resistor Goes Bad?

It's hard to imagine any type of machinery or equipment powered with electricity that does not include resistors. The function of this important components is to slow and control the flow of current so the other parts are not overwhelmed by the electricity. When any type of resistor begins to fail, the outcome is less than desirable. Here are a few facts about resistors that those who work around machinery should know.

Many Different Types of Resistors

There are a number of different resistors currently in use. Most are designed to adequately handle electrical current that ranges from minor flow to the larger amounts needed to power things like textile machinery, mainframe computer systems, and the safety equipment used at dams and other major structures. The type and complexity of the resistors will vary, based on the application. Depending on the intended use of the machinery or equipment, surface mount resistors may work fine. Others applications may call for the use of as current sense resistor or a high voltage resistor.

One of the key safety measures that must be employed is the use of the right type of resistor. Typically, machinery manufacturers include specifications for all the components used in the creation of their machines. That includes specifying what type and design of resistor is needed.

Failure Potential 1: No Resistance to the Current Flow

When any type of resistor fails, one of the more likely scenarios is that there is no longer any way to check and control the flow of electrical current. When this happens circuitry and other components of the machine can be overwhelmed by the unchecked flow of current. The result is causing a chain reaction of failures that renders the machine useless. Along with replacing the high power resistor, there is now the need of replacing all the parts damaged by that unchecked flow of current.

Failure Potential 2: The Resistor Goes Open

Another possible outcome is that the resistor goes open. This means that when the resistor fails, the flow of current is stopped completely. The equipment will not work because there is no flow of current to provide a power source. In this scenario, nothing can be done until the malfunctioning resistor is removed and a new one is installed. One good thing about this particular type of failure is that the chances of damaging the other components in the machine design is kept to a minimum.

Checking the efficiency of the resistor is a smart move. It should be part of the general maintenance and upkeep of any system or device that relies on the use of electrical current for operation. Depending on the design, it could take minutes to replace a malfunctioning resistor and get things back to normal.