In our last blog “Safety switches vs. surge diverters vs. circuit breakers” we looked at the differences and benefits of all three to ensure that your house is as safe as possible. Remember, safety switches save you, while surge diverters and circuit breakers save your home and equipment.

Safety switches, also known as residual current devices (RCDs), are installed in your building’s switchboard to provide protection against electrocution and fires caused by electrical faults.

It is important that your existing safety switches (RCDs) be tested every six months to ensure the mechanism is working freely. Testing is really easy – all you have to do is push the “test” button on the front face of the switch (note: if your safety switch doesn’t have this button, you might find you’re actually looking at a circuit breaker). Once the button is pushed, the safety switch should trip and reset by closing. Job done! How easy is that?

Be aware though, that some appliances will need to be reset after this test, for example your clocks/radios. So, why not take advantage of power outages to test your switches (after the power is reconnected and prior to resetting your appliances). You could also use daylight savings dates as a reminder to test your switches before changing your clocks!

Without a safety switch installed, there are a number of everyday occurrences that could be putting you and your family at risk in your home. That’s why we’ve highlighted the most common causes of triggered safety switches so you know where to look for potential problems.

What is tripping my safety switch (RCD)?The most common causes of safety switches (RCDs) being triggered include:
  • Faulty appliances (most commonly toasters, kettles, dishwashers, fridges and hairdryers)
  • Hitting a wire with a nail through construction, DIY or renovation
  • Termites or ants in power sockets
  • Rats or possums chewing and damaging wires
  • Water damaging wiring after getting in through outside power sockets or lights during rain or storms
  • Lightning
  • Faulty switches
  • Nuisance tripping – as the amount of electrical appliances in your home increases, so does the likelihood of tripping. A small amount of leaked current or a minor change in the electrical current (from your provider) can push the switch to its limit and cause it to trip.
Of course, if your safety switch is triggered, these 8 easy steps will help you deal with the problem and identify the cause:
  1. Turn all circuits associated with the safety switch off
  2. Re-activate the safety switch – If it does not remain activated, call an electrician
  3. Slowly, re-activate each individual circuit, until one circuit triggers the switch again – you have now identified your problem
  4. Turn all circuits off again, and then turn them all on except for the problem circuit
  5. Search your home to find where the power points aren’t working (a good place to start is the kitchen or laundry)
  6. Unplug all the appliances that are connected to the faulty circuit
  7. Once you have double-checked all appliances are unplugged from the circuit, go back to your switchboard and re-activate the faulty circuit
  8. One by one, plug each appliance back into the power point and again identify the one that causes the safety switch to trigger.
Congratulations! Now that you’ve identified the faulty appliance, you can have it repaired or replaced by a qualified electrician.Of course, if you need help identifying the cause of tripped safety switches (RCDs) or you’d like assistance with repairs or maintenance, we’d love to chat! You can give us a call on 1300 045 103 or request a quote.
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