Why does my safety switch keep tripping?

As irritating as a tripping safety switch may be, it is only doing the job it is designed to do! As a safety switch is designed to shield people from an electric shock, if it has tripped that usually means there is a problem somewhere that needs to be addressed. This is usually a leaking current or a faulty appliance, so it is important to get to the bottom of the problem. It is all sorts of frustrating when you are sitting in the dark and your neighbours are watching a movie and eating their dinner with the lights on, but remember a safety switch is an important safety mechanism for possible electrical leakages in your home!

Safety Switch

What happens when my safety switch trips?

When a safety switch or RCD ‘trips’, the power to that circuit is almost instantly cut off to ensure no harm comes to the people around that particular circuitry. Remember however that a safety switch is installed only on one particular circuit, therefore if your home or office has more than one circuit then the tripping of one switch may not mean the disconnection of all power.

If your power has gone out, there is a chance that your safety switch has tripped. If this is the case, your safety switch or RCD will likely be in your fuse box or switchboard and, when you find it, if the switch is turned to ‘OFF’ this means it has tripped. Bear in mind however that some new systems will only ‘click off’ halfway, meaning the switch won’t be completely in the ‘OFF’ position. It is therefore really important to properly (and safely) check your safety switch to see what position it is in. If your safety switch or RCD is still turned to ‘ON’, but your power is off, your electrical problem does not lie with your safety switch. If your safety switch is sitting on ‘OFF’ however, you need to figure out safely why it has tripped.

Why is my safety switch tripping?

The reason why a safety switch trips can be a few different things, including (but not limited to) :

  • Damaged wiring, which is mostly caused by wear and tear over time
  • A short-term electrical fault, which is generally easily fixed
  • If you have heavy rainfall, rain damage can occur and you should definitely call an electrician if that happens
  • When too many appliances are running at once, which can cause nuisance tripping
  • RCD sensors can be triggered by electrical storms, lightning and thunder however this usually fixes itself
  • A faulty safety switch (uncommon but can happen!)

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What do I do if my safety switch keeps tripping?

If your safety switch is tripping, there are a few different ways you can address this. To begin with, it may be as quick and easy as switching your safety switch back to ‘ON’. If you give this a go, and it flips back to ‘OFF’ instantly, then there is another option you can consider… but it can be a little time consuming. It requires you to unplug every single appliance in your home (and we mean every one) and turn your safety switch to ‘ON’. If it stays on, re-plug your appliances back in, one by one, and you will likely find out which one is the culprit – freezers, irons, fridges, kettles and toasters are the common guilty parties, as well as rangehoods and washing machines.

If you find the appliance causing the tripping, keep it unplugged and ensure a qualified appliance repair technician takes a look at it.

If your safety switch is still remaining on ‘OFF’, or keeps tripping, give a licenced electrician a call and they can assess the problem.

How often should I test my safety switch?

It is recommended that you test your safety switch /RCD every month to make sure it is still working properly. To check performance, press the test button on the switch and it will trip the power and then reset by returning the switch to ‘ON’. If it doesn’t trip, contact us immediately as there is likely an issue with your safety switch or RCD.

If you would like to know some more information regarding safety switches and their installation in your home, give us a call on 1300 762 260 or complete an online contact form now.