What to Do When a Safety Switch Gets Tripped

Is your safety switch tripping frequently?

It’s a sure sign of electrical problems requiring your immediate attention. Over 40% of house fires in Australia start because of faulty electrical wiring. If you want to preserve your home, pay attention to your safety switch and look for signs.

In this guide, you’ll learn some reasons behind a tripped safety switch. We’ll also discuss some methods to fix them. Read on and find out more:

What Is a Safety Switch?

Safety switches are devices that protect your home from electric shock. Its primary function is to measure the electricity flowing within your property. It ensures that leaks won’t happen.

Once it detects leaks, it immediately turns off your power. It secures you from faulty electrical wiring, defective fittings, and faulty home appliances. That way, you’ll never get electrocuted.

You’ll usually find safety switches on your home’s switchboard. They have various shapes, sizes, and types. They either come as a stand-alone device or are coupled with a circuit breaker.

What’s the Difference Between a Safety Switch and a Circuit Breaker?

Most people talk about the two devices as if they’re interchangeable and serving the same function. While their functions complement each other, they’re different. It applies even when you find them in the same electrical control panel.

A circuit breaker tracks and detects circuit overload. If a specific circuit draws too much power, the breaker trips, and cuts power off. The difference is subtle, but circuit breakers won’t save people from various electrical injuries.

Breakers only look for overloading and won’t do anything when electrical leaks happen. It means you’re at risk for harm when you’re relying solely on a circuit breaker.

Safety switches look for any form of electrical inconsistencies. As soon as it detects anomalies, it shuts the power off. It’s why your home must rely on both devices for total protection.

Why Is Your Safety Switch Tripping?

Most professional electricians can attest that hundreds of safety switches trip due to various reasons. Some are obscure, like a swarm of bees making a hive to an outdoor power point.

The ones listed here are the usual suspects for a tripped safety switch:

1. Faulty Electrical Appliances

In most cases, the following appliances cause your safety switch to turn off your power:

  • Washing machines
  • Dryers
  • Toasters
  • Electric kettles
  • Fridge or freezers
  • Dishwashers
  • Range hoods

Worse, it’s a combination of everything. As your appliances age, they suffer from various wear and tear effects. When it happens, they’re more likely to become faulty.

Detecting the problem is often a trial-and-error process. Unplug all your appliances and plug them one at a time. Once the safety switch goes off, you’ll know the appliance causing your trouble.

You have two options: fix or replace it with a new one. Either way, you must act quickly or the problem will get worse. Meanwhile, check this guide and learn some ways to repair a tripped switch.

2. Intermittent Tripping

When it happens, it’s usually the fault of one electrical appliance. The reason for the frequent intermittent tripping is that the appliance is in perfect working order for a day or two. After that, the RCD kicks in.

Most electricians won’t find a fault using their insulation resistance tester in this situation. It’s because there are no present electrical hazards at the moment. It’s why they’ll also use trial and error tactics to discover the faulty appliance.

3. Storms

Safety switches consider electrical storms as their nemesis. RCDs value consistency, meaning wild voltage fluctuations will cause them to switch the power off. The closer the storm, the more likely you’ll experience outages.

However, thunder and lightning aren’t the only causes of a tripped safety switch. Heavy rain and winds push excess water into exterior power points and light fixtures. The water will cause electrical imbalances and trip the switch.

4. Frail or Faulty Wiring

If appliances aren’t the primary culprits, it’s the wiring. Some old houses will have a horrible state of wiring. You’ll often see cracked, corroded, brittle, and unsafe setups in neglected homes.

The older the home, the more faulty their wirings are. It applies especially when they’re constructed in the forties to the sixties. Rewire your property and ensure that each electrical cable is new.

5. Critters

Various critters like ants, bugs, and small lizards like power points. They often get zapped, causing the safety switch to trip. Sometimes, larger creatures like possums can touch these power cables and meet an untimely end.

Other times, rodents chew through the insulation. It leaves the wiring exposed, causing more environmental damage in the long run.

To minimize critter incursions, talk with the local pest control experts. Ask for countermeasure advice and hire their services. After that, get electricians to repair damaged electrical systems.

What to Do When a Safety Switch Gets Tripped

A tripped safety switch is annoying, but the electrical maintenance and repair involved are straightforward. Your first move is to reset the switch. Flick it back to the ON position and see whether it fixes the problem.

The issue is sometimes temporary. Within a few minutes, the safety switch will reset on its own. It’s why you must wait before resetting the safety switch.

If the switch won’t reset, unplug every appliance and turn all lights off. Never forget hidden power points like one behind fridges, washing machines, and dishwashers. Do it for outdoor appliances as well.

After resetting the switch, avoid touching anything electrical if it fails. Otherwise, ensure that the overloaded power points stay disconnected. Plug your appliances on other sockets instead.

When to Hire an Electrician

If the electrical work involved is too complex or dangerous, get an electrician. Some electrical tasks are DIY, but it’s better not to risk yourself. It’s also a great way of saving more money since you won’t have to worry about mistakes.

Regardless, Australian laws require a licensed electrician to do any electrical work. It means you won’t have lots of legal options when fixing a safety switch. It’s restrictive, but it’s there to protect your life and home.

How to Choose an Electrician

Your safety is paramount, so you must put more thought into hiring an expert. Here are some steps to get a reputable electrician in your area:

1. Check Their Qualifications and Licenses

To ensure a job well done, check your desired electrician’s qualifications. They must have every necessary training. Look for a Certificate III in Electrotechnology and a four-year apprenticeship.

Electricians must also have the right license to practice their profession. The requirements will depend on your locality. Check your state’s prerequisites to verify an electrician’s eligibility.

They must also be members of various electrical organizations like the ECA, ESAA, and NECA. It’s a good sign that they’re working with high standards of quality.

When meeting in person, ask them for public liability insurance copies. It ensures you won’t get into more financial trouble when an accident happens.

2. Look Into Their Past Work and Reviews

Ask your electrician for references from past clients. Look for online listings and check customer ratings. Reputable ones aren’t afraid to give their past customers’ phone numbers, so ask away.

Good electricians must show examples of their past work. If they have a website, social media profiles, or online listings, check for pictures. Be careful when they’re hesitant.

3. Get a Quote

Before making a final decision, get several quotes from various electricians. When the quote comes, ensure that it’s the same set of services. For example, one may have a higher price but covers both labor and materials.

If you compare quotes, you’ll avoid getting ripped off. The cheapest quote isn’t always the best, so don’t take it all the time. It’s better to pay higher for an expert than hire someone with mediocre services.

Most electricians charge either a flat service fee or by the hour. It often covers the first half-hour working on the job. After that, the hourly rate starts, calculated using 15-minute increments.

When hiring electricians that won’t charge call-out fees may charge more for their first hour. It depends on several factors, like the ease of access and job complexity. Typical service fees range between $70 and $130 while the hourly rate is between $60 and $150.

4. Communicate

Electricians are happy to explain their tasks at every step of the process. It’s why you must feel comfortable enough to tell them about your concerns. There are no stupid questions, so never hesitate and ask about the things that bother you.

Remember, they’re the experts. Take their recommendations seriously. They know how to better deal with your electrical issues.

Fix Your Safety Switch Now!

Your safety switch is your defense against electrical anomalies. When it happens all the time, look into what you can fix. Call in the experts and let them deal with the more complex problems.

Hungry for more home improvement tips? Read our other posts to learn more today.

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