How to reset a tripped switch

It’s one of the immutable Laws of Life. Just as that short supermarket checkout queue – the one that you join – will turn out to be the slowest moving, and that vitally important phone call will break up in the middle of your most persuasive argument, so power outages will occur at the worst possible moment.

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No power – tripped switch?

 

It’s one of the immutable Laws of Life. Just as that short supermarket checkout queue – the one that you join – will turn out to be the slowest moving, and that vitally important phone call will break up in the middle of your most persuasive argument, so power outages will occur at the worst possible moment. The oven packs up when you’ve invited the whole family round for a Sunday roast, or (in the days before catch-up) the TV goes AWOL in the middle of that must-see movie.

 

Those of us of a certain age – or with long memories – will recall that widespread power outages, usually caused by external factors (particularly in the mid-1970s), were once very common. They are now relatively unusual, thanks to improved supplier reliability and technology. Rare enough for a widespread power failure to be cause for comment.

 

Which means that, should you experience a power outage these days, it is likely to be a fault within your own four walls.

 

The good news is that, like the National Grid, domestic electrical systems are much safer and more reliable than they used to be. Thanks to improved rules and regulations, and some sophisticated gadgetry, we’re much less likely to electrocute ourselves trying to fix a domestic power outage in the dark.

 

One such gizmo is the Residual Current Device, or RCD. And it’s a vitally important one, because RCDs protect people from electrocution in a way that simple fuses and circuit breakers do not.

 

 

What is an RCD?

 

An RCD is a sensitive safety device that automatically switches off your electricity if it detects a fault. More or less mandatory these days, fixed RCDs (which provide the highest level of protection) are installed in or adjacent to the consumer unit (fusebox). Each RCD can be applied to an individual ring or radial circuit, or to a group of circuits.

 

The RCD constantly monitors the electrical current flowing through one or more circuits. If it detects electricity flowing down an unintended path, it will switch the circuit off almost instantly, significantly reducing the risk of death or serious injury. For example, if you are using an electric lawnmower and sever the cable, or if the electric shower in your bathroom malfunctions, the RCD will ensure that the electricity stops flowing.

 

 

How do I know whether or not I have an RCD fitted?

 

If you’re in a new build, or you’ve had any significant rewiring work done since mid-2008, you almost certainly have an RCD. To check, go to your consumer unit and look for a device nearby with a button marked ‘T’, or ‘Test’. This test button is one of the features of an RCD.

 

If you don’t find a fixed RCD, we strongly advise you to get one fitted. At Excel Electrical, all our engineers are experienced, qualified and certified to install fixed RCDs, with the minimum of disruption and at an affordable price. There are numerous fixed RCDs on the market, and our electricians can offer advice on the best choice for you and your pocket. Our main priority is to keep you safe.

 

 

How to reset a tripped switch

 

Be prepared.

 

Understandably, consumer units tend to be hidden away in dark places – even we would admit that the fusebox is probably not your home’s most attractive feature!

 

The days when one would approach the problem area with a sputtering candle and a box of matches are – or should be – consigned to history. We recommend having a good, powerful torch to hand – or, better yet, a battery-powered lantern for a more ambient light.

 

If you can, print out the flow charts featured here, or take a screenshot and save them to your phone, tablet, laptop or other battery-powered device. Following the step-by-step processes described in the charts may be more or less tedious, depending on whether you’ve lost all power or just a single circuit, but this should enable you to identify and isolate the problem. It might be just a blown light bulb, or a faulty sandwich toaster – in which case either can be easily replaced.

 

Remember that an RCD’s primary purpose is to keep you and your electrical system safe. If it trips once, the problem might be easily fixed. But if the RCD keeps tripping, it’s doing its job – warning you about a potentially dangerous problem. Don’t ignore the warning – it’s time to call a qualified electrician.

 

Excel Electrical is here to help – give us a call on 01508 488007.

 

 

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