If you experience a power outage, here is a step-by-step guide by a licensed electrician on what to do when your safety switch trips.
It’s 6:00am in the morning. You’re standing in the kitchen making your daily coffee ahead of a busy day at work and suddenly, the power goes off.
What do you do when your safety switch trips?
Firstly, you’ve isolated the fact that it’s just your house and not the entire street by checking to see the neighbour’s lights are still on. Now that you’ve established there isn’t a power outage across the entire Northern Beaches, you’re ready to get things up and running again.
Step 1. Switch off all appliances
Old, damaged and faulty appliances are common culprits for a power outage. Therefore, switch off your appliances and unplug them all if possible. While unplugging a washing machine or dishwasher may not be the easiest task, sometimes these larger white goods can be the reason for the power outage. Furthermore, if there’s a water leak present, you will be able to see the cause of the safety switch trip and resolve it immediately.
Step 2. Turn off the main electricity switch
Locate your power box, open the hatch and turn the master switch off at the power board. If it’s evening time, make sure you have a torch in hand so you can see what you’re doing! Turning off the main switch resets all circuits.
Step 3. Reset the safety switch
After resetting the safety switch and turning the master switch back on, you should be back up and running. However, you may need to dig a little deeper if the switch continues to trip once you’ve followed steps 1-3. This is a common occurrence in households where the circuit is overloaded say, during a heat wave where the air conditioner is blasting.
Step 4. Isolate the problem
It’s likely you’re running your TV, toaster, computer, phone charger, coffee maker and possibly even a microwave or washing machine all at once. This high electrical load can cause the safety switch to trip without warning.
Therefore, if your safety switch continues to trip, try to separate your appliances so the power is more evenly distributed. Often, I see households with multiple power boards connected to a single socket, evidently causing constant power outages.
It’s also worth reviewing the condition of your appliances. If you’ve been using an old toaster, for example, or even one that’s poorly made from a cheap manufacturer, tripping could be a result. Eliminating the faulty appliance and resetting the safety switch can be a simple 2-minute job if you see the same pattern of power outages using the same appliances.
If you have a concern about an electrical appliance that may not meet safety standards, you can report it to NSW Fair Trading.
Step 5. Call an electrician
Safety switches are fantastic for eliminating power and saving lives, but there may be other issues beyond the innocent coffee maker that trips the power.
In the case where there’s been water damage (e.g. rain, hail or storm) or where you suspect there is a fault in your electrical wiring, the safest option is to call an expert to resolve the issue. A local electrician can make a quick inspection, ensure your safety switches are installed correctly or reinstall new ones if they’re too old.
In short, safety switches save lives and you don’t want to take the risk by ignoring electrical problems in your home. Safety switches are a legal requirement under NSW legislation, so be sure to play your part in offering protection against electric shock.