Safety switches are designed to save lives by cutting power in as little as 30 milliseconds. They have been mandatory on power circuits since the nineties however many older homes don’t have protection on circuits for lighting, air conditioners, pool pumps, hot water and stoves and sometimes even lights. If a homeowner is unsure, call your electrician to provide a safety inspection and advice.
There are various types including combination safety switches that protect both power and light circuits and appliances connected to them with the purpose of protecting against injury and death.
Many home owners are aware of safety switches but don’t know what to do when they “trip” or what type they have or even what part of the electrical circuits in the home have circuit protection.
Remember Electricity kills – Be safe and call a licensed electrical contracting firm to assist, but in 80% of cases, a power loss is attributed to an appliance in your home with a fault. This is something a person can ascertain if they feel competent and fit to do – as it can be time consuming and is the first thing your electrician will also do – but if you can’t, your electrician is happy to do it for you.
WHAT TO DO IN A POWER LOSS
1/ Check your meter box – if a safety switch has not “tripped”, check with your neighbours to ascertain if the power loss is a street issue with the supplier and notify your supplier if this is the case.
2/ If the safety switch has tripped it will be in the “Off” position which means your safety switch is working and there is a fault with either your appliances or the circuit.
To check if it is appliance –
3/ Unplug all appliances throughout the house. Yes, unplug ALL appliances not just turn them off. This includes fridges, pool pumps, dishwashers – absolutely everything that connects to a power point.
4/ Reset the safety switch
5/ If the safety switch doesn’t reset – call your electrician to fault find the problem
6/ If the safety switch does reset – plug in and turn on one (1) appliance with noise such as a TV or radio. The noise provides an audible indicator when the safety switch trips again.
– Plug in all other appliances one at a time. If the safety switch trips again when you plug in an appliance, that appliance will be the problem. Continue the process to check all other appliances. Old faulty extension cords and power boards are a common problem causing safety switches to trip along with fridges, kettles and toasters.
In 20% of power loss cases, an electrical contractor is required to repair a variety of problems:
- Water egress into joints of conduits, junction boxes and power points
- Termites in walls
- Birds, rats or possums chewing through cables
- Old faulty and dangerous cabling.
Safety switches in your home should be tested at least annually.
Test a safety switch by pressing the ‘Test’ or ‘T’ button. The safety switch should immediately trip to the ‘Off’ position. You will then need to return the switch to the ‘On’ position.
If your safety switch does not trip to the ‘off’ position after you have pressed the ‘Test’ button, turn off the power immediately and call your electrician.
Mark Hellyer is proud to be the preferred electrical contractor for many local businesses and homeowners for 30 years.