What Is Tripping Your RCD?

Without a safety switch installed, there are a number of everyday occurrences that could be putting you and your family at risk in your home. Safety switches, also known as residual current devices (RCDs), are installed in our building’s switchboard to provide protection against electrocution and fires. These are usually caused by electrical faults. It is important to know that these existing safety switches (RCDs) have to be tested every six months to ensure the mechanism is working fine. This testing is quite simple – all you have to do is push the “test” button on the front face of the switch and once the button is pressed, the safety switch should trip and reset by closing.

However, some appliances will need to be reset after this test, such as your clocks or radios. Thus, it is encouraged to take advantage of power outages to test your switches (after the power is reconnected and prior to resetting your appliances). You could also use daylight saving dates as a reminder to test your switches before changing your clocks! Highlighted here are some of the most common causes that has triggered safety switches so you know where to look for potential problems.

  • Faulty appliances (most commonly toasters, kettles, dishwashers, fridges and hairdryers)
  • Hitting a wire with a nail through construction, DIY or renovation
  • Termites or ants in the power sockets
  • Rodents or possums gnawing and damaging wires
  • Moisture damaging wiring after water getting in through outdoor power sockets or lights during rain or storms
  • Lightning
  • Faulty switches
  • Nuisance tripping – as a number of electrical appliances in your home increases, so does the likelihood of tripping. A small amount of leaked current or a minor change in the electrical current can push the switch to its limit and cause it to trip.

If your safety switch is tripped, these are 8 easy steps to help you deal with the problem and identify the cause so that you can rectify it immediately:

  • Turn all circuits associated with the safety switch off
  • Re-activate the safety switch – If it does not remain activated, call an electrician
  • Slowly, re-activate each individual circuit, until one circuit triggers the switch again – you have now identified your problem
  • Turn all circuits off again, and then turn them all on except for the problem circuit
  • Search your home to find where the power points are not working (such as the kitchen or laundry)
  • Unplug all the appliances that are connected to the faulty circuit
  • Once you have double-checked all appliances are unplugged from the circuit, go back to your switchboard and re-activate the faulty circuit
  • One by one, plug each appliance back into the power point and again identify the one that causes the safety switch to trigger.

Now that you’ve identified the faulty appliance, you can have it repaired or replaced by a qualified electrician. In the event you need help identifying the cause of tripped safety switches (RCDs) or need an EMT connector with repairs or maintenance, call an electrician for help.