Why Does My Safety Switch Keep Tripping?

A safety switch that keeps tripping is an indication that it is doing its job in protecting you from electric shock. Investigating the cause may unveil an issue with the electrical wiring or a faulty appliance. Failure to identify and correct the issue could potentially lead to serious consequences.

While Australia has high electrical safety standards, electrocution is still a cause of death in the country, with more than half of the tragedies occurring in the home. But most of these accidents are preventable. In this article, Plumbelec Inspections will explain the most common reasons why safety switches keep tripping to help you ensure the safety and proper functioning of your electrical system.

electrician-conducting-a-test

What is a safety switch, and how does it work?

A safety switch is a device that is designed to detect abnormal currents in your electrical system. In the event of a current leakage or overload, the switch shuts off the electricity supply. This stops the current passing through the wiring system onto a person or a pet, thus preventing possible threats like electric shocks, burns, injuries and even fires. 

They are typically installed in a building’s main electrical panel or switchboard, and have a test button on their front face. Their sensors compare the current between the circuit’s active and neutral wires. Any alterations in the flow triggers an internal mechanism that opens the contact inside the switch and interrupts the electrical connection between the power source and the circuit. 

Common Reasons Why Your Safety Switch is Tripping

Safety switches are an important safety feature required by law to ensure compliance with safety standards. They can potentially save lives by preventing electrical hazards. When you experience a safety switch tripping repeatedly, it is important to take action immediately as they indicate a fault or malfunction in an electrical appliance, electrical wiring, extension lead or other electrical equipment. 

Overloading

Power sockets or power boards often trip the safety switch when there are too many electrical devices connected to the same circuit, or when a single device exceeds the circuit’s rated capacity. This causes the circuit to draw more power than it can handle. 

Short circuit

Short circuits occur due to a variety of reasons, including faulty wiring, damaged cables, or faulty electrical devices. These cause a sudden surge in the current flow, which can generate heat and potentially cause electrical fires. When there is little to no resistance in the electrical path, the safety switch detects a sudden surge and disconnects the power supply to the circuit.

Faulty electrical appliances

Faults in electrical appliances vary from damaged electrical components to drawing too much power during startup. High-power appliances can cause overloading, while damaged wiring, cords, or plugs can lead to ground faults, electrical surges and short circuits, all of which will trip the safety switch. 

Wiring issues

Most wiring issues are due to faulty wiring or incorrect installation of electrical devices, often caused by DIY attempts of electrical work. Loose connections, exposed wiring, high electrical loads or poor ventilation are some of the issues that trigger the safety switch to shut off the power supply. 

What to do if your safety switch keeps tripping?

A safety switch that keeps tripping requires immediate attention. The main thing to do is to call a licensed electrician to investigate the electrical system and make any necessary repairs in a safe manner. In the meantime, you can follow these recommendations with extra care as a prompt measure while you wait for a professional:

Unplugging appliances

If the safety switch only trips when a particular appliance is in use, this probably means that the fault is in the gadget. This device should be unplugged and not used again before undergoing repair. If you cannot identify which specific appliance triggers the safety switch, check that there are not too many electrical devices connected to the same circuit. You can unplug appliances that are not in use to avoid electrical overloads. 

Checking and fixing faulty electrical appliances

Turn off all electrical appliances and reset the safety switch. If it stays on, it is likely that the fault is in one of your appliances. You can turn on each appliance at a time to identify which is the one tripping the safety switch. Check for visible damage like frayed cords, loose connections or broken parts. Any repairs should be done by a qualified professional.

Checking and fixing wiring issues

You should only check for wiring issues if you have some electrical knowledge and experience. Inspect the wiring for any signs of visible damage, such as frayed wires or burn marks, as well as any signs of moisture or water damage. If you find any damaged wires, they must be immediately replaced with new ones of the same gauge and type. Leave this in the hands of a qualified professional who can perform any repairs safely, ensuring that the problem is tackled from its root. 

Avoid overloading power sockets

Limit the number of electrical devices connected to a single circuit, and spread out the use of  large appliances throughout the day to reduce the load. Instead of extension cords, you should ask a qualified electrician to install additional electrical outlets to help distribute the electrical load across multiple circuits. 

It is important to highlight that these are actions that a person can take as an interim measure or for general maintenance of their electrical system, in order to minimize the risks of electrical accidents. However, if the safety switch keeps tripping and the power is continuously disconnected, we insist that it is crucial to seek the advice of a qualified technician to assess the situation and make any necessary repairs or adjustments to your electrical system. Only a licensed electrician can ensure your electrical system is safe and functional.

Plumbelec Inspections has conducted thousands of electrical safety checks to identify any faults or malfunctions in any part of the electrical circuit, including appliances, wiring, extension leads and other equipment. Our professionals will also test the functionality of the safety switch itself to ensure the mechanism continues to work correctly, replacing it if necessary. 

Safety Switch Still Not Resetting?

The key to avoiding preventable electrical accidents is to pay attention to the signs of any malfunctions and be prompt and cautious in taking action. If the safety switch keeps tripping, there may be underlying issues that can only be identified with the use of proper equipment. Call a licensed electrician from Plumbelec Inspections, and they will thoroughly check everything from electrical continuity and resistance in the circuit, to wiring issues and faulty appliances. 

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