What should you do if your safety switch keeps tripping?

A safety switch may not be the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning, but they are a super important part of your home and workplace. They are just as their name suggests - a ‘safety’ mechanism to keep you and those around you safe - but they can be a bit of a nuisance if they keep tripping. If you are finding that you turn on your kettle and the power keeps turning off, or you go to complete some ironing and as soon as the iron is on, the power flicks off, it is easy to get very frustrated with your safety switch… but remember, it is just doing its job!

Safety Switch

In saying this, however, if your safety switch is constantly tripping, this can indicate a larger issue that needs addressing. So, what is a safety switch and how does it work? And, what should you do if it keeps tripping? If you have any further questions after reading this or are unsure about anything, give your local electrician a call and they can help out.

What is a safety switch?

A safety switch is a device that is designed to protect you and your family from electric shock. Its main job is to measure the electrical current that is flowing around your home, to ensure that there aren’t any leaks to be detected. If it finds a leak, it will immediately switch your power off, to ensure you are protected from things like faulty appliances, electrical faults and defective fittings... and electric shock!

Safety switches are usually installed on the switchboard in your home, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, brands and types. They can also come on their own, or be combined with a circuit breaker for an ‘all-in-one’ option.

Is there a difference between a safety switch and an RCD?

No, there isn’t. An RCD, otherwise known as a residual current device, has the same purpose and job as a safety switch.

What about the difference between a circuit breaker and a safety switch?

Now, safety switches and circuit breakers are a little different. As mentioned above, a safety switch protects people from electric shock. On the other hand, a circuit breaker is designed to protect your appliances from a current overload.

Safety Switch

Why is your safety switch tripping?

This is likely the question you came for - why is my safety switch tripping? More than likely, a faulty appliance is setting off your safety switch and causing it to trip off the power. As much of a nuisance as this is, it is quite easy to locate the culprit and hopefully have things running smoothly again. Take a look at this video from Worksafe Queensland regarding nuisance tripping.

What is causing your safety switch to trip?

There are a few steps you can take to try and solve the mystery that is the tripping safety switch. If you are having any problems with the below steps, or are a little unsure as to what to do, give your local electrician a call and they will be able to assist.

Step 1: Is the safety switch faulty?

The first thing you need to do is figure out if your safety switch is faulty - this is relatively unlikely, but that doesn’t mean it never happens! In order to do this, turn all the switches on your switchboard off and then turn just the safety switch on. If your safety switch will turn on, and stay on, then this is a pretty good indicator that your safety switch isn’t faulty. If it won’t reset and still trips off, or the lever/mechanism doesn’t have any tension, it is likely that your safety switch is faulty and will need to contact an electrician to replace it as soon as possible with a new one.

Step 2: Turn off all powerpoints

If your safety switch seems ok, then it’s time to check your appliances. To do this, you need to unplug all your appliances in your home - yes, EVERY single one - and remove them from the socket (not just turn the switch off!). Remember to get the powerpoints outdoors, the dishwasher, any pool equipment you may have and the oven rangehood - these are easy ones to forget.

Powerpoint Cord

Once all appliances are unplugged, go and turn your safety switch on, making sure all the other circuits are now on in the switchboard too. If your safety switch stays on, this is a good indicator that you have a faulty appliance causing the nuisance tripping. However, if your safety switch continues to trip, you will need to call an electrician as there may be a wiring issue or you may have a faulty safety switch.

Step 3: Plug in appliances

If you have turned on your safety switch and it has remained on, it is time to plug your appliances back in, one to by, to try and find the once which is faulty. If this sounds like a big task, there is a way to make it a little easier - plug in a radio first. Plug in a radio and then plug in each appliance and, when you hear the music turn off, you have found your culprit. Remove this appliance, reset your safety switch and plug all other appliances back in again.

At the end of Step 3, you will hopefully have found which appliance is causing the problem!

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Your professional and friendly local electricians

If you have any questions regarding the safety switches in your home, or would like an electrical professional to attend your home or workplace to test or check any electrics, give Alltronic Electrical a call on 07 3353 3248 or complete an online quote form now. We are the experienced experts when it comes to electrical safety in Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs, so get in contact now!

Remember, never carry out electrical work yourself and always use a qualified electrical contractor. The above information is basic fault finding that is simple and safe to do, however, should be used as a guide only. Call a licenced electrician.

Resources :

Workplace Health and Safety (Electrical Safety Office - FAQ) : https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/safetyswitches/frequently-asked-questions

Workplace Health and Safety (Electrical Safety Office - FAQ) : https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/safetyswitches/safety-switch-films

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