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Electric keeps tripping our downstairs sockets

The electric keeps tripping out the downstairs sockets. Only the main circuit breaker trips, not the individual breakers. It trips for no apparent reason and often when we are away, so not due to toaster or kettle.

We've ready lost our freezer contents twice. Sometimes when it trips and we switch it back on, it only lasts for a minute before tripping again. Other times it may days/weeks before it trips again.

Any advice please? Do we need to get an electrician to check the fuse box?

Thank you

4 Answers from MyBuilder Electricians

Best Answer

I myself had a scenario matching this a couple of years ago. After many visits trying to track down the problem appliance by use of lead run from dedicated rcbo circuit, it turned out to be the all singing and dancing fridge freezer. Because of multiple switching options varying the ma leakage the time between tripping out was variable and testing to find the fault virtually impossible. as manufacturers were worse than useless the only realistic option once the problem was located was to provide a dedicated circuit not protected by RCD. (strict installation methods apply).


Answered 7th Nov 2015

Sounds like your RCD is tripping. It's usually due to low Insulation Resistance, which can be caused by faulty appliances or fixed wiring fault. As its random best to get electrician to check the circuits for low IR and PAT test all appliances.


Answered 12th Nov 2015

The consumer unit that you have described will be comprised of several individual miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) and at least one residual current device. The MCBs provide each individual circuit with overload and short-circuit protection. The RCD(s) in your consumer unit protects each circuit against potentially dangerous earth-leakage faults.

Since it is the RCD alone that is continually tripping, there must either be an earth fault present within the wiring of one of the circuits protected by the RCD, or as is much more probable, within an appliance connected to a circuit supplying socket outlets. It may even be the case that the RCD itself is defective although in my experience this is always the least likely scenario.

The procedure to determine which particular circuit is causing the trip is as follows:

1. Turn the RCD(s) off.
2. Turn off each individual MCB that is protected by the RCD(s).
3. Switch the RCD(s) back on.
4. Switch the individual MCBs back on one by one.
5. When the affected RCD trips you have identified the faulty circuit. Leave the MCB for that particular circuit switched off for now.
6. Assuming the circuit is supplying socket outlets, disconnect all appliances that are connected to the sockets on that circuit. If any items are connected to the circuit via fused connection units (spurs), be sure to switch the spur(s) off.
7. Turn the MCB for the faulty circuit back on then reconnect each appliance one by one and switch the spur(s) back on too.
8. When the RCD trips you have identified the faulty appliance that is causing the trip.
9. Remove the faulty appliance and reset the RCD and MCB.

Having said all this, however, the above procedure may not be applicable under the circumstances as you have said that the time period between trips can vary from one minute to days/weeks in which case you will have no other option but to hire an electrician to investigate and remedy.


Answered 7th Nov 2015

Sounds like you do need one yes. Ask him/her for an EICR. Electrical Installation Condition Report. All the circuits will be tested and when that is done any faults ironed out. Hope that helps


Answered 7th Nov 2015

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