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Downstairs fuse keeps tripping....

Hi there!

A few days ago my mother told me that her downstairs sockets kept tripping. So I have been down to see if I could locate the problem.

Im not an electrician but used to fit alarms so I know how to wire a plug and such simple things.

I went to her fuse box and indeed the trip for downstairs was in the off position I flipped it back on and the electric came on....I decided to open a few sockets to see if any where faulty - she had one last year that was.

The first one I came to (in the front room) had a brown mark inside as if it had been brunt, I attempted to change it but the positive cables were welded into it so I had to snip them to get them out. I then replaced the socket. I also noticed the copper wire had green on it, which seemed weird to me as this socket was positioned on the side of the house that is joined with next door and I thought the green suggested maybe water? But the plaster around the plug is not moist so I doubt it could be that??

Anyway I then opened up a few more sockets and noticed another one starting to buzz as it the electric passing through it was being shorted....I couldn't visually see an issue, so I decided to change that one too before doing so for some reason I went to the original socket I had changed and put my electric screw driver on the negative terminal and it lit up (to indicate it was live) I noticed everytime I heard this buzzing noise the negative terminal on this socket would do this. When it stopped the terminal would no longer be live.

So anyway I changed this plug too and dont appear to be hearing the buzzing noise anymore. Nor is the negative terminal in the other plug live

Turned the electric on and all was well - or so I thought. A good ten minutes later it tripped again.....I went round downstairs and turned every plug off one by one to see if I could locate what was the issue but I have every plug off and I cant see what could possibly causing it to trip?

Now the electric is tripping even quicker (Im sure its not just in my head) and it remains in the off position as when I attempt to turn it back on it immediately retrips or trips in less than a minute.

Can anyone help me with what this could possibly be? Im stumped....

3 Answers from MyBuilder Electricians

Best Answer

Sounds like its old wiring and the copper has reacted with the plasicier in the insulation over a number of years, this causes corrosion and the green goo that you are referring to.

The release of the substance is initiated and exacerbated by high ambient temperatures such as can be found in ceiling spaces and in hotter central heated hiomes.

The substance is not conductive and therefore not liable to electrical tracking. The presence of the substance does not necessitate replacement of the cable, but as you have faults on the circuit it would be advisable to get an electrician to carry out ring continuity and insulation resistance tests on the circuits.

Cables should then be assessed/considered for replacement only when insulation tests reveal failures/defects or when cracking of the insulation becomes apparent.

The green exudate is mildly toxic and can cause burning and irritation, especially to mucous membranes such as in the eyes, nose and mouth.

There has been no epidemiological link established with cancer in humans.
The substance is not water and should be removed from hands using a solvent type of cleanser. Methylated spirits is a suitable and can be used sparingly for cleaning the substance from switch plates, sockets etc.

Hope this helps, please click on "like" if it does.


Answered 12th Jan 2013

Well done for carrying out some process of elimination tests and having a go. It sounds like you’ve done your best here.

I fully recommend that you get a qualified Electrician in now, fast to sort this out and run some proper tests with the proper equipment. There’s obviously something wrong and it could prove to be extremely dangerous!

We can’t change the past but we can change the future. There could be a breakdown in Insulation, or a bad connection that causes arcing. Faults like these could easily lead to a Fire or exposed conductive parts.

My advice is use My Builder to find a local qualified and registered Electrician. If you explain what you have found, it should help and point them in the direction of the problem.

All the best
GPS Electrical


Answered 12th Jan 2013


some where your wires are either damaged or melted together , as its a rcd fault and your neutral was live , as the house was fine before , it looks like a test on the socket ring would only give you the answers really , i wouldnt recommend opening the consumer unit , ring a sparky local to you and ask how much just to test the sockets and see what they say , or ask on my buildy , let us no how you get on , kindest regards jason


Answered 12th Jan 2013

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