Why does our system keep tripping out?

DW's picture
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Hi, I know nothing about electrics, so I hope I can explain this clearly enough.

We had our house fully rewired three years ago just before we moved in. Within weeks the trip switches had gone off several times. The electrician who did the rewiring came back to check the system and said he could detect no faults. Since then, I would say the longest peried between trips has been about four months. Sometimes all the ground floor sockets go, leaving the lights on, sometimes it's the other way round. This morning the upstairs lights circuit blew when the bathroom light was switched on. We had to have two under-unit light fittings changed in the kitchen recently because the bulbs were only lasting a month at the most, (we used a different electrician!) and halogen bulbs in the kitchen ceiling and in the attic room go off so quickly we're sick of changing them.

This can't be normal, can it? Is there some kind of regulating body that could check the circuits for us. I'm worried that a fault could start a fire, but I don't know who to ask, and we can't afford to have the place rewired again.

Comments

Dear DW, I am so sorry to

Dear DW,
I am so sorry to hear about the problems you are having with the electrics in your home. Without inspection and testing of your properties electrics it would be very hard to establish the cause of the problems but there are a number of possible things that spring to mind for me. There are a number of options open to you and there is something that you could try with regards to your lights tripping out. I don’t know if you use energy saving bulbs around your home but if you were, over time of course due to the cost of these bulbs, to replace your existing ones with these energy saving types you may find that the tripping of the lights may stop. I have come across on my travels of inferior bulbs causing this type of problem. The reason being is when a standard light bulb blows it can sometimes trip the circuit breaker of the lighting circuit that the bulb is connected to. Maybe having your kitchen under cabinet fittings replaced was a good thing as I am sure these were probably replaced with a fluorescent or energy saving light of some sort. Also your halogen bulbs in your kitchen and attic room can be changed for energy saving versions although they are a little more expensive than a bayonet or Edison screw type. By doing this, over time, not only will the bulbs last much longer and less likely to trip out your circuit breaker but you will also save energy and keep your electric bill down!
With regards to your sockets, you maybe or may not be aware but three years ago the regulations were different to what they are now. The main difference for you would be the consumer unit / fuse box. Your consumer unit should be what they call “ split load “. This basically means that when you had your rewire done your sockets would be on the RCD protected side of the board, and your lighting would be on the Main switch side of the board. Again without seeing your consumer unit it is impossible to tell if it is the RCD that is tripping or the circuit breaker. What I would suggest here is if it is the RCD ( the wider trip with a test button on it ) that is tripping all you need to do is unplug every appliance in your home then switch the RCD back on. If it holds on then move around your home plugging things in one at a time. If when you plug something in and it trips it could be that appliance that is at fault.
To ease your mind about the worries you have about your electrics there is something that you can do. I really would not worry too much about having to have your home rewired again as this is very unlikely.
What I would suggest you do, but there unfortunately will be a small cost involved but obviously nothing near to the cost of a rewire!, but like anything it depends how long it takes the electrician to test your property, is contact a local electrician through one of the governing bodies below:-

http://www.niceic.com/en/findacontractor/index.asp
http://www.elecsa.co.uk/searchbypostcode.aspx
http://www.napit.org.uk/fastSearch.asp

and then ask an electrician if they could do a “ Periodic inspection report “ for your property. The reasonable price for this should be between £180 - £300 depending on the size of your property. When they come and do the test the readings that they get along with other visual inspections will determine the integrity of the wiring in your home. After the test is complete you will receive some paper work and or certificate and any recommendations , if any.
When this is done you will have the knowledge and peace of mind that your property is electrically safe and if you have any further problems you also have that governing body to help and advise you further if necessary.
I hope I have been of help to you and it would be great to hear how you get on.
Kind regards,
Gary.

Hi I have a similar

Anonymous's picture

Hi I have a similar problem.

I had my house rewired approx a year ago and during the rewire they fitted a new double consumer unit. It trips out sometimes as much as 6 times a day. We have had the electrician back time and time again and he has checked and says that he can see nothing wrong with any of the circuits etc. I have tried to be a Sherlock Holmes and have done all of the obvious, isolating various circuits etc and still there is no logic to it.

Often it will go in the night when there is hardly anything drawing power - we are getting to the end of our tather with this problem.

We had no problems before with the old consumer unit with fuses.

HELP !!

Dear Gary, Many thanks for

DW's picture

Dear Gary,
Many thanks for such a prompt and comprehensive reply. We are indeed gradually changing to low-energy bulbs, but it's a slow process, and I didn't realise that low-energy halogen bulbs were available. Following your advice, we'll speed up the process and change them all. As you say, it's cheaper as well as being better for the environment! If that doesn't stop the problem, We'll follow those links and arrange for a Periodic inspection report.
Thanks again, your help is much appreciated.
DW