RCD safety switch keeps tripping
Stop your RCD safety switch from tripping
5 simple steps to fix your RCD when it trips.
To reset your RCD Safety Switch be thorough as it is a process of elimination!
If the RCD keeps switching off be aware that before you start, many switchboards will have several circuit breakers protected by one RCD. Switch these circuit breakers off and try to reset the RCD, then turn on the breakers one at a time. This way you can isolate what circuit is tripping your RCD. Circuits for power are often simply labeled “P” and lighting “L”. Ignore any N1, N2, numbers as these are for electricians. You can then follow these simple steps below…
1. Find out what power / lights are affected. Check the switchboard to ensure that it is actually the RCD that has tripped and not a circuit breaker. (See the 2 photos below to tell the difference between an RCD and circuit breaker).
2. UNPLUG ALL affected appliances from socket outlets and if lights are affected by the RCD tripping off, turn off all light switches as well.
Check list: Remember you must “UNPLUG” all appliances like dishwashers, any gas cooktops or hot water units with 240v plug tops for ignition, outdoor power points etc.
Once that is done, turn on the RCD by firmly pushing the switch up. You might have to flick it on, off and on again to reset it properly. Also check that the test button is not stuck in as it will prevent the RCD from resetting.
4. If power and lights appear to be on, go about restoring by ‘plugging in and turning on’ to see if it there was any particular appliance or light that was tripping your RCD.
5. If you can not find the problem call a local licensed electrician
For service call 0404 216 333 or email us
Additional information: Check your switchboard. The RCD switch should be in the up position. Check to make sure it is in fact an RCD and not just a circuit breaker which simply acts like a fuse. (Circuit Breakers can look the same but an RCD safety switch will have a test button located on the front usually with a ‘T’ symbol on it).
If the power is out due to an RCD tripping off and the RCD won’t reset, it is important to actually remove / unplug all cords from the affected power points first. (If lights are also affected make sure to turn off all lights if possible).
Pay attention to the following ~
All outdoor power outlets such as pool, water features, spa, sprinkler reticulation etc.
All concealed power outlets (dishwasher, gas stove, alarm, fridge etc).
After all appliances are unplugged, try to reset the RCD by firmly pushing the switch up. If it resets, great, now just plug your appliances back in and you may find the faulty one causing the trouble as the RCD trips off, for example as soon a kettle is plugged in and switched on.
If all power points are unplugged and the RCD won’t reset you will need to call a licensed electrician to attend to fix your fault.
Clients sometimes complain that the RCD keeps tripping at a certain time of day on a regular basis. This will give a savvy electrician a vital clue as to what may be causing it.
One of the most common causes for frequent and regular RCD tripping is the defrost cycle on a fridge, particularly the old “Beer Fridge”. Often this second fridge is an old clunker which is left out the back in a shed or under the back patio where it is prone to rusting away. The whole appliance is an electrical hazard and ‘down to earth’. Thankfully you had an RCD fitted and it has detected your faulty fridge, switched the power off and possibly save someone from getting an electric shock.
Electricians installing RCD safety switches walk away from a job well done only to be contacted the next day by irate clients who find all the power has been turned off by the RCD. When the electrician arrives on site the RCD simply resets only to have the same fault occur again the next day. What is happening here is usually a time clock program switching on an appliance which is faulty and causes the RCD to trip. In a secondary sense, it can also be things such as a reticulation system coming on at a programmed time which sprays water onto electrical accessories which are not adequately protected from water.
But often it is just the electrical defrost elements on the fridge which are built into it. These elements switch on at pre-programmed time set by the manufacturer and if these electrical elements are ‘down to earth’ it will cause the RCD to trip off. So the RCD is functioning correctly and telling you to have your fridge serviced. Remember, don’t blame the electrician, the RCD will detect faulty appliances and could save you from electric shock. I’ve installed plenty of RCD switches where clients have gladly had to service the fridge or buy a new one.