electrical fault finding switchboard

7 Steps to Electrical Fault Finding

Electrical faults in the home can put your family in serious danger if the problem is not isolated and repaired promptly. On average in Australia, there are 11 worker deaths per year from electrical faults, so you can see the risk these faults can put your family in.

Usually, when you have electrical faults in your home, the specific circuit breaker where the fault is present will trip and cut the electricity off to it. Sometimes this isn’t the case, however, and the main switch for power to your entire house might trip instead. Fault finding can help you to identify the problem circuit and allow you to return electricity elsewhere.
Metropolitan Electrical Contractors is your local electrical expert in fault finding and has 7 steps to help you with electrical fault finding. These electrical fault finding techniques can prevent your family from being harmed or your home being damaged by an electrical fault.

1. Turn All Circuit Breakers Off

Circuit-breakers-on-switchboard

If power has been cut to your entire home and it isn’t a fault from your electricity provider, you’ll find the main switch in your switchboard has been tripped (red switch in the above picture). This can trip if it detects any kind of electrical fault as a safety precaution.

The individual circuit breakers (orange switches in the above picture) will still be on, so you will first need to switch these off.

2. Turn the Main Safety Switch On

With all the switches in the off position, now you can turn the main safety switch back on. Electricity is now available in your home. With the individual circuits turned off, however, power is not yet supplied to your appliances and fixtures.

3. Turn Each Circuit Breaker Back On

With the main switch back on, you can now turn each circuit breaker switch back on. The key here is to turn each switch back on, one at a time.

4. Identify the Faulty Circuit

By turning each switch on individually, you will be able to find the faulty circuit. The faulty circuit is the one that trips back off after you’ve switched it back on! Some component of this circuit is causing your electrical fault.

5. Turn All Switches Off Again

With the faulty circuit identified you must now turn all the switches back off again.

6. Turn the Electricity Back On

Now we can begin the process of turning electricity back on to the circuits that aren’t tripping. Firstly turn the main switch on and then turn each circuit back on except for the faulty one.

You now have power back to your home and don’t need to worry about that faulty circuit tripping again.

7. Call a Fault Finding Electrician

With the faulty circuit identified and power cut off from it, it’s time to call in a professional fault finding electrician. Until your faults are resolved, this switch won’t stay on and any appliances connected to the circuit won’t have power.

What Causes Electrical Faults?

Overloaded_powerboard_electrical_fault

An electrical fault can be caused by a range of different problems in your home. Some are human error and can be easily fixed, while others might be more systemic.

Here is a list of the most common causes of electrical faults:

  • Overloaded circuit – too many appliances or equipment are connected to the circuit and the electrical demand exceeds the maximum supply available
  • Wiring in the main electrical box is packed too tightly – wires should have approximately 30 mm of space between them to prevent them from being damaged during installation or repairs
  • Loose connections in the main panel – connections in the main panel should be installed securely

Some of these are, unfortunately, out of your control beyond ensuring your electrician is fully licensed. There are a few things you can do at home to prevent faults though.

How to Prevent Electrical Faults

The first, and easiest way to prevent electrical faults is to ensure any electricians you have working in your home are fully licensed. In fact, it’s actually illegal for unlicensed or unregistered electricians to do any electrical work according to BUILD. Improper electrical work is a one way trip to an electrical fault somewhere down the line.

You can prevent faults in your home by taking action yourself too:

  • Inspect your wiring regularly for damage
  • Have a dedicated circuit for energy-intensive appliances such as air conditioners
  • Don’t overload a circuit with too many connections or by piggybacking powerboards onto powerboards
  • Regularly have an electrician inspect your switchboard for faults

Sometimes a fault simply can’t be stopped, so what system is in place to protect you and your home?

What Are Closed, Open and Short Circuits?

Your switchboard protects both your family and home from electrical faults by the use of closed and open circuits. What are these though?

Open and Closed Circuits

Diagram-of-open-and-closed-circuit

A circuit is made up of electrical wiring and components such as fans, switches and lights. In order for electricity to flow, the wiring and components must form a closed path that electricity flows through. This is a closed circuit.

Any interruption of this closed path will form an open circuit. This interruption might be a switch in the off position or even faulty wiring. An open circuit will stop the flow of electricity and won’t power any connected component.

A simple example of this is a light and its switch. When the switch is on, the circuit is closed and electricity flows through it. This causes the light to turn on. When the light switch is turned off, the circuit is interrupted (open) and the light turns off as electricity no longer flows.

Your circuit breaker acts like the switch in this case. When it detects an electrical fault it trips and opens the circuit, stopping the flow of electricity in this circuit.

Short Circuits

While open and closed circuits are part of the normal operation of your electrical equipment in your home, a short circuit is bad news. This is where a connection is made where it shouldn’t be and electricity flows through it.

Your circuit breaker aims to protect your electrical systems from this problem.

Electrical Fault Finding Electrician

electrical fault finding electrician working on switchboard

Faulty electrical systems in your home put your home and family at great risk of dangerous electrical problems. These risks include electric shocks and even electrical-related fires.

Unless you’re a licensed electrician, you won’t be able to identify the cause of your electrical problems or carry out the necessary repairs. That’s why it’s important you have a qualified electrician out for their fault finding electrical services.

Metropolitan Electrical Contractors provides outstanding emergency electrical services to homes across Australia. We understand the risks an electrical fault puts your home and family in and have advanced electrical fault finding techniques to keep your home safe.

Not sure you’re up to finding the electrical faults on your own? That’s not a problem – a Metropolitan electrician can be at your home just 1 hour* after your call with the best fault finding techniques, equipment and knowledge to get your home’s electricity under control.


Published: 2020-09-24

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