electrical appliance

Faulty Electrical Appliances - What You Need to Know

Tripped Circuit Breaker

The commonest cause of electrical problems is faulty electrical appliances. And the commonest electrical problem is tripped circuit breakers. When a circuit breaker detects a surge of electricity from a malfunctioning electrical appliance it instantly shuts the circuit down.  Just turning on an electrical appliance sometimes trips the breaker.  In that case, it’s easy to guess what caused the problem. But that’s not always the case.

Faulty Appliance

If your circuit breaker trips, resist the temptation to go to the switchboard and simply turn it back on. The faulty appliance that caused the problem will simply cause it again and the switch will immediately flip off again. So go around the circuit and unplug everything. Make sure that you unplug all electrical appliances including the rangehood, dishwasher, microwave and fridge. The fridge can be awkward to turn off and unplug, so it can be left on. When you switch the breaker back on, the fridge can be the first electrical appliance on to test which is the faulty appliance. If the switch won’t go back on, the fridge is most likely the problem. Now you do have to unplug it to confirm that it is the problem. If you still have problems with the circuit breaker with everything off, you have something wrong with your electrical wiring or with the switch itself. That’s the time to call in an electrician.

unplugged appliance
Unplug all appliances

The Faulty Electrical Appliance Revealed

When you turn on each electrical appliance, you need to know exactly when the circuit breaker trips. It helps to put a clock radio or some noise making electrical appliance on the circuit so that the noise stops when you turn the faulty appliance on. That should show you which one is the faulty electrical appliance. It is rarely worth your while to have the faulty appliance repaired. It should be discarded.

Power Surges

Unfortunately sometimes circuit breakers are themselves faulty. That means that a malfunctioning appliance can create power surges on the circuit. This can cause problems ranging from irreparable damage to microprocessor electronics to a major electrical fire. A faulty electrical appliance on the circuit that is not curtailed by a circuit breaker can over time do as much damage as one large power surge. A surge protector is a good back up that can prevent this.

Valuable Electrical Appliances

The damage from a rogue appliance isn’t always the startling scorch marks and melted plastic that you sometimes see on light switches and powerpoints. You can get cumulative damage to sensitive electrical components from continual smaller power surges as well. The best answer to this problem is a localised surge protector for valuable electrical appliances such as computers and home entertainment systems.

Faulty Electrical Appliances - What You Need to Know
A surge protector can prevent damage to valuable electronics

Overloading the Electrical System

It’s worth pointing out that it is not only a faulty electrical device that can cause a circuit to switch off. You can overload a circuit with too many devices trying to draw too much power all at once. There are a couple of solutions to this particular dilemma. The most obvious one is not to overload the circuit. But if, for instance, the circuit just isn’t up to the demands of a modern kitchen the best thing to do is to get an electrician in to make it more fit for purpose.

Safety Switches

Circuit breakers can help protect electrical equipment and prevent fire, but they won’t necessarily save you from electrocution. Protection from electric shocks is provided by an RCD safety switch. Like a circuit breaker, an RCD safety switch cuts off the power when there is overloading or faulty appliances.  The critical difference is that safety switches will shut the circuit down when power leaks out of the circuit. That means someone trying to fish a piece of toast out of the toaster with a knife who becomes part of the circuit with current running through them will trip the safety switch in less than half a second. That means an unpleasant jolt rather then electrocution. So, it’s best to have safety switches backed up by surge protectors if you want good protection for both your property and your person.


Published: 5 Mar, 2021

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