What triggers a safety switch?

What Triggers a Safety Switch?

There are many reasons why a safety switch goes off.

But first…

What is a Safety Switch?

Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity and work by detecting differences in currents within electrical wiring. Once an abnormality is detected the electrical supply is shut off in a matter of milliseconds, protecting you from an electrical shock – or worse. However, it is important to note a safety switch only offers protection on the circuit it is installed on. This is why we insist they are installed on all circuits.

By law, safety switches must be installed in all new homes and in buildings. This law was introduced in 1991, so if your home was built before then it may not be protected at today’s standards. This could be a risk as any electrical fault could cause serious damage.

What Triggers a Switch?

A Faulty Appliance

A damaged household appliance will cause excess electrical currents which may cause the switch to trip. It is quite easy to detect which appliances are tripping your safety switch. Simply plug them all into the powerpoint one by one to identify the culprit.

Nuisance Tripping

With loads of different appliances running at the same time, the possibility of a trip becomes far greater. If appliances have small current leaks, the excess current will be substantial. When all these small currents combine, your safety switch is always on the verge of tripping.

To minimise the danger you can limit the number of appliances plugged in at one time.


Lighting storms are a key contributor, even if rare. If your switch does happen to trip in the case of a storm, be sure you wait until the storm passes before resetting the switch.

Faulty Wiring

The greatest fire risk in your home is faulty wiring.

As electrical wiring deteriorates over time, the risk to your home increases. For older homes, safety switches are essential because they detect the fractionations and shut down your power before the wiring burns out.

Faulty Switches

Performing regular checks could save your home because sometimes the cause of a trip is the switch itself.

Here at Metropolitan Electrical Contractors, we specialise in all safety switches services.

Testing your Switches

It is advised your safety switches are tested every three months to ensure there is no possibility of a fault. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard.

You can follow these simple steps to test them yourself:

  • First, let everyone in your household know that you are going to test the switch because it will cut power to all electrical devices.
  • Next, go to the switchboard and press the ‘T’ or ‘Test’ button located on the board. When you flick it off, if the power goes out when it is working. Check inside your home to see which appliances are off. This allows you to distinguish if they are protected by the safety switch. If the power has not been cut to the connected circuit then you are not protected and need to contact your local Metropolitan electrician.
  • After testing, turn the switch back on by pushing it upwards or twisting it – depending on your switch type. Wait two to three minutes before resetting to avoid possible appliance damage.

If you are unsure whether your home has a safety switch installed, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Or, if you find any faults, reach out to us ASAP. We can help you enjoy the perks of a safe and secure home with our installation and electrical maintenance services.

Published: 30 Mar, 2020

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