How to identify electrical faults

Electrical faultfinding is not always easy, but being able to identify electrical faults and then understand how to correct them, or ask for professional help, is very useful.

There are a variety of electrical faults that can be sorted safely and easily by the homeowner, particularly those associated with appliances.

Questions to ask to identify an electrical fault

If your electricity supply is still working:-

How many items are affected?

  • If it is just one – check the plug. Wiring may have come disconnected, or the fuse may need replacing. If the appliance is faulty then get it repaired or replaced.
  • If it is several items – check your consumer unit/fuse box – one of the circuit breakers may have tripped, or a fuse may have blown. Turn off all appliances on that circuit and reset your circuit breaker by putting switch in an upright position – or replace the fuse. Then manually check each appliance and fitting on the circuit, but turning them on, one by one – this will identify the broken item.
  •  If you still have problems – call in a qualified electrician.

If your electricity supply is not working:-

  • Check to see if your neighbours have lights, it may be that the power to your neighbourhood has been cut.  
  • Re-set your main switch in the consumer unit, or replace a fuse in your fuse-box – if it trips again, carry out checks with each circuit breaker in turn. 
  • If that doesn’t sort the electrical fault – then call in a qualified electrician, such as iRewire on 0800 788 0629

Electrical fault finding help – how to identify electrical faults

Circuit breaker tripping

Hairdryers and microwaves are just some of the higher wattage items in your home, using a lot of power. Try not to use several on the same circuit as this can cause circuit breaker tripping. If you have a circuit breaker that trips regularly, look at what was being used when it tripped and remove appliances one by one from the circuit to find the faulty appliance.

Circuit overload

This electrical fault is often due to the use of multiple plugs from one socket. An easy way to reduce this is to remove devices that are not in use – such as phone chargers (they can draw power even when not connected to the phone). Also ensure that you are not overloading one socket by using multiple extension leads.

Electrical surges

Electrical surges can be caused by faulty appliances and bad electrical wiring.   Each surge will only last a few seconds, but multiple surges can damage electrical appliances. If you experience electrical surges try removing devices on a systematic basis to see if this prevents them.

Electrical Shocks

Even though electric shocks received within the home are usually mild they are not a pleasant experience. Often happening when you switch an appliance on or off – it could be either the appliance itself or the wiring within the socket. To test this try the appliance in another socket – but beware of getting another shock.

Light bulbs flickering

Light bulbs flickering is an this electrical fault and is probably due to a poor connection on the circuit – and isolating this can be tricky – it may be better here to call in an electrician.

Plug-in appliances not working

If a plug-in electrical appliance isn't working, try the appliance in a different socket, if it works then there is a fault in the socket, possibly loose wiring. If it is still not working, try the appliance in a different circuit (this could mean on a different floor of the house) – this could identify a dead circuit. If it does not work in a socket that is fine, then check the plug wiring and replace the fuse.

Light switches not working

Light switches - specifically dimmer switches - that do not work correctly can often mean sub-standard products, the incorrect type of bulb or a fault in the outlet, circuit or wiring. This may well need a professional electrician to rectify.

Before you begin to rectify any electrical faults always follow safety codes

  • Switch off the main power at the consumer unit or fuse box
  • Isolate the circuit you plan to work on by closing the circuit
    • Remove the fuse, or
    • Switch off and lock the breaker
  • Check the circuit is dead with a voltage tester or socket tester

Never take risks with electrical safety

If electrical faults persist and you cannot identify the source, then call a trained electrician. Safety around the home is paramount, call iRewire and take no chances.

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