• Welcome to DOSBODS

     

    DOSBODS is free of any advertising.

    Ads are annoying, and - increasingly - advertising companies limit free speech online. DOSBODS Forums are completely free to use. Please create a free account to be able to access all the features of the DOSBODS community. It only takes 20 seconds!

     

DTMark

Circuit breakers

Recommended Posts

Watching TV tonight, the power went off.

That's not that unusual for here. We get at least 6 power cuts per year. However this time the problem was within the house. We reset the circuit breaker and all was fine. For about an hour. Then it went off again. This time it won't come back on.

The section that failed was "plugs down" according to the circuit board thing in the cupboard under the stairs. When that is re-enabled the breaker will trip again immediately.

We then turned off the power at every socket downstairs. No joy.

So I am led to believe that there is a fault in the downstairs power circuit that feeds the downstairs plugs.

Or, possibly, a fault in the circuit board itself on that circuit. No new appliances. Nothing unusual in terms of load. There is one socket in the kitchen on that circuit which has never worked. That's the only thing that's out of the ordinary but then it was always so.

We'll have to call someone out tomorrow. Is the above a reasonable conclusion - anything we might have missed?

Edited by DTMark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mains power can kill instantly.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever about your ability to do this safely, leave the power off until it has been inspected by a qualified electrician.  As I said, mains power can kill instantly.

Ensure the power is off to the sockets.  Check each socket is dead with a meter or lamp before opening the socket.  As the gardener said below, someone could have wired one of the sockets off the wrong circuit.

Remove all plugs from all power sockets on the affected circuit.

Open up each socket (one at a time) and inspect all wires going in to the back of each socket.  Check for snapped, discoloured (especially black deposits), frayed or damaged wires. 

The wires will move when you open the socket, so they may have been touching until you disturbed them, but not now you have the socket open.

Give each of the wires going in to the back of the socket a wiggle - they should all be firmly screwed in.  If one moves (or comes out) that will need sorting.  If there is enough spare wire in the socket, you could strip back the insulation and re-wire it.  Please only do this if you are sure the wires will not be strained as further damage could occur when you reassemble the socket.

I'd start by looking at the one that is faulty - it could be that it has a broken live or neutral (which is why it has never worked) or even earth wire which has moved and is touching one of the other wires or connections on the back of the socket and tripping the circuit breaker.

Please do not underestimate the danger of messing about with mains electricity.

Edited by Lipid
Added reference to the earth wire. Added check to make sure each socket is dead before opening. Added wiggle check and re-wiring advice..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps water has got in somewhere and is shorting out a socket. Did you unscrew each socket and pull them out to have a look? Make sure you turn the circuit breaker off before doing this - and use a multimeter to check for power before putting your hands anywhere near it. You can't rely on all the downstairs sockets being on that circuit, some idiot may have dropped a spur from upstairs / the garage.

Perhaps there is a spur off a downstairs socket feeding the garage? Maybe something's blown in there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've had a couple of power surges / interruptions recently. Just tonight the lights in the kitchen went haywire for a few seconds, rapidly going on and off. A couple of weeks back something blew on the garage roller door control box and took out the fused spur and tripped the circuit breaker.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like you have done what I was going to suggest- disconnect everything and try flipping it again.

Your kitchen socket sounds a bit dodgy, even if it's not connected to your current (no puns intended!) problem. Is it near the sink that socket? Maybe it was deemed too close to a sink so never was connected?

I would get the arsehole you have round tomorrow to check that socket while he is looking at the reason the circuit breaker is tripping. I say arsehole as a spark is a tradesman, they're not all awful though, we have one on here who seems decent. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does the circuit breaker detect include RCD functionality?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residual-current_device

If not (i.e it's an over current breaker - just like an old fashioned fuse), you probably have a short between live and neutral somewhere.

Mains voltage can jump through about 1-2mm of dry air - more if the air is damp or dusty.

If the breaker does have RCD functionality, then it could also be a short between the live or neutral and earth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've updated the advice in my original post, but I would like to reiterate that you should only try this if you know what you are doing.  I don't want to appear a health and safety nazi, but I'm not exaggerating when I say mains electricity can kill instantly, and if it doesn't kill you, it still bloody hurts.  If you just experience a dead short (i.e. no electricity passes through you) the associated bang will make you jump.

Of the three scenarios above, I have fortunately only had personal experiences of the latter two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, the gardener said:

Perhaps water has got in somewhere and is shorting out a socket. Did you unscrew each socket and pull them out to have a look? Make sure you turn the circuit breaker off before doing this - and use a multimeter to check for power before putting your hands anywhere near it. You can't rely on all the downstairs sockets being on that circuit, some idiot may have dropped a spur from upstairs / the garage.

Perhaps there is a spur off a downstairs socket feeding the garage? Maybe something's blown in there?

I'd always just turn all the power off at the first point at the meter/where it enters the property then you know everything is isolated never think it's worth gambling on what's scrawled on the consumer unit for the sake of not having to reset the clock on the microwave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As has been mentioned water usually causes the electrical fau!ts. Favourites are leaky bathrooms, bath\shower seals. And the lights\plugs below.

If you have an RCD all well and good. If you don't get one fitted. If could save your life and stop you house from burning down. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Lipid said:

.Please do not underestimate the danger of messing about with mains electricity.

Surely you turn the mains off while you work by daylight and so there is no danger? Or am I missing something?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips. I have no intention of trying to check anything - the house is rented so repairs will be at the landlord's cost.

We've gone to the additional step this morning of actually unplugging everything from the sockets, not just flipping the switches to 'off', and tried the circuit again.

It is working. The question is, for how long.. have plugged everything back in and it continues to work.

It managed about an hour last night before tripping again. Makes me wonder if something melted (inside that faulty socket?) and left overnight, it has cooled down.

My partner informs me that this particular socket did work once, he can't recall when it stopped working - was some time ago.

So it's a case of keeping an eye on it and if/when it powers off again calling the landlord. And buying a long extension cable and some candles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, DTMark said:

Thanks for the tips. I have no intention of trying to check anything - the house is rented so repairs will be at the landlord's cost.

We've gone to the additional step this morning of actually unplugging everything from the sockets, not just flipping the switches to 'off', and tried the circuit again.

It is working. The question is, for how long.. have plugged everything back in and it continues to work.

It managed about an hour last night before tripping again. Makes me wonder if something melted (inside that faulty socket?) and left overnight, it has cooled down.

My partner informs me that this particular socket did work once, he can't recall when it stopped working - was some time ago.

So it's a case of keeping an eye on it and if/when it powers off again calling the landlord. And buying a long extension cable and some candles.

More likely to be a damp/water issue if after leaving it's started working again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, SNACR said:

More likely to be a damp/water issue if after leaving it's started working again.

When I saw you had replied I just assumed you were going to try to sell him a long extension cord and some candles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, SNACR said:

More likely to be a damp/water issue if after leaving it's started working again.

Yes, anything mixing electrics/water - washing machine, dishwasher, central heating boiler is a prime candidate. Were any of those running last night Mark before/during the outages?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MrPin said:

Call the landlord, and let his electrician fix it.:Old:

Seriously, this is the best advice.

I'm a pretty hands-on bloke but in rented houses you should not touch the electrics - you could be liable for any consequences.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, onlyme said:

Yes, anything mixing electrics/water - washing machine, dishwasher, central heating boiler is a prime candidate. Were any of those running last night Mark before/during the outages?

 

Not that I can think of. It was dry here last night, too. The only thing I did wonder, is if that black cat we are currently fostering - which has to live in the kitchen (doesn't currently get on with ours) - might perhaps have urinated or sprayed against one of the sockets. But there is only one he could possibly reach, and there's no evidence of that having happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, DTMark said:

Not that I can think of. It was dry here last night, too. The only thing I did wonder, is if that black cat we are currently fostering - which has to live in the kitchen (doesn't currently get on with ours) - might perhaps have urinated or sprayed against one of the sockets. But there is only one he could possibly reach, and there's no evidence of that having happened.

You can usually get them pretty soaking wet - the distance between terminals is so great, water and small distance between conductors is needed most of the time to get significant leakage. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I changed the faces on a couple of sockets in our spare room that I only just got round to decorating this weekend (after 5 years of the wife nagging). So I took out the sockets fuse on the consuming unit, and tested the sockets with a lamp (I didn't trust it because two of the sockets upstairs had been on the lighting circuit), still live. I took out the fuses and retested one after another until all the fuses were out and the sockets were still live. I had to take the main breaker out to disconnect power from these sockets. Shocking stuff. 

I have a mate who's an electrician coming round to sort it out next week.

 

People say mains voltage electricity kills but I've been shocked loads of times over the years, once as a child for about 5 seconds (which was a bit scary). Presumably it's set to a level that won't kill you absent some pre-existing complicating condition?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Hail the Tripod said:

People say mains voltage electricity kills but I've been shocked loads of times over the years, once as a child for about 5 seconds (which was a bit scary). Presumably it's set to a level that won't kill you absent some pre-existing complicating condition?

Your shocks were probably live to earth. I've had a number of those.

I assure you that live to neutral can kill.

The only limiting factor is your body resistance. A few tens of milliamps is enough. 

Take heed of the old saying.

It's the Volts that jolts, but it's the Mills that kills...

 

XYY

 

Edited by The XYY Man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I was, say going to replace a ceiling rose, or something, I would switch the light on then switch off 'downstairs lights' on the consumer unit and make sure it goes off. In that sort of instance I would be happy to go ahead and work on it but mostly I would always switch the whole lot off.

Biggest danger is when you effectively make a circuit that goes through your heart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.