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Why does my safety switch keep tripping?

A constantly tripping safety switch can be so frustrating. Even more so because it always seems to happen during the busiest times of the day, like in the morning when you’re trying to get ready for work or in the evening during dinner prep. However, the reality is each time the safety switch trips it could be saving a life.

The safety switch in most homes across Australia is connected to the power point circuit, with some forward-thinking homes having them fitted to all electrical circuits. Its job is to very quickly (around 0.03 of a second) cut the power supply when a disruption to the flow of electricity occurs along the circuit. This flow disruption can be caused by problems such as a faulty appliance or an electrical wiring issue. Or it can be due to a person coming in contact with electricity.

Safety Switch - Clipsal

In all these situations it’s really important that the power supply is stopped as fast as possible to avoid electric shock, fire, or death.

So even though at the time your safety switch tripping may seem like an inconvenience, it could actually be saving a life. The safety switch is designed to be really sensitive and detect quite small changes to ensure it activates to protect residents.

In many cases, the fault is caused by a home appliance. Electric kettles and toasters are common culprits, with everything from the dishwasher, the fridge or the hairdryer likely suspects as well.

How to work out why the safety switch keeps tripping?

Sometimes, when you stop to think about it, the cause of the tripping will be fairly clear. Maybe it trips halfway through cooking your toast in the morning or it activates the minute the electric heater is plugged in. In these cases, it’s really important to discontinue using the faulty appliance, even if it looks fine, until you can get it checked by a licenced appliance repair person.

If it’s not so obvious where the fault is occurring you can carry out this procedure to narrow down the cause of the safety switch tripping. Next time the safety switch trips:

  • Turn off and unplug all appliances on that circuit, often the power point circuit. Don’t forget items like the alarm clock, dishwasher or fridge which may have sockets which are hidden in or behind cabinets and furniture. A good tip is to go room to room working around the walls left to right making sure everything is unplugged.
  • Reset the safety switch.
  • If the switch re-trips straight away the problem could be in the wiring or electrical systems of your home. Call a licenced electrician immediately.
  • If the switch stays on work your way around the house gradually plugging in appliances. If you’ve just plugged in the lava lamp and the safety switch trips you’ve found your problem.
  • If the safety switch stays on for this whole process call your electrician for a complete electrical safety check.

If you are unsure at any time contact your licenced electrician for expert advice, testing and repairs.

More safety switch information:


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