Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Part 2. The 3 most Common Electrical Problems and How to Solve them.

2. A breaker has tripped.

This happens when the live wire (brown or black) touches the neutral wire (blue), or excessive current consumption in the tripped circuit. 

The factors that can cause this are ;
  1. Faulty wiring insulation.
  2. Loose wiring connections.
  3. Faulty wiring in a plug.
  4. Too many things plugged into a socket.
  5. Faulty appliances

1. Faulty wiring insulation
 This is why its a good idea to get your wiring checked in your house or apartment. With older wiring the insulation can deteriorate and expose bare wires. 
 Also be careful when hanging pictures as you might accidentally screw into a conduit carrying mains electricity. So if the trip occurs after some DIY its a good bet that, you either drilled into a mains conduit or  a screw or nail is the culprit to the short circuit. 

2. Loose wiring connections
 Over time and due to thermal expansion, it is possible for connections to become loose, more so with screw type terminals, than the newer clamp style. So as the wire becomes loose the likely hood of it touching something it shouldn't becomes greater and it trips the circuit.

3. Faulty wiring in the plug
 This can be similar to above or due to mechanical damage to the cable. Vacuum cleaners are a good one where the lead to the cleaner gets sucked up. Another one are power tools, especially angle grinders and lawn mowers.

4. Too many things plugged into a socket
 This can be very dangerous. Often it happens when a hairdryer is plugged into a circuit, the reason is the circuit is now consuming more current than the breaker is rated for. Often its not until a breaker trips that you find exactly what is connected to that circuit, it maybe more than you think. Other problems are that too many appliances on one socket can cause the either wiring to get hot and melt the insulation or the socket itself to melt. There is also a strong risk of fire as well.

5. Faulty appliances
 This is often through age of the appliance and a fault has occurred within the appliance. The worst culprits tend to be tumble dryers, washing machines, dishwashers and electric ovens.
 If this is the cause then best call out the service engineer.

So you have a tripped circuit breaker what do you do next.

The procedure is ;
  1. Find your fuse box or consumer unit and locate the tripped breaker.
  2. Try and remember if it tripped because you just plugged something in. If so unplug it, and switch the tripped breaker on. If it trips again then, follow the steps below.
  3. Inspect power cords that are plugged into this circuit, one could be damaged unplug the damaged one and try again. Repeat if necessary. If it still tripping.
  4. Make sure everything on the tripped circuit is switched off. Then switch the trip back on. If OK then try switching everything back on again one at a time and if it trips when switching something on then its either the appliance or the wiring that is at fault.
  5. Repair the faulty wiring or appliance, this step may require the assistance of a profesional.
If there is no obvious problem and it is still tripping then its going to need a qualified electrician to sort it out. 
 It is possible that the breaker itself is faulty, it does happen from time to time even so get an electrician to sort it out.

In part three we will look at what happens when the ICP (Interruptor de Control de Potencia) trips.

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