Top 5 common reasons a safety switch goes off

John Thomas Electrical - Newcastle Electrical ContractorsThe safety of our family and our homes is always of primary concern. Making sure there is a safety switch installed is an easy and inexpensive way of reducing safety risks within the home. Safety switches are very effective at preventing injury or death caused by electric shock. They should be tested regularly to make sure they are in working order. A safety switch works by detecting tiny differences in current through electrical wiring, indicating that electricity is leaking to earth. The safety switch then shuts off the electricity supply in a fraction of a second preventing potentially fatal electric shock. There are several reasons why a safety switch may be tripped. The 5 most common reasons are:

A Faulty Appliance

When an appliance becomes damaged or develops a fault, it may start to leak excess electrical current. This excess current will be detected by the safety switch and cause it to trip. The easiest way to determine if this is the problem is by unplugging all electrical appliances at the power point, resetting the safety switch and then reconnecting the appliances one by one until the faulty appliance can be identified. Always use caution when dealing with possible faulty appliances and if in doubt contact an electrician.

Nuisance Tripping

As the amount of electrical appliances we have in our home increases, so does the likelihood of Nuisance Tripping. If there are a large number of appliances plugged in to the home at one time and a small amount of current leaks from each, the current adds up to become more substantial. This may mean that the safety switch is continuously on the verge of tripping. If there is the tiniest change in electrical current from the electricity company this can push the switch to its limit causing it to trip. This can become more of a problem in older homes where the electrical wiring is not in good condition. Limiting the amount of appliances plugged in at one time can help minimise this type of tripping.

Faulty Wiring

Faulty wiring poses the most threat to our safety and presents the worst fire risk. Fortunately, a safety switch dramatically reduces these risks. All wiring deteriorates over time and can become dangerous, so older houses are obviously more at risk. A safety switch will detect any fluctuation in electrical current caused by damaged wiring and trip, cutting off electricity immediately and stopping the wiring from burning out. A qualified electrician can assess your electrical wiring and may suggest repair or replacement.

Faulty Safety Switch

Sometimes the cause of a safety switch tripping can be the switch itself. As with any electrical appliance, a safety switch can become defective with age or mistreatment. Safety switches should be checked every six months to ensure they are working effectively. A qualified electrician can offer advice on how to do this, or do it for you if you are unsure.


Lightning strikes can also be the cause of a safety switch going off. When lightning strikes your home, power lines or a power station it may cause a power surge which can cause a safety switch to trip. If this occurs, it is best to wait until the storm passes before resetting the switch. If in doubt always consult an electrician.

Without the right safety equipment and safety precautions, electricity can be deadly. Always check with an electrician if you are unsure why your safety switch has gone off.


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