consumer unit fault finding

Fault finding on your electrics without calling an electrician

Electrical fault finding is what you need to do when you have a problem on you electrics.

In this guide we will give you some advice how to carry out fault finding on your electrics without calling an electrician.

This could be simple. Such as checking the fuse or circuit breaker in your consumer unit.

Common issues you might find are

  • RCD tripping
  • MCB tripping
  • Fuse blowing
  • Lights not working
  • Switches operating wrong
  • Dimmer switch not working
  • No power at sockets
  • Appliances not working

Where to start? Fault finding basics

The basics of fault finding might sound really simple and obvious. These are the most common issues that we come across. It’s usually because people have assumed it cant be the obvious poblem and have overlooked it.

Checking you power is turned on is the obvious place to start with fault finding. Is your switch on? Is your appliance plugged in?

Next, check the consumer unit or fuseboard. Has a fuse blown? Or is a Circuit breaker or RCD tripped out?

If you have a Consumer Unit (rather than a fuse box) then first determine exactly what is tripping. Is it the MCB (circuit breaker) or RCD (1 device that controls a few circuit breakers)

If an RCD is tripping then half of your property could be without power.

Make sure that when you turn it back on, it doesn’t require a reset first.

consumer unit fault finding

Easy ways to check your electrics

One of the most common electrical fault finding problems is an RCD tripping. This is very often an appliance that is causing a fault. Unplugging the faults item will fix this right away.

To diagnose an issue like this you would not need to call out an electrician. You can simply unplug your items one at a time and try turning the power back on after each item is unplugged.

This same method also applies to every electrical fault finding problem.

First isolate anything ‘on’ the circuit, then check to see if the power stays on. This could mean switching off a light, unplugging items from sockets or turning off an outhouse power supply.

Fixing Lighting Faults

Electrical faults on lights are most often caused by 3 main problems. These are the things you should check first.

Blown lamps or bulbs in a light fitting. The quickest way to find this is ensure all your switches are in the off position then turn the circuit back on.

Water ingress at an outside light can cause a circuit to trip out. Turn off the light if possible and check again.

Dimmer Switches that have stopped working.

Finding Ring Main faults

Fault finding a ring main or Socket circuit is usually the trickiest issue to find without getting in an electrician. The top 3 items that we find on a socket circuit are:

A faulty appliance plugged in. You should unplug everything on the circuit and see if you can get it to come back on. Then plug your items back in one at a time.

Outside sockets, often to sheds and ponds could be causing an issue. Because they are out in the elements they more often need to be repaired and maintained. Usually you can find a switch fused spur on the circuit that might isolate an outside electrical item.

A nailed or screwed cable is another common cause of tripping sockets. You can avoid all fault finding by simply asking the question “Have you had any work done recently?” You would be surprised at how much this one comes up.

Common Shower Faults

Showers are an item in the house that can develop faults due to the amount of power they use. As a high current drawing item they can quickly develop a fault from an issue that could go un-noticed for years in another circuit.

A visual check on the shower pull switch can show a burnt out unit. Also, checking the way it switches is ok. If no power is reaching the shower even though the circuit is on it can show a brunt out pull switch.

If the shower is lighting up, but the water is not getting hot then that shows that it could be an internal component. Most electric showers and uneconomical to repair and would require a replacement.

shower fault finding

RCD Fault Finding

The way an RCD works means that they are the most difficult item to fault find for anyone without the correct test instruments.

Your RCD can trip out due to a fault on a circuit that is already dead.

An example of this is all your MCB’s are turned off, but your RCD keeps tripping. This is due to a fault on the Neutral conductor. A fault like this would be very difficult to trace without calling an electrician.

Fault finding tools

While you can do some basic tools without any tools, you will soon struggle. A voltage indicator of some kind or a plugin tester can save a lot of time and will always be a useful tool to have in your kit.

Good luck with your electrical fault finding. If you need help feel free to get in touch with us on the form below.