Why does my fuse box keep tripping?
A fuse switch that keeps tripping is usually caused by a faulty electrical item or an overloaded circuit. Locating the root of the problem is largely a process of elimination and something you can do yourself. Here we’ll talk you through how to work out why your electric keeps tripping and how to repair a tripped fuse.
How does a fuse work?
Fuses may just look like little pieces of wire but they are incredibly important safety components, used in all electrical circuits. The purpose of a fuse is to blow and break a circuit (preventing the flow of electric) if a current is too high and deemed unsafe. Fuses protect electrical appliances from being damaged beyond repair and can even prevent electrical fires in your home. We told you, they’re pretty important little pieces of wire!
There are several different types of fuses and you'll likely use most of them somewhere in your home. Some fuses are found inside electrical appliances or their plugs. Others are found in your fuse box, in the form of an electric breaker (i.e. fuse switch) or RCD (RCD meaning residual current device – an important safety switch that prevents electrocution and electrical fires).
Fuse box tripped? Let’s find the problem
Sockets not working? Have lights gone out? You've likely tripped a fuse switch. The easiest way to tell is by locating your fuse box and seeing if any of the electric breaker switches have flipped downwards. If they have, you have either overloaded a circuit with too many electrical appliances or one of those electrical appliances is faulty. Before you flip the switch and turn your power back on, you need to work out what’s causing the problem.
Identifying an overloaded circuit
Electrical circuits are only designed to handle a certain amount of electricity and every light you switch on or appliance you use will add to its load. If you overload them with too many devices, they will draw more electricity than they can manage and a fuse switch will blow.
If your fuse switch has tripped after you’ve been using a lot of appliances in one room, you've likely overloaded the circuit. The simple answer is to unplug some of them and move the tripped fuse switch in your fuse box back to the ‘on’ position.
While we’re on the topic of overloaded circuits, it’s worth mentioning that extension leads are often the source of the problem. Even though they have multiple sockets to use, it doesn’t mean you should use all of them at one time. Doing so may be the reason your electric keeps tripping.
Identifying a faulty electrical appliance
As we mentioned in the intro, another reason why your fuse switches are tripping could be down to a faulty electrical appliance. There may be a problem with the wiring or the electrical appliance could be old and wearing out.
You may be able to work out what’s causing the problem by looking at your fuse box. If your fuse switches are labelled, you will be able to identify the room or circuit where the fault is located and hopefully remember which device you plugged in last.
If not, you’ll have to try the longer method of unplugging all of the devices in your home, resetting your fuse switch to turn the power back on and plugging each device back in one at a time. You’ll know you’ve plugged the faulty appliance back in because your fuse switch will trip again. Once you’ve identified it, turn off and unplug the appliance before resetting your fuse switch.
Avoid using faulty appliances
It’s very important that once you identify a faulty appliance that you do not use it again until it has been checked over. If the electrical appliance is new and under warranty, you should be able to take it back to the store and get a refund or replacement. Older devices are unlikely to be under warranty and will need to be examined by a qualified electrician. They will have the skills, knowledge and tools to inspect the faulty device safely and identify whether a repair is possible.
We would suggest refraining from carrying out electrical repairs yourself. Although most people are competent in repairing a blown fuse in a plug or fuse socket in a fuse box, dealing with faulty electrics is a whole other matter and can be very dangerous.
How to repair a tripped fuse box
Today, most homes have modern fuse boxes installed with fuse electrical breakers. These are switches that simply flip down when they need to trip the electrics. They’re very easy to re-set, as all you need to do is switch them back up into the ‘on’ position.
If you live in an older property, you may still have a traditional fuse box containing fuse sockets. Each fuse socket contains a piece of wire that will physically snap or burn through to break a circuit. Replacing fuse wire is relatively straightforward. We have a step-by-step guide on how to repair a blown fuse on our website.
What if my fuse box keeps tripping?
If you can’t seem to work out why your fuse switches keep tripping or it’s happening all of the time, there could be a problem with the wiring in the fuse box. Like we said before, faulty electrics can be dangerous and even with safety measures like RCD switches in place, it’s not worth risking your safety. Rather than looking into the problem yourself, we recommend getting in touch with a qualified electrician who will know what they’re looking for and be able to fix the problem on your behalf.