If you are suffering from ‘nuisance’ tripping at the consumer unit then sometimes it is easily traced to an appliance within the home. Washing machines, cookers, kettles, fridges etc are often the culprit. There are two switches at the consumer unit which are likely to trip. These are an RCD or a MCB. RCD’s are distinguishable as they will have a small test button next to them. The test button is often marked with a letter ‘T’. MCB’s are the individual circuit breakers i.e. lighting circuit, ring final circuit, cooker circuit. On a modern consumer unit they usually have B6, B16, B32 or similar written on them, whereas an RCD will typically have 80A or 60A.

Once you know what is tripping you can try to eliminate what may be causing the nuisance tripping. Say, for example, the kitchen ring circuit MCB is the one that is tripping. With the power to that circuit off, unplug all appliances and then turn the MCB back on again. Then plug in appliances one by one, making sure they are drawing power (so for a kettle plug it in and try boiling some water). Do this until the MCB trips out again. Then you may find it is the last appliance you plugged back in to be the culprit. If unsure try unplugging everything again and turn the MCB back on. Then plug the suspect appliance back in. Does it trip the MCB? If not, try other appliances again. You can often track a fault down in this way.

The same applies for an RCD tripping. Indeed it is often more likely to be an RCD tripping than a MCB when an appliance is faulty, due to the nature of the fault.

Faults can often occur if there has been a spillage of water on an appliance. Has this happened? You may, once again, find the faulty appliance easily this way.

Other faults can occur, sometimes within the wiring that is hidden in walls and behind sockets etc. This type of fault is much harder to locate and I would recommend calling an electrician to rectify.

Many people use these to stop small children’s prying hands. They can, however, prove to be dangerous. When taking them out from the socket ALWAYS ensure the top (earth) pin is removed and does not break off in the socket. If it does break off then it can leave the ‘shutters’ that cover the live and neutral pins in an open position. This makes it far easier receive a shock. The covers themselves are not inherently bad as such, but do make sure that the earth pin does not break off in the socket. Also some socket covers are slightly flexible, which can be an issue if they are inserted upside-down by a child, leaving the live pin exposed and possible to touch with a screwdriver or similiar.

See the following website for more information on this subject: http://www.fatallyflawed.org.uk/