What is a safety switch?
A safety switch is a device that quickly switches off the electricity supply if an electrical fault is detected, to minimise the risk of electricity-related fires, electric shock, injury and death.
What is the difference between a safety switch and a circuit breaker?
The biggest difference between a safety switch and a circuit breaker is that a circuit breaker is designed to protect your appliances and home wiring (black switches below), while safety switches are designed to protect you from electric shock caused by an electrical fault (blue switch below).
What might cause a safety switch to trip?
The safety switch is triggered to 'trip' by a change in the flow of electricity through the circuit it is fitted to. There are a number of common reasons why a power circuit safety switch will trip including:
overloaded powerpoints or power boards
faults in your home wiring
water in the walls or ceiling affecting the power circuit
On the other hand, if a lighting circuit safety switch has tripped, the most likely cause would be water entering an outdoor light fitting. A licensed electrician must be called to resolve this issue.
How to reset a safety switch
A tripping safety switch can be a nuisance but the fix is usually (not always!) fairly straightforward.
Firstly, try to reset the safety switch by flicking it back to the 'on' position. Sometimes the issue is temporary and the safety switch will reset easily.
If the switch does not remain in the 'on' position and trips again, unplug all appliances on the power circuit. Simply turning the appliance off at the powerpoint is not enough. Appliances must be unplugged from the powerpoint. Don't forget the hidden powerpoints like the one behind the fridge, washing machine, or dishwasher, as well as any outdoor appliances which may be plugged in such as your hot water service or rainwater pumps.
Once all appliances have been unplugged from the powerpoint, then turn off all circuit breakers in the main electrical board which are protected by the safety switch that has tripped.
Then try to reset the safety switch once again by flicking it to the 'on' position.
If the safety switch remains in the 'on' position, then turn each circuit breaker to the 'on' position one at a time.
If all circuit breakers are able to be turned back 'on' and the safety switch remains 'on' too, an appliance must be the culprit!
To determine which appliance is at fault, plug your appliances back in one at a time. The safety switch will trip once the faulty appliance has been plugged back in.
Handy Tip: plug a radio into a powerpoint first and then, as you plug each appliance back in, keep an ear out for the radio noise. As soon as it turns off, you know you've found your culprit!
If you turn a circuit breaker 'on' and the safety switch trips, your home wiring or water in a fitting is normally the issue and it's time to contact a licensed electrician.
Click below to download our free process checklist!
We hope you have found this process useful and if we can be of any assistance, please contact us!