Summary: RCD tripping is a common electrical issue, tackled through a logical fault find process and if required calling in a qualified professional to carry out fault finding work and ensure safety.

One of the most common and frustrating electrical issues property owners face is the tripping of Residual Current Devices (RCDs). Despite the disruption it causes, it’s essential to recognise that RCDs are life-saving devices designed to keep us safe from electrical hazards. These devices continuously monitor the flow of electricity and promptly cut off power if they detect imbalances, preventing potential electric shocks and fires.

In the following guide, I will delve into the common causes of RCD tripping and outline steps you can take to troubleshoot and resolve these issues effectively.

Assess the situation

Before diving into troubleshooting, take a moment to assess the situation. Consider the following questions, as they may help narrow down the cause of the fault:

  • What were you doing when the RCD tripped?
  • What was the weather like?
  • Is anything plugged in outside?
  • Are external light fittings in good condition
  • Has any work recently been carried out at the property?
  • Are there any leaks?

RCD Tripping – Troubleshooting Steps

If you’re RCD is tripping you can carry out basic troubleshooting yourself by following the subsequent steps to narrow down the issue.

Photo of Julain Varley, an electrician in Harrogate, at work with a trip box
  1. Turn off all the MCBs one by one
  2. Try to reset the RCD – (If it does not reset call an electrician)
  3. Turn on MCBs individually – Turn each of the MCBs on one at a time until the RCD trips again. Make a note which circuit is causing the RCD to trip. Leave the MCB for the faulty circuit off to restore power to the rest of the circuits temporarily. *If an RCBO has tripped skip to step 4. These look like an MCB however they will have a small test button and are typically found in more recent installations*
  4. Unplug all items from the faulty circuit – Be careful not to miss anything – make sure you check for sockets in kitchen cupboards as well as outside. Some appliances can be turned of using grid switches or switched fused spurs which are usually located above countertops. For lighting circuits you can try turning all the switches to the off position.
  5. Attempt to reset the MCB for the faulty circuit – If the RCD has stopped tripping it is very likely one of your appliances is faulty. Plug them back in one at a time to establish which is causing the issue.
  6. Plug in appliances one by one – Plug the appliances back in one at a time, resetting the MCB each time. This will help identify the specific appliance causing the issue. If the RCD trips again after plugging in a particular appliance, it is likely faulty and needs repair or replacement.
  7. Call an electrician if the issue persists – If the RCD continues to trip even after unplugging all appliances, there may be a fault in the wiring. In such cases, it’s best to call a qualified electrician to diagnose and resolve the issue safely. We can be contacted on 07450 946119 or via our Contact Page.
Photo of Julian Varley, an electrician in Harrogate, at work with corroded wires

Intermittent Tripping

Diagnosing intermittent tripping presents additional challenges due to the fault’s sporadic nature. The unpredictability makes pinpointing the exact cause difficult, as it may occur under specific conditions at irregular times. To aid in diagnosis, I suggest maintaining a detailed log of each instance of RCD tripping, noting the circumstances surrounding each occurrence. This record-keeping may help narrow down potential causes.

If the tripping persists and becomes a recurring nuisance, it’s advisable to enlist the expertise of a qualified electrician. They can conduct thorough testing of the wiring to identify any underlying issues. However, it’s important to note that there are no guarantees of finding the fault, particularly if it’s not present during the electrician’s visit. In such cases, multiple visits may be necessary to diagnose and address the problem effectively.

Photo of Julian Varley, an electrician in Harrogate, at work on an istallation

Fault finding costs

Fault finding costs in the industry typically follow an hourly rate structure, primarily due to the numerous unknown factors involved in diagnosing electrical issues. Additionally, there may be an initial charge for the first hour of fault finding, with any necessary repairs incurring additional costs. In cases of emergency or out of-hours work, clients should anticipate higher rates, again attributable to the complexity and urgency of the situation. If you’re in need of fault-finding services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we’re always happy to have chat and help resolve your issues. We can be contacted on 07450 946119 or via our Contact Page.

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