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How to detect and fix household electrical problems

Some household electrical faults are easy to detect, while others require expert help. In this article you will learn how to locate and repair some of the most common ones.

One day,the power goes out or an appliance stops working, but you don’t know why. Household electrical faults are annoying, and they happen to everyone from time to time. That is why we invest in insurance.

In the same way that pipes can get blocked with limescale and damp appears on walls, electrical faults are a fact of life. Particularly in older homes.

How to find out if the problem is inside or outside the house What happens if a switch on the electrical panel has tripped but you don't know why? Let's look at the different scenarios and what to do.

One appliance stops working, but everything else is all right.

Sometimes, light bulbs just stop working for no reason... particularly the older types. Although this might seem like a 20th-century problem, it can actually happen to any electrical appliance, lamps, etc. First of all, you need to find out if it is a problem with the appliance itself or there is something wrong with the power supply in the home.

Follow these steps:

  1. Go to your electrical panel and check that the switch is up. It may have tripped because of a power surge. Has it tripped? See the point 'Some switches on the electrical panel trip frequently'.
  2. Unplug the appliance that has stopped working and connect a lamp.
    1. If the lamp lights up, then the problem is with the device.
    2. If the lamp does not light up, then the problem is with the plug, which needs to be replaced.

A wall socket doesn't work, even if the socket is changed

Sometimes the same thing keeps happening, even when you have changed the socket and checked the electrical panel. In this case, it is most likely there is probably an issue with the wiring. For example, a thinner section, a contact or a ground wire may be stopping enough power from reaching the socket.

In this case, the first thing to do is replace the wiring from the socket to the nearest distribution box. And, if the problem persists, repeat this process until you reach the general panel. However, the latter course of action will be unlikely, because other sockets have not been a problem.

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Some switches on the electrical panel keep tripping

Inside the electrical panel there are several switches that protect people and equipment from over voltages. They are also designed to prevent us from using too much electricity at the same time. They are called ICP, IGA, PCS, ID and PIA, although you don't need to know what they are called to be able to detect a fault. What you do have to do is identify which switch is tripping.

The ICP, if there is one, is the switch that is furthest to the left of the board, it is generally set aside from the other switches. It usually trips because you have exceeded your contracted power. You may have plugged too many things in at the same time. In this case, you need to be careful and, if necessary, increase your contracted power.

IGA and PCS are there to prevent system overloads. They are like PIAs, but instead of reading C10 A or C16 A, the number is much higher. For example, C40 A or C60 A. If these trip, the surge probably came from outside the building. How is this dealt with? The wiring in the building may be defective. You will need to tell the building managers.

The ID is usually on the left and you can recognise it because it has a button. If this switch has tripped, the problem is most probably in the electrical panel itself. Again, it is better to call in an expert. It is never a good idea to tamper with the electrical panel unless you are an expert.

PIAs are small switches that withstand 'low' amperage. They are labelled with text such as C10A or C16A. If these trip, you are in luck, because you will able to work out which appliance is causing the problem. In homes, each PIA is usually connected to a system: dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator, etc.

 

The electricity in the house cuts out, even when there is nothing plugged in.

Sometimes, the electricity goes off but when you check the electrical panel, all the switches are in the right position. This situation is very rare and may be caused by a power cut or a failure in the wiring in the home. The first thing to do is ask your neighbours if they have electricity. Are they experiencing the same problem.

If your neighbours have power, then the issue is probably to do with your meter or something nearby. That’s why we are experiencing a cut and they are not. In any case, you need to call an electrician to the building. This person will be able to find the fault.

If your neighbours do not have electricity either, and everything seems normal in the building's general electrical panel, it is possible that the power cut is affecting the entire area. Sometimes the power cut may have been caused by human error, cutting though a cable during building work. In this case, you have no option but to wait for the power to come on again.

Detecting a fault giving rise to an unreasonably large bill

Illegal hookups are even less common than power cuts. But they do happen. This kind of ‘fault’ is revealed by checking your electricity bill. If your bill is higher than you might expect, this could be due to an illegal hookup, or perhaps other problems such as ground derivations or a meter reading error. In this case it is best to contact the company.

Comparison of Electricity and Gas Tariffs

You don't need to adapt to Endesa's tariffs because they adapt to you. If you go to our catalogue you can compare the different tariffs for yourself. Or if you prefer, you can answer a few questions about your consumption habits and we will take care of comparing all the different electricity and gas tariffs and then make a customised recommendation.

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