Domestic electrical fault-finding

Keeping the Lights on
It should go without saying that the best person for electrical fault finding is a licensed electrician. When it comes to pinpointing the source of an electrical problem, nothing beats experience and the right diagnostic equipment. Let’s face it, you’re not likely to have a digital volt-ohm meter handy and you don’t spend your days with wiring. That said, there are some basic fault finding techniques that you can use to discover what your problem might be and save you the hassle of getting an electrician in.

Beat the Blackout
At some time or other we all have to confront the problem of an electrical circuit suddenly going off. You know the problem is confined to one circuit because the lights or a digital clock stay on in another room. So what do you do? You don’t always know which powerpoints belong to what circuit, but the first thing to do is unplug all likely appliances. Don’t discount the fridge or freezer just because they are awkward to unplug. Then you venture out to the fusebox. It should be obvious from the position of the switches which one has tripped and shut off. If you’re happy that everything on that circuit is unplugged, simply switch it back on. It should stay on. If it doesn’t, and you are quite sure that no appliance is still on the circuit that you can remove, then you have an issue for an electrician to resolve. But nine times out of ten the switch should stay on.

Opportunity Shocks
That’s because most short circuits are caused by faulty appliances. The most likely culprits are electric kettles and frypans, but it could just as easily be the iron or the toaster. One by one, plug them back in and switch them on. The faulty appliance will trip the system again and you’ll know which one is the cause. The offending appliance should be disposed of. It’s just not worth it these days to try to get it fixed. Donating it to a charity shop is also clearly an uncharitable act. There may be people who can fix it, but they don’t trawl op shops looking for projects and charity shops on the Gold Coast won’t sell broken appliances anyway.

Do it Right
There is little value in determining that your electrical problem is down to a faulty earth connection or a loose connection somewhere on the circuit. That is because you really need a licensed electrician to make an accurate diagnosis and properly resolve the issue so that it is not an electrocution hazard. Don’t forget that electricity is dangerous and the cause of many a house fire. It’s foolish to risk disaster for the sake of saving a few dollars. Leave wiring issues to the professionals.