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⚡️💥What do I do if my power fails?⚡️💥

We have had a few calls lately from customers whose power has failed. Whilst we are always more than happy to help people out over the phone and talk them through any issues, we felt that it may be helpful to have a written guide too. So, this week’s Tool Tip Thursday focuses on what to do if your power fails.

So, you are sat at home, relaxing and watching a bit of tv, when suddenly the power goes out! Ok, don’t panic! Just follow these easy steps and it could save you the cost of an electricians call out.

What to do?

1. Check if you have lost power to the whole house or just part of the house

2. If power is out to your full house then Check vectors website https://www.vector.co.nz/personal/outages – here you can check for an outage with your address and you can report an outage too. Failing that give them a call: 0508 832 867. Vector will come out and fix the issue if the fault is on their side, or will advise that you need to contact an electrician.

3. If power is out to the street then don’t forget to check on your neighbours, especially those that are elderly or vulnerable.

So, you’ve checked and the power is only out to part of your house, there are a few things you can look at yourself before calling an electrician.

Modern switchboard- with RCD protection

If your house is modern or you have had a switchboard upgrade, then check your RCD’s (see attached picture). If your RCD is down, it means its off. Simply flick it back on, if it stays on then the likely issue was just nuisance tripping. It is worth keeping a log should it happen again. If it trips straight back off then turn off the corresponding circuit breakers (see attached picture). Now switch your RCD back on. Your RCD should now stay on. Switch the circuit breakers back on, one by one until you have found the tripping circuit (the one that causes your RCD to turn back off).

Possible causes of a tripping circuit are:
• A Faulty appliance
• Damaged cabling
• Water in accessories e.g. in lights, power points or switches

If you find that your power circuit is tripping, unplug all appliances, turn your circuit breaker and RCD back on, and then plug in and switch on all appliances one by one to find the culprit.

To test if it is your lights causing the issue, again turn them all off, reset your circuit breaker and RCD then turn all the lights back on one by one to find the issue.

If the RCD trips straight off without any power or lighting circuits on, then the problem is most likely to be with a cable or a faulty RCD. If this is the case you will need to call an electrician.

Old Switchboard – No RCD protection

If you live in an older house the chances are likely that you don’t have RCD’s installed. A possible cause of power failure in a house without RCD’s is that it is tripping on overload or short circuit.

To find if there’s an overloaded circuit; turn off all appliances and unplug everything from the power points. Turn the circuit breaker back on, if the circuit stays on for a short while with all the appliances in use and then trips again, this is likely to have been caused by an overloaded circuit. The most likely place to trip on overload is the kitchen, where you have and use multiple appliances at the same time. You may also find this problem is more common in winter when you are running heaters alongside your usual appliances. This is a frequent problem in older properties, where cable sizes are often smaller and fused at lower amps. If you find you have an overloaded circuit, it would be a good idea to call an electrician to install extra power circuits for you.

However, if the circuit breaker trips instantly (without any appliances connected) it is likely you have an issue with your wiring and you will need to call an electrician.

If your property has rewireable fuses, head over to our YouTube Channel where Joe will show you a quick “how to” video on rewiring a fuse.

If you have an old switchboard, without RCD’s it is highly advisable to consider upgrading for the following reasons:
• It is not a quick fix when something goes wrong
• It can potentially cause fires
• RCD’s in fault condition operate within 0.4 s VS a traditional circuit breaker which can take much longer to trip at 5 secs (So much higher risk of electric shock!)
• RCD’s can also protect your appliances from failing completely.
• Just like anything electrical installations deteriorate over time it is just like your car, it needs servicing to ensure it remains safe and functioning.
• It is easier and less costly to service than it is to fix after an issue.

Thank you for reading, What to do if my power fails. We hope this post gives you some helpful advice. Don’t forget to check back next week for further insight into why updating your switchboard is so important and also head over to our YouTube channel for some yarns with Joe!

Kimberly Kelly

Author Kimberly Kelly

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