13 steps to resolve mcb tripping

An mcb tripping occurs when:

  • A circuit overload is present – like a nail through a wire causing a direct short, or a motor is seized.
  • The rated current of the circuit breaker is not inline with the circuit it is protecting.
  • The breaker is not connected properly or faulty

Step 1. Have you had any work carried out (DIY or professionally) which involved drilling holes in the wall, ceiling or floor? Is it possible a cable has been damaged? This can be tricky to diagnose without further investigation because cables are not always inline with electrical accessories. But if your breaker was on until a hole was drilled; you may have just found the problem!

Having worked for sometime in all areas of Cardiff with other electricians; be warned cables are not always inline with electrical accessories, so beware! If you think you have hit a cable with a drill bit, or nail – keep the circuit breaker switched off.

Step 2. In the event of foul weather; check outdoor lights, sockets and garden equipment for water ingress. Pond pumps and lights are also prone to faults.

Step 3. If the breaker protecting a socket circuit trips; unplug as much as you can from that circuit. So if you know “upstairs sockets” protects all the sockets and boiler – unplug everything you can upstairs and switch the boiler off if connected via a switched fuse spur.  Check for security lights which are sometimes connected via a switched fused spur next to a bedroom socket outlet.

Step 4. If the mcb for any lighting circuits is problematic then remove as many lamps as you can before attempting to reset it. You could also ensure the switches / dimmers are in the off position.

Step 5. Is it possible the breaker is doing its job and there is an overload present? What is the rating of the miniature circuit breaker for the electrical circuit that has just tripped? To trip instantly they need many more times their rated current. I was called out during a cold winter to a home where the boiler had failed.  The customer unplugged the boiler and connected several fan heaters each rated at 10 amps. The circuit breaker was doing its job (protecting the cable from becoming overheated) and tripping in time. Electricians can test how much current appliances are drawing and if an overload is present.

Step 6. When was the last time you had your consumer unit inspected? It’s possible the circuit breaker is faulty or not connected to the electrical circuit properly.  Sometimes they can make a buzzing noise in these situations.

Step 7. Could you have a problem with rodents? I’ve seen circuit breaker trips when rats have been detected. They can chew through cables and sometimes die on the cable in the process. Common in lofts where they can hide inside insulation and outside where they roam around in the dark looking for things to nibble on!

Step 8. Do you have a squeaky floor, or has it just been fixed? If cables haven’t been installed correctly its possible one has got compressed and shorting out internally.

Step 9. Does your cooker work as it should? For suspected oven or hob problems (or any electrical devices connected for that matter); the easiest thing to do is find the isolator.  Switch it to the off position and see if the breaker will switch on.  If it does your cooker maybe faulty.

Step 10. Showers drawer a large amount of current; they heat cold water almost instantly. If faulty, have a loose connection or faulty isolator; it can cause your circuit breaker to blow with a bang! Try turning the shower isolator to the off position and retrying.

Step 11. Electrical cables and accessories are more prone to damage outdoors because of the weather (especially rain driven in by strong wind), damp and garden tools coming in to contact with them.  If your circuit breaker for outdoor lighting or socket outlets supplying items like ponds and waterfalls trips then ensure it stays off until you find the cause. There is more risk of electrocution when outside because you are in contact with the ground which is how electricity returns back to the supply transformer.

Step 12. Do you know if there is a sub-floor? Could water have entered the foundation of your home and come in to contact with a junction box perhaps? Cables below the ground floor of a property can become damaged by water or rats.

Step 13. Intermittent mcb tripping faults are the hardest to find. Sometimes professional electricians are called out but unable to clarify the problem because the fault is not there at the time of test. Make a note of when the breaker trips if you can.  Could it be when the immersion heater switches on by timer for example? As a consumer you can only go so far with this type of electrical fault. You may need help from your local electrician.  Cardiff home and business owners contact me on a regular basis to resolve circuit breaker tripping faults. In some cases the circuit breaker itself can fail and replacing them isn’t a DIY job.

I attended two properties in The Bay recently where the circuit breaker wouldn’t stay on.  After removing the loads from the breaker it still wouldn’t stay in the on position.  After testing the circuits were healthy (no shorts) I replaced it and got the circuits back on for the customer.

If you find yourself in the position where it trips every few hours; it could be a bad connection, load issue or faulty part. Miniature circuit breakers are only a few pounds each, but you would need to add on an electricians call out and troubleshooting time. Usually its one circuit that has a problem, but if two breakers are tripping it could be a more serious problem – like two circuits are interconnected. So if you live in Cardiff and have an mcb tripping problem please get in touch.

Top 5 reasons electricians are called out for MCB Tripping

  • Outside accessories (sockets and lights) damaged due to foul weather
  • Cables buried inside the wall damaged from drill during DIY work
  • Overloaded circuit
  • Faulty washing machine
  • Accessories (usually lights, but sometimes sockets) not fitted correctly after decoration