Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Get to know your electrics

Your property will have some of the following

Main Switch
The main switch in the consumer unit (fuse box) allows you to turn off the supply to your electrical installation. Some electrical installations have more than one main switch. For example, if your home is heated by electric storage heaters, you may have a separate consumer unit for them. The consumer unit should be easy to get to, so find out where the main switch is to turn the electricity off in an emergency.

Older homes often have re-wireable fuses which automatically disconnect the circuit to prevent danger. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse wire, it will become hot, and melt when the current goes above a safe level. The melted fuse breaks the faulty circuit so protecting it against overloading

Newer homes are likely to have circuit-breakers in the consumer unit which switch off a circuit if there is a fault. Circuit-breakers are similar in size to fuse-holders, but give more precise protection than fuses. When they 'trip', you can simply reset the switch. However, you first need to find and correct the fault.

Residual current devices (RCD)
An RCD is a life-saving device which is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. It provides a level of protection that ordinary fuses or circuit breakers cannot.

Under the UK safety standard, almost all sockets in new electrical installations and any new sockets added to an existing installation must have RCD protection

If your electrical installation includes one or more RCDs, you should check that they are working properly by pushing the test button every three months. When you test the RCD it should switch off the power to the areas of the home it protects.

If when you press the test button, your RCD does not switch off the electricity supply to the protected circuits, or if the button does not reset, get advice from a registered electrician.

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