Electrical safety

Content owner : housing@knh.org.uk Last updated : 05/03/11

Electrical tips

When you move into your new home, make sure that you know where the mains switch is, and how to turn off the electricity in an emergency. The mains switch is usually found in a cupboard along with the meter and fuse box or circuit breaker.

Tips for electrical safety :

  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Use the correct fuses in plugs
  • Do not use any faulty switch or socket
  • Do not touch exposed wires
  • Do not touch wet fittings
  • Don't overload sockets. Avoid double adapters – use only one appliance at a time in a socket

When the power goes off

The electricity in your home can go off for a variety of reasons. It may be because of an electrical fault in your property, a supply problem in the area, or because it has been cut off.

Resetting the ‘trip switch’ in the consumer unit

First of all, locate your consumer unit (fuseboard) and check whether the residual current device (RCD) and/or a circuit-breaker has 'tripped' (turned off).

An RCD is a switching device that trips a circuit under certain fault conditions, and disconnects the electricity supply. Circuit-breakers are automatic protection devices fitted in the consumer unit which switch off a circuit if there is a fault.

If the lights are not working, a lighting circuit-breaker may have tripped due to a bulb blowing. You will need to reset the circuit-breaker by switching it back on, the lights should now work. If they do not come back on, you will need to contact an electrician.

If it is your sockets that are not working, a circuit-breaker and/or the RCD may have tripped due to a faulty appliance being plugged in. You will not be able to reset either of the devices until the faulty item has been unplugged from the circuit. If you are not sure which appliance has caused the problem, unplug all appliances, reset the circuit breaker and/or RCD by switching it back on. Plug each appliance back in, one by one, until the faulty item (which trips the circuit) is found.

If you cannot reset the circuit breaker and/or RCD even with all the appliances disconnected, call a qualified electrician.

For large appliances that are wired into a circuit such as a cooker or immersion heater, check whether the circuit breaker has tripped and try to reset it. If this does not work, call KNH on 01484 414800.

Power cuts

If the residual current device and/or circuit breaker has not been tripped, there may be a power cut in your area. Your local electricity network operator or supplier should be able to tell you if a power cut has occurred and, if so, how long it's likely to last.

If there has been a power cut, switch off and unplug any expensive electrical items such as your hi-fi, TV and computer - this will prevent them getting damaged when the power returns. If you need to use candles for light, never leave them unattended.

You may be able to claim compensation from your supplier if:

  • the power cut lasts for more than 18 hours, or
  • in one year, you have more than four power cuts of at least three hours each, or
  • you suffer particular hardship as a result of a power cut.

Disconnection for works

Your supplier may occasionally need to disconnect your electricity supply in order to carry out essential works.

You should be given written notice of this in advance. If you particularly need power in your home (for example, if you are elderly or have a medical condition) get in touch with your supplier. They should be able to help you arrange an alternative energy supply (for example, from a generator) while the repairs are being carried out.