Electrical Advice Please

My problem is this - My iron trips the circuit breaker on the power side of the House fuse board. This is a relatively new iron definitely less than 6 months old. We purchased the new iron because the old iron was doing the same thing. Until this week I suspected that the problem was linked to the wall socket, but 2 days ago the same thing happened while the iron was plugged in to a socket in a different room.
My question is this - should I suspect that the new iron had developed a short, or is the problem more likely to be related to the house power circuits.
The new iron is a different make from the old one so its unlikely to be a design fault in the iron.
Many thanks for reading this far.
Phil
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 15 Jan 2004, Philip wrote:

What is the nominal rating (amps) of the circuit breaker in question? Does the circuit breaker incorporate an RCD? Does it trip when other high-load appliances are used e.g. electric heater?
--
Alistair Riddell - BOFH
Microsoft - because god hates us
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Which "circuit breaker" do you mean? Is it a circuit breaker just for the single circuit with your sockets in it - one of say 6-10 similar-looking a-bit-like-a-switch things in your consumer unit, marked (at a plausible guess) "32A"? Or is it a wider breaker with a "test" button on it as well, whose markings include "30mA" and maybe "80A" or "63A" which cuts power to a number of circuits? Let us know: the former suggests an overloaded or faulty single circuit, the latter a problem - or possibly a combination of little 'problems' - with leakage to earth. Let us know, too, how soon after plugging in the iron this happens - immediately? after a few seconds or minutes? What happens if you plug the iron in on a different circuit, e.g. the upstairs sockets (assuming they are on a separate circuit)?
Stefek
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote in message wrote:

My consumer unit has two sections lighting to the left, power to the right. There are 3 or 4 lighting circuits and as you guessed 6 - 10 power circuits. To the right of the power circuits is a switch which disables all the power circuits in one go.
It is that switch which trips and not the individual circuit breaker. Consequently I loose power all over the house.
The lighting is not affected though.
The problem with this problem is that it is not repeatable at will. Having reset the power we can resume ironing and the problem does not recur maybe for days or weeks. But there is definately a problem somewhere, and it always occurs when the iron is in use.
As a side issue the utility room contains a Washing Machine and Tumble Drier, and in the past the conbination of these two in operation at the same time has caused the power to be lost - but NOT house wide. When they trip out it is only the circuit that goes ie one of the 6-10 little switches on the consumer unit.
I hope that helps
Phil
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That's a 'split load' CU. The circuits don't actually *have* to be split with only 'lighting' on non-RCD protected section on the left. I'd really expect the immersion heater (if you have one) and cooker circuit (if you have one) to be on this section too.

It's the RCD tripping when it sees too much leakage to earth, it suggests that the element in your iron is a bit marginal as regards insulation or that there is a loose wire in it somewhere that is occasionally touching something.
It could also be that the sum of leakage from other appliances around the house (computers and cookers are front runners on this front) is enough so that when the additional leakage of the iron is added the RCD trips.

Well that's one good thing, you're not plunged into darkness when it happens.

There are a number of possible causes/cures:-
1 The iron really is faulty, i.e. the element's insulation is poor or there's a loose wire. It could be within specification and still cause the problem. Replacing the iron would probably fix it. (But see 2 below)
2 The sum of leakages from many appliances is adding up to trip the RCD, the iron is just the final increment. Removing some of the appliances which are likely to be leaky from the RCD side of the CU might help. For example moving immersion heater and cooker to the non-RCD side of the CU is quite allowable regulations wise and may fix the problem. However it's quite a significant thing to change for only a chance of fixing the problem. It depends on the CU how easy it would be to do.
3 If 2 is the case then another approach is to add separate RCD protected circuits for each (or some) of the circuits currently protected by the one RCD. You can get RCBOs (combined RCD & MCB) to go in some CUs, moving some circuits to the LHS of your CU and protecting with RCBOs would probably fix your problem. This is a relatively expensive cure though, but it does make your installation much more user friendly.
4 The RCD may have got hyper sensitive and or may be at the sensitive end of the allowable range. The only way to check is to replace it really (though an electrician should have proper test equipment to check it), fairly expensive again.

That's simply too much load tripping the MCB. It suggests that maybe some rewiring and/or redistibution of load would be a good idea.
--
Chris Green

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In uk.d-i-y, snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

On the last point - it's not *that* expensive in my slightly dated experience: 50quid 5 years back got me a wiring inspection by a very competent local electrician, who spend time with his RCD-tester tracking down the reason for nuisance tripping (combination of cooker elements + computers, as I'd suspected, along with an RCD right on the lower limit of sensitivity: a "30mA" nominal out-of-balance trip rating means the RCD must *not* trip at below half the rating, 15mA, and *must* trip at-or-below the rating within something like 40ms; mine was tripping at about 14mA.)
On the information you've now given, it does sound as if your installation could benefit from a better allocation of circuits between the RCD and non-RCD side, if not a dedicated RCBO or two. The immersion heater and cooker circuits are prime candidates for moving to the non-RCD side, as would be upstairs sockets (only likely to help with your nuisance trips if you have interference-suppressed loads up there, such as computers). The kitchen ring, if you have one that's separate from other downstairs sockets, is also a fair candidate for non-RCD operation, but there's some conflict between wanting to avoid nuisance trips from wash-mosh/dosh-wish, versus the possibility that someone might run outdoor things from a kitchen socket, and (back the other way) the loss of freezer/fridge contents if the trip goes while you're away for two weeks ;-) One reasonable resolution of the conflict is an RCBO dedicated to the kitchen circuit - this combines the RCD and MCB functions in one unit, and allows the "full" somewhere-between-15-and-30mA leakage "allowance" for just that circuit, rather than across all the things on the RCD side of the CU. Costs of RCBOs are falling - even a couple of years ago they ran at about 50quid retail, now it's closer to 30-35; if a Regs tweak encourages their wider use expect to see prices fall further.
Swapping circuits between the two sides can go from trivial to pain-in-the-bum, depending on whether there's enough slack in the cables reaching the relevant positions, and whether the CU has room for repositioned MCBs and RCBOs (which from most manufacturers take up two positions in the CU). If you feel it's beyond you, I'm sure an electrician can be found who'll do suitable Magick, at the possible cost of encouraging you to upgrade the whole of the installation to latest Regs standard. You might get a decent deal if you combine the 'can you tell me what's going wrong' with the 'can you sort it out then' aspects ;-)
HTH - Stefek
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

side of

It wouldn't be a Tefal iron by any chance, would it? Ours used to do the same. I believe it was steam condensing in the connection box and taking out the RCD. In the end we got a new iron!
--
Bob Mannix
(anti-spam is as easy as 1-2-3 - not)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Our's have always done that, on different circuits with different irons. Nothing else does it, at any time. As I can't find a fault on the wiring I've put it down to water and electric in an iron not been a good idea. It is also worth pointing out that it isn't exactly a quality CU thats been fitted, (it was here when we moved in), GE or Vynckier, never liked those things. Some of the higher quality RCD's have anti nuisance tripping characteristics and can make a difference. Obviously it would wise to check the wiring first to eliminate any other causes.

Check the rating of the MCB that trips in this event, it sounds as though it is under-rated. Ideally You want a 32A circuit to the WM & TD, if yours is on a 16A or 20A you may need to have a new circuit installed, or use the appliances seperately!
SJW A.C.S. Ltd.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

of
<snip>
<snip>
When I first commissioned my sauna and spa, the RCD was forever tripping. The manual said this was expected for the first few hours of use as the heating elements (and there are lots of them) were new and could have absorbed moisture. Somehow (perhaps someone could explain?) this trips the RCD. After about a dozen resets all settled down as the manual said it would. If its a new iron could this also be the case?
Tony
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Your sauna heating elements have a heating wire, surrounded by mineral insulation, with an earthed metal sheath around that. If the insulation has absorbed a bit of moisture, it (to be anal about it: various ion species now in solution and therefore unexpectedly mobile) will conduct a small proportion of the electrickery - which would otherwise flow only from live to neutral - from the heating wire to the earthed metal sheath. Because the sheath is earthed, it's not dangerous to you, since the sheath is kept at the same potential (a) as any other bits of metal in the sauna - that's what your Supplementary Bonding is doing for you, and (b) as the general mass of your surroundings. But the RCD is saying "hmm, there's a bit more current going down the live wire than wot's coming back up the neutral; don't like that; is it still going on? yup? ah well, time to trip then". As the mineral insulation dries out from the heating, it stops being nearly so conductive, and your RCD goes back to a state of wariness rather than at action stations.
Although an iron *might* leak to earth a little more when first used than after a while, I'd'a thunk it'd settle down much sooner than the 6 months our original poster reports (unless in their household they have a few-times-a-year ironing binge... like us ;-) It sounded more like the OP had pre-existing leaks-to-earth which put their RCD right on the edge of popping already.
Stefek
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

tripping.
the
Ta for such a complete answer. I must admit to having some concerns when it first happened and nearly sent the heater back, but the manual was most definite it would happen and I was just being impatient. Never read anything similar on any other electrical goods.
I must admit to not even owning an iron :-)
Tony
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

the
trips
it
<sip>
than
months
OP
it
Well, when you can hang your shirts and linen suits up in the sauna, why would you want one??? :-)
-- Richard Sampson
email me at richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

of
6
the
We had the same problem with our tumble drier - it turned out the RCD (20 years old) was defective, and was tripping when a high current was taken (It was rated at 100A/30mA, but was tripping at well below that)
If you can isolate the whole CO (If you have an isolator in between your CU and your meter) then it is possible to change this yourself - however, if you have any doubts to your ability in doing this, then it is time to call an electrician!
If you go down the electrician route, make sure they have an RCD tester, that way the can check it is actually faulty!
Sparks...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.