Fuse breaker keeps tripping.

I know this will involve an electrician. But over the last two months the fuse breaker has been tripping out, that is the main one, not any of the individual section ones.
If we're awake, there's a sort of sound of a 'pop' from the kitchen and then it trips out. This can happen when no one is in the kitchen and there is nothing running.
It can also happen in the middle of the night, when pretty much everything is off.
A trip to the garage, flip the switch and everything is okay, no fuses blown on any equipment and they all work fine, once the fuse breaker switch has been flipped back on.
We can go for a couple of weeks without this happening, and think it has sorted itself, but middle of the night, it went again, which is painful, as the alarm clock is mains powered, so it can't wait until the morning.
Any thoughts on what it might be. My main problem is that it is intermittent. All mechanics and electricians I've come across, hate intermittent faults, because they never show up when they're testing.
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On 27/11/2015 10:58, Road_Hog wrote:

It sounds to me a bit like moisture collecting somewhere. What you say about tracing intermittent faults is correct, but in fact this type of fault often shows up straight away on a test with a "Megger". That's a very easy check and I would think any decent sparkie would be happy to run that and a couple of other checks on a "no promises" basis.
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Yes marinated spider moisture collection syndrome. However it does seem odd that it does not happen when people are active in the Kitchen, if indeed this is where the sound comes from, noting the breakers are in the garage.
I assume no rodents are about at the consumer unit or elsewhere nearby? Brian
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On 27/11/2015 10:58, Road_Hog wrote:

> fuse breaker has been tripping out, that is the main one, not any of the > individual section ones.
ELCB presumably seeing a leakage current. Smart money is on the kettle, washing machine or immersion heater.

> it trips out. This can happen when no one is in the kitchen and there is nothing running.
Unplug the kettle completely when not in use and see if it stops.

Unplug everything you can and if that fixes it plug half back in. Repeat until you can narrow the fault to one appliance.

> equipment and they all work fine, once the fuse breaker switch has been flipped back on.

> but middle of the night, it went again, which is painful, as the alarm clock is mains > powered, so it can't wait until the morning.
Battery powered alarm clock?

> All mechanics and electricians I've come across, hate intermittent faults, > because they never show up when they're testing.

Everyone hates intermittent faults. They usually get worse with time but faults in kettles seem to heal for a while with scale then go again.
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On 27/11/2015 11:39, Martin Brown wrote:

A Megger or PAT tester might find the offending appliance.
I have come across, though some time ago though, RCDs that were especially sensitive to transient currents into suppression devices when they were turned on.
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That is unlikely to be the problem here tho given that it happens by itself.
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On Friday, 27 November 2015 12:39:48 UTC+1, Martin Brown wrote:

That raises the question: What is it that's actually tripping? An ELCB/RCD, or a main fuse?
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On 27/11/2015 11:39, Martin Brown wrote:

Also dishwasher and electric cooker.
I agree about unplugging kettle etc overnight, you could also switch off the cooker at the wall.
The sound of a pop from the kitchen is a good pointer and probably eliminates the immersion heater (unless you have an under-sink one).
If it gets more frequent you can also try switching off the kitchen "ring main" overnight (fridge and freezer should survive this time of year).
But I would still be inclined to get an electrician in sooner rather than later. This type of fault is unlikely to start a fire, but it could.
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On 27/11/15 11:58, newshound wrote:

also mouse chewing wires

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Very unlikely given it trips the breaker.
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On 27/11/2015 10:58, Road_Hog wrote:

Are we talking RCD or MCB?
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Road_Hog wrote:

I have seen fridges and freezers do this when they are getting a bit elderly.
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Thanks for the replies. It is the MCB, there are no plug in RCD devices at the house.
I will try the kettle, as when we are about when it happens, there always s eems to be a pop from that direction. If it isn't that, I will get someone in, as from what people have replied, it seems that it would be a fairly si mple task to locate the problem.
Fingers crossed it's just a replacement kettle.
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On 27/11/15 12:52, Road_Hog wrote:

MCB?
What took mine out at 4 a m was the candle bulb I had left on in te cooker overhead light..blowing
Now replaced with LED flavour
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In the first paragraph the OP says it is the main breaker NOT the sub-circu it ones, I take it that means an RCD/ELCB. If he is hearing a pop in the ki tchen it is probably one of those appliances especially one where water is involved. My first suspect would be the kettle with possible water leaking into the socket the lead plugs in, any signs of arcing is a giveaway.
Richard
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On 27/11/2015 14:09, Tricky Dicky wrote:

> I take it that means an RCD/ELCB. If he is hearing a pop in the kitchen it is probably > one of those appliances especially one where water is involved. My first suspect would > be the kettle with possible water leaking into the socket the lead plugs in, any signs > of arcing is a giveaway.
"Where the lead plugs in?"
Aren't almost all modern kettles cordless these days?
I have known buildup of copper vapour on the base cause problems on ones that are frequently picked up hot whilst still drawing 3kW.
Kettle failure is usually corrosion of the heating element which can self heal from limescale and/or electrolysis of the water itself.
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On Fri, 27 Nov 2015 20:52:36 +0000, Martin Brown wrote:

Once saw a kettle that was tripping the RCD due to boiling for about 15s before switching off. It was in a cafe - I'd noticed it through the open doorway to the kitchen. The cafe said it couldn't do hot drinks, I pointed out the problem, another kettle was found and all was well. No, I didn't get free tea - the owner seemed resentful, possibly because of missing the bleeding obvious.
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On Friday, 27 November 2015 12:52:35 UTC, Road_Hog wrote:

t the house.

seems to be a pop from that direction. If it isn't that, I will get someon e in, as from what people have replied, it seems that it would be a fairly simple task to locate the problem.

Random MCB blowing is a bad thing, and a definite fire risk. PAT test or me gger all appliances & test the installation. It's unlikely to be the kettle if its an MCB.
NT
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Road_Hog wrote:

Earlier you said "the fuse breaker has been tripping out, that is the main one, not any of the individual section ones". It would be very unusual to have an MCB covering more than one circuit - are you sure it's an MCB that's tripping? It might help if you can post a picture of your consumer units (all of them if you have more than one) then we can try and work out what's what with it.
Mike
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He's probably got a total load Master RCD. Quite common in the '80s. Regrettably we have one. It would be a major effort to replace it with RCBOs on the relevant circuits.
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