Advice on Power cuts
We do everything we can to ensure that your electricity is reliable, but sometimes power cuts can happen. Here are some tips to help if you don’t have any power.
1. Check with your neighbours
Check if any of your neighbours or the other houses in your street have lost power. If they have, it’s likely that the fault is with the local network. You might notice that the street lights are still on but all the lights in the houses in your street are off, or that only every second or third house has power. This is because once the power leaves the local sub-station, it will sometimes be split across two or three circuits, or “phases”, before it’s delivered to the homes in your street.
- Usually if there’s a fault at the local sub-station, only one of the phases will be affected. That’s why just some homes will lose power.
- If it’s night, then it’s easy to tell if there’s been a power cut as you’ll be able to see if any of your neighbours have lights on.
- If it’s during the day, ask some of your neighbours if they still have power.
- If everyone else has power and you’re home doesn’t, it’s likely to be an issue with your fuses or trip switches. If your fuses and trip switches are ok, then you could have an internal wiring or appliance fault.
2. Check your fuses and trip switches
Check your trip switches or fuses to see if these have cut your power. If they’ve tripped or blown, it’s likely that you have a faulty appliance or problems with your wiring.
How to check your trip switches and fuses
- First check that you have a trip switch. It is also known as a RCD (residual current device) or an ELCB (earth leakage circuit breaker). This will be on or near the fuse box.
- If you are not sure, have a look at the fuse box. The fuse box will be no further than three meters away from your electricity meter. If you have a trip switch, you will be able to see a ‘push to test’ button, bar, or a ‘reset’ button.
- Please note that not all properties have a trip switch.
If the trip switch is on:
- Turn the trip switch off and back on again. At times this safety feature may have been triggered without the switch physically moving, if this is the case this may reset it.
- If the supply is not restored, push the ‘test’ button. If the switch trips, you have a problem with your wiring or appliance. This is because the ‘push to test’ button can only trip the switch if your local network operator’s supply is healthy. The trip will now be in the ‘off’ position.
- If the trip switch is on and the ‘push to test’ button does not trip the switch, then there is no incoming supply.
If the trip switch is off:
- Try to switch it back on. If it stays on but the supply is still off, check you have not turned off the main switch on the fuse box.
- If the trip switch trips immediately you have a fault with your wiring, an appliance or the fuse box.
If you have a separate fuse box and trip switch, turn the fuse box off and turn the trip switch back on. The trip should then stay on.
- If the trip switches to the ‘off’ position again then you have a fault with the fuse box or the trip switch itself.
3. Check your appliances
If you think you have a fault with your appliances, fuse box or wiring you’ll need a qualified electrician and shouldn’t try to repair it yourself. How to isolate a fault with your wiring or an appliance
- Near your meter will be your fuse box. This’ll contain either Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs, these are generally up/down flip switches) or pull out re-wirable fuses. You may also have a main trip switch, this’ll have a ‘push to test’ or a ‘reset’ button.
- With the main trip on (resetting it if need be) and your main power turned off, flip all of the individual switches off/pull out all of the fuses. Check to see if any of the fuses are obviously damaged.
- Then without turning the power back on flip ONE switch back into the on position/replace a single fuse, afterwards turn the power back on.
- If the power works and the main trip switch doesn’t switch off, then switch off your power again and repeat the process, ONE switch/fuse at a time.
- Eventually the faulty circuit will cause the main trip to operate, when this happens switch the power back off and reset the main trip switch. Turn the last flip switch back to off/remove the fuse again.
- Then flip all your other circuit switches back on/replace all the other fuses. Turn the power on once more and they if there is only one fault the power should stay on.
- Turning the power off again, you need to unplug everything that runs on the faulty circuit. Once done, try flipping the switch/replacing the fuse and turning the power back on. If the main trip goes again and there is nothing plugged in then there’s probably a problem with the wiring and you’ll need an electrician.
- If the power remains on and the main trip does not go, then one or more of the appliances you have removed is faulty.
- Turn off the power again and plug in and switch on ONE appliance before switching the main power back on. Repeat this until the main trip switch goes. When this happens the last thing you plugged in should be removed before testing again. If the power stays on you have found your faulty appliance.
If you have found a fault with your wiring, an appliance or your fuse box, it is always best to use a qualified electrician rather than try to repair the fault yourself. Phone LECO for advice.
4. Make a phone call
If you’ve checked your fuses or trip switches and your appliances and wiring are not faulty, you should report the power cut. Check hear on power interruption details
- Keep a torch with fresh batteries in a place where you can reach it easily.
- Turn off your electrical appliances and lights, but leave one light switched on so you know when the power is back on.
- Be careful if you use other forms of heating and lighting, such as paraffin heaters and candles.
- Remember that the doorbell will probably not work (unless it runs on batteries), nor will an alarm system (unless it has a battery back-up).
- If we have warned you that the electricity will be turned off, boil some water and keep it in a thermos flask. You can use it to make hot drinks or fill a hot water bottle if it gets too cold.
- When your supply is back on, you may need to reset electric timers, alarm clocks and so on.
- Food in the freezer should keep for about eight hours without power. Do not open the freezer doors unless you have to. Check the food when the power is back on to make sure it has not thawed. If it has, do not refreeze it. You may be able to claim on your household contents insurance for any lost food. Check your policy to make sure.