An electrical leak is when electricity is flowing to or from an appliance in your home when it shouldn’t be. It can occur when electrical equipment is on or off, and is not always something that the circuit breakers will pick up on.
There are a number of reasons why this may be happening. Common causes include malfunctioning appliances (damaged or old wiring greatly increases the chances of a leak), bad connections or a short circuit. In all these situations, the leak will occur as the current flows from the wires it should be flowing through, to wiring or components that it shouldn’t be.
These leaks can be very dangerous. Some components and electrical wiring are only rated for certain amounts of electricity, and the threat of an electrical fire, electric shock and damage to appliances are all possibilities while current leakage is occurring. Furthermore, there are also financial repercussions of excess electricity usage.
You can identify an electrical leak through a process involving your electricity meter. It should be in the same place as the main switch. First, unplug all electrical devices in the house and turn off all the light switches. You will also need to shut off the power to the areas of the house using the circuit breakers on the switchboard.
Once you’ve done this, check the electricity meter. If the meter isn’t moving, it still doesn’t mean there isn’t a leak, but it’s a good sign. If it is moving, then you have a leak and need to call a licensed electrician immediately.
You will then need to switch a breaker on and see if the meter starts moving. With everything unplugged, it shouldn’t, and if it is you have an electrical leak. Do this for each breaker, as this will also tell you which circuit a leak is in.
However, if you have a digital meter, you will need to do this process a little differently. Instead of observing to see if it is moving, you will have to take a reading after unplugging everything and then wait before taking a second reading and comparing the two.
In addition to this lengthy procedure, there are also some telltale signs of current leakage that can be observed around the house and can act as a first warning.
Power cuts occur when the residual current device (RCD) detects unusual electrical activity in your house. The safety switch cuts off the electricity supply to prevent the possibility of harmful electrical shocks. If these power outages happen often and for seemingly no reason, it may be a sign that there is a potentially harmful leakage occurring somewhere in your home.
All houses in Western Australia are mandated to have at least two residual current devices installed. However, if yours are damaged or missing, call a licensed electrician immediately.
Because of the nature of leakage, electricity will be flowing to places where it shouldn’t be. Because of this you may experience electrical shocks when touching a device that leaks. These shocks might not be fatal, but they are far from benign. These leaks won’t be identified by the circuit breakers because the breakers are designed to protect the circuits against excess current.
In order to protect yourself from electric shocks from leaking devices, and most other types of electrical malfunctions, you will need an electrical safety switch installed on the circuit. These turn off the power if they detect any current leakage. If you don’t have them in your home, speak to your electrician today about having some installed.
Leakage will always involve more electricity being used than there should be. Your electricity bills will tell you your usage for the period in addition to the cost to you. You can use this to help determine if there is a leak by comparing them. If one of them is much higher than a previous one from the same period it is likely an indicator of an electrical leak.
Electrical wiring heats up as current flows through it. Most wires are insulated by a protective sheath that stops the transfer of heat or current to other components or wires. However, if this sheath is damaged and there is a leak, the heat will escape into the house.
Electrical safety is always very important, and you shouldn’t wait until there is a problem to address it. There are a number of things you can do to be proactive about preventing a leak.
1) Be aware of the telltale signs listed above and be on the lookout for them.
2) Do not settle for the bare minimum of protection. Your local electrician can install additional electrical safety switches for all your circuits if you don’t have them already.
3) Inspect your residual current device, earth leakage protection device and circuit breakers regularly for damage.
4) Purchase new appliances when old ones get damaged or worn out.
5) Have a licensed electrician periodically check your electricity system.
As with most electrical work, it isn’t a good idea to attempt repairs yourself. It is far safer to call your local residential electrician, who can confirm the leak and make repairs if necessary.
So if you suspect you have an electrical leak, or have any other electrical repairs in Perth that need doing, give Prime Time Electricians a call on 1300 356 200. Our friendly and experienced service people can identify and resolve any issues you may have with your electrical system.