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Electrical Woes

I knew I had electrical issues in the extension when my washing machine and tumble dryer tripped off in the middle of a cycle, and wouldn’t come back on again, even when I reset the trip-switch in the consumer unit. But it turned out to be more widespread than just one pair of sockets being out of action. The following day, I went to get something out of the freezer in the garage, and found that it was quietly defrosting itself. That socket was dead too. Further investigation showed that all the sockets in the extension were dead, barring, somewhat oddly, two double sockets in the study which power the computer and peripherals. Because those had been working fine, I hadn’t thought to check on all the others.

I’ve managed to get by for the past couple of weeks by running very long extension cables from the kitchen out into the garage and across the kitchen floor to power the critical appliances. But that was at best a temporary solution, not to mention something of a trip hazard. Clearly, something needed to be done, and it was outside my limited knowledge of DIY and electrical power distribution.

I had trouble getting hold of my usual electrician – it turns out he’s semi-retired now. However, once I finally managed to speak to him, he agreed to come over here mid-week to have a look and diagnose the problem. He said that if it was relatively minor, he’d be able to fix it himself. If it was a serious problem that needed substantial work, then he would need his tools and that might take longer to arrange, as his son was gradually taking over the business and had taken ownership of his van and most of the equipment.

It turned out that the trip-switch in the consumer unit was faulty, and wasn’t resetting correctly once tripped. So the entire ring-main had failed safe, i.e. off. The computer stuff in the study is powered from a separate ring-main, which only supplies those two sockets – I think that must have been something Christopher agreed with the architect when we had the extension built, as he was in charge of planning the wiring layout, not me. Fortunately, the problem was fairly simply and easily fixed – the electrician simply had to source a new trip switch and replace it. That did mean powering off the electrics for the duration, so was well beyond my comfort zone, but it wasn’t a big job for a professional.

Phew! Everything is working again, though I still don’t know why it tripped in the first place. It’s not the first time it’s done it either. But since it turned out to be a faulty part, I’m just going to put it down as “one of those things…..”