What is a residual current device (RCD)?
It’s a safety device that automatically switches off the electricity if there is a fault. It’s far more sensitive than normal fuses and circuit breakers. It can be a lifesaver, reacting quickly to prevent electricity causing a fatal shock.
An RCD constantly monitors the electric current flowing along a circuit.
If it detects electricity flowing down an unintended path, such as through a person who has touched a live part, it will switch the circuit off instantly, reducing the risk of death or serious injury.
RCDs can help protect you from electric shock in potentially dangerous areas such as bathrooms and gardens. Using electricity when you maybe wet significantly increases the risk of electric shock. If you are wet and make contact with the ground, it’s easy for electricity to flow through you.
So it’s very important to have RCD protection when using electrical equipment in these areas. If you don’t, a job like mowing the lawn could turn into a deadly disaster should you cut the lead.
RCDs are available as fixed, socket or portable.
Fixed RCDs – are installed into the fusebox and can provide protection to
Individual or groups of circuits. A fixed RCD provides the highest level of protection. It protects all sockets and connected appliances on any circuit.
Socket RCDs –
These replace a standard socket. They provide protection to anyone plugging electrical equipment into that socket.
Portable RCDs –
These plug into any standard socket. An appliance can then be plugged into the RCD. These are useful when fixed or socket RCDs are not available. But again they only provide protection to the person plugging electrical equipment into the socket.
Are RCDs reliable?
We’ve found that fixed RCDs are about 97% reliable. This improves if they
are tested regularly. If you have fixed RCD protection, it will reduce the risk
of electric shock to you and your family. It can also protect your home against the risk of fire caused by faulty wiring or appliances.
Remember – Although RCD protection reduces the risk of death or injury from electric shock it does not reduce the need to be careful.
To ensure the safety of you, your family and your home. If you find a fault with your wiring or an appliance, stop using it immediately and contact a registered electrician.
Don’t forget to test –
You should test all fixed and socket RCDs every 6 months. Manufacturers recommend that portable RCDs are tested every time you use them.
A good tip is to test them regularly, like when putting your clocks forward, or back. Especially as many electric clocks and timers have to be reset anyway.
Beware – If you hold the test button in for a long time and the RCD does not switch off the electricity supply, then get advice from a registered electrician.
The new UK standard for safety –
Since July 2008 virtually all circuits in new or rewired homes have been required to include an RCD under the latest edition of BS 7671.
Many older AC type RCD’s no longer work properly if at all, with the proliferation of modern equipment it only takes 6 ma of DC current to saturate the coil and stop your type AC RCD from working, and makeing your installation unsafe.
Only a competent person with the correct type of testing equipment can find out what’s in your home please make sure your systems are safe, it is up to you to get your homes inspected failure to have a test certificate normally invalidates your Insurance.
But you must press the test switch on it every 6 months to check if its working under the 18th Edition of BS 7671.
Have your wiring checked at least once every 10 years in domestic premises that you own, but it’s every 5 years in a rental property and as of the 1st of July 2020 it will be a legal requirement.
For further information or to have us arrange a visit to inspect
your electrical system call: –
01487-813-600 or Visit us at – www.safe-electric.com
Speak to Raphael Magnus IEng MIET, LCGI MD