5 Reasons Your Consumer Unit May Be Tripping The breaker

Consumer units contain all your homes wiring in an easy to understand layout with circuit breakers being assigned to different rings such your sockets, light, boiler and so on. So what could cause your consumer unit to trip one of the circuit breakers ?

Light Bulbs

A blown light bulb will sometimes trip your circuit breaker, especially on a modern RCB consumer unit which is designed to be very sensitive to changes involtage for your safety. If your circuit breaker goes and all the light bulbs appear to be in working order if you use the standard plastic bulb holder fitting very often these can go hard and become brittle and cause problems. If inspecting your bulb holders only do so with the power off for your safety and never use and metal object to touch the bulb holder. A visual inspection will normally be adequate to spot any potential issues.


If you find the breaker for your socket ring is tripping on a regular basis there may be an issue with an appliance which has been plugged into a socket or the wiring may have developed an issue. Older wiring becomes brittle over time and can leave the bare wire exposed to the elements, in cold weather this may cause issues, as well as being a safety issue. You check if any appliances are faulty you could have a PAT test carried out or unplug appliances you feel may be causing an issue. If the circuit is tripping on a regular basis there is an issue that needs resolved, perhaps someone has just plugged in an appliance. You could monitor any socket activity or powering on of appliances just before the circuit trips.

Exterior Lighting

If the exterior lighting of your home, such as garden lights, is tripping (it should be on it’s own circuit) then there may be damage to the wiring. Special cable is used for exterior wiring and it may have been damaged which has caused it to start deteriorate leaving it exposed to the elements. First port of call would be checking for any blown bulbs or damage to the casing of the lights themselves. Any cracks may be letting in enough moisture to cause the cicuit to trip. Again ensure the power is off when inspecting any exterior lights and use caution.

Damaged Wiring

In older properties wiring can become to deteriorate, become brittle and start exposing the bare wires, in attic space there is the possibility of rodents chewing through the cables. It’s likely you would here such a problem at night as the rodents move around and would lead you to suspect this may be the issue. Typically socket and lighting wiring would be affected at first because it is likely to be the oldest. It would be worth trying some of the options above first before suspecting there is an issue with the wiring itself.

Older Consumer Units

Older consumer units may cause issues, most notably would the old units which use fuse wire. These would really need to be upgraded for your own safety as they are notoriously unreliable, either being over sensitive or under sensitive. The unit would need to be tested before being able to pinpoint the old consumer unit as the issue.

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