What is an ‘RCD’?
An advantage of having an Electrician fit a new 17th edition consumer unit is a safety device, fitted within the unit, called a ‘Residual current device’ (RCD).
An RCD is 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.
Which appliances and Electric wiring will be protected?
As an RCD within a consumer unit is installed at the origin of all your electrical system, it will provide protection to all the wiring, sockets and appliances in your home. This means that using all electrical equipment, from everyday items to power tools, will be much safer and risk of electrocution will be drastically reduced. Current regulations state that in a domestic property usually all circuits will be protected by two or more RCD’s. Therefore if you have a modern Consumer unit everything electrical in your home will benefit from the extra protection.
RCD’s are also available as a portable plug adapter. This is an option if you do not yet have a modern Consumer Unit installed. Whilst this will only protect the appliance plugged in to the adapter, they are highly recommended for certain items, such as outdoor, kitchen or garage equipment.
Are RCDs reliable?
Tests state that fixed RCD’s 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.
Although RCD protection reduces the risk of death or injury from electric shock it does not reduce the need to be careful. Have your wiring checked at least once every 10 years 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 RCD’s about every three months. Manufacturers recommend that portable RCD’s 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.