Tenant Tutorial: Electrical Consumer Board

IMPORTANT NOTE: You must not tamper with your electrical supply. In the event of power cut please telephone “105” which is the national electricity helpline> In the event of a power failure or burning smell contact your landlord immediately.

To check your electricity you can look at the fuses on your consumer board – it should be easy to find where the electricity in your home is controlled and distributed. It’s important that you know where your fuse-box is in case you ever need to turn the electricity off in an emergency. Your landlord should show you where this is and how it works when taking up a tenancy in a new property. The fuse-box/consumer board contains three things: the main switch, fuses and/or circuit breakers and Residual Current Devices. consumer-board-layout

A) Main Switch – this allows you to turn off the electricity supply to your home. You might have more than one mains switch, for example; if your home has electric storage heaters. In this case you may have a separate fuse-box.

B) Residual Current Devices (RCD) – these are switches that trip a circuit under dangerous conditions, and instantly disconnect the electricity.

C) Circuit Breakers – these are automatic protection devices in the fuse-box that switch off a circuit if they detect a fault. They are similar in size to fuses, but give more precise protection. When they ‘trip’ you can simply reset the switch, but make sure you correct the fault first.

How to detect a problem with your consumer board.

If you have a problem with an appliance, fixing or earthing problem the first thing that may trip is a circuit breaker. This may also trip the RCD which is relevant to the supply to the circuit breaker. In the box above, you will see there are two RCD’s supporting four circuit breakers and then in the event of a major problem the main switch board switch may be tripped as well.

Firstly you should check which circuit breaker has tripped. If it is a circuit breaker it will mean that something connected to that breaker has thrown the circuit. For instance if you have a heater which has overheated  it will throw the switch on the circuit. To detect which appliance has caused the problem you can unplug all the appliances on that circuit, reset the trip and then start to plug each appliance back in, one by one. When you reach the appliance which is faulty, the trip will trip again when you plug it in. Once you have identified the problem appliance appliance you can unplug it and reset the switch . If the appliance is yours then you will need to get it fixed or disposed of, and if it is the landlords they will need to repair or replace it.

Trip switches are very sensitive and can be tripped by a simple light bulb blowing or surge in electricity.


Fuses  (may be found in place of circuit breakers) –rewirable fuses have a piece of special fuse wire running between two screws. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse wire, it will become hot and melt. The melted fuse breaks the circuit, disconnecting the faulty circuit and keeping you safe. This wire can be replaced but MUST be replaced with the correct rating wire.
****** IF for any reason you are unsure DO NOT attempt yourself but seek assistance. ******

If your fusebox has a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a mixture of fuses it is likely that it dates back to before the 1960s and will need to be replaced.

IMPORTANT NOTE; The tenant tutorials page are here to assist a tenant to see if they can analyse a consumer board trip problem. YOU  MUST NOT attempt to rectify a problem unless you are confident that you can help resolve the problem without further damage. If you do not feel confident then you should continue to fill out the fields on the maintenance/repair and get your landlord to rectify the fault. It may be worth asking your landlord how to reset your switches in the future.

All electrical wiring must be installed and passed as safe by an approved contractor.

Landlords & letting agents can download and print off the PDF electrical tutorial below. They should then get the tenant to sign it to show that they have explained about their electricity consumer board in the even of an emergency.

Electrical Tutorial PDF Print-Out and Sign