Every time I switch on one specific circuit breaker, the residual-current device (RCD) switches off. I've disconnected every device that's on the group, and even took out all light bulbs, but the problem doesn't go away.

I think there are two options now, either there's something wrong with the circuit breaker, or with the wiring (there are three other groups that share the RCD, but I have no problem with those, so I think the RCD is OK).

Are there other options, and how do I find out where my problem is?

(I know next to nothing about electrical wiring, so I hope I got the terms right.)

  • 4
    If as you say you know nothing about wiring it is time to call an electrician.
    – mikes
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 18:40
  • 1
    Has anything changed (installed new electrical device, messed with wiring, hung a picture on the wall with a nail, etc.)? I'm assuming at one point everything was working fine, then something happened and you started having problems. Is it possible that some-genius connected the grounded (neutral) conductor, to the grounding (earth) conductor somewhere in the circuit?
    – Tester101
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 16:39
  • @Tester101 As far as I know, nothing changed. I woke up one morning and found I had no power on several groups. No geniuses worked on the wiring after the house was built just a few years ago.
    – Miel
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 9:43

3 Answers 3


First choice: Call a licensed electrician. Second choice: Find all the outlets and lights which are affected by the breaker. Start with the one closest to the panel. Open them all up and visually inspect. If nothing is seen, turn on the breaker with everything opened up - does it still trip. Sometimes movement in the boxes will re-position wires and remove a short.
If you still have a problem, start removing sections from the circuit - i.e., disconnect them from the line. Start in the middle - check breaker if no more tripping your problem is down line from that point. Get the idea?


I had this problem when there was something wrong with the wiring. Try tracing the wiring from the circuit and look at each junction box, socket, and fixture for a short.

Pay extra attention to anything you may have moved or modified.


In the US, switching a breaker on will sometimes trip a GFCI for no apparent reason. Reset the GFCI with the breaker on, and if it trips with current to it, it may be bad, OR you might have a ground fault. These devices aren't designed to last more than 5 to 10 years. If considering replacement, have an electrician check the wiring first. I've seen many GFCI devices wired incorrectly. They may work, but do not protect additional circuits on the line as intended.

With this being a combined over-current protector as well, you would quite possibly trip the device by simply turning on the breaker with ANY current surging further down the line, as the breaker goes on. This might be some item you haven't thought of, such as a doorbell transformer, automatic light switch, burglar alarm, etc. If it won't reset, or keeps tripping with current ON, then have it, along with the circuit, inspected or replaced.

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