ESC advice: what to do if the lights or the sockets are not working, troubleshooting

This article is part of the ESC series of advices for the home users, electricians, and anyone interested to find out solutions to their problems or simply know what are the current rules and regulations for being electrical safe in the UK. Even more, this particular article deals with what to do/not to do when the wall lights or ceiling lights are not working, and what to do when the sockets are not working. Especially in the UK, many people rely on the electrician to do all the work / know everything – but sometimes it is absolutely necessary that we ourselves would know a little of what’s going on with the electrical devices / wiring accessories in our home.

ESC Troubleshooting Advice: In case the Wall or ceiling lights are not working

  • If your wall light or ceiling light are not working it will be due to either a bulb that has blown or there is a problem with the circuit. To find out whether it is just a bulb that has blown, please check to see if the lights in other rooms are working. If it is a circuit problem then all the lights in one or more rooms will not be working.
  • In the case of a blown bulb – switch the light switch to the off position and wait for the bulb to cool down. Take out the blown bulb from the light fitting and insert a new bulb.
  • In case the circuit has a problem – find and open the cover on your consumer unit (fusebox). Most homes have two lighting circuits, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Check if one of the circuit breakers has tripped (turned off). If it has, reset it by switching it back on, the lights should now work.
  • If resetting the circuit breaker does not work, it is recommended that you call an electrician.

Please Note: most modern circuit breakers are sensitive devices and a bulb blowing can easily cause them to trip.

ESC Troubleshooting Advice: In case the Socket not working

Check that it definitely is the socket that is not working by plugging a different appliance into the socket. It is also recommended to try other sockets to see whether the problem is with one or, as will probably be the case, with several sockets. Here are some things you might find useful to help you find what is the problem with the socket / the sockets:

  • In case the problem is with the appliance – if it is the appliance, check the plug and try replacing the fuse. If this does not work then the appliance may need to be repaired or replaced.
  • In case the problem is with the socket – find and open your consumer unit (fusebox) and check the circuit breaker for the particular socket outlet circuit. You will also need to check the residual current device (RCD).
  • The circuit breaker and/or the RCD may have tripped (turned off) due to a faulty appliance that has been plugged into a socket. You will not be able to reset either of the devices until the faulty item has been unplugged from the circuit.
  • If you are not sure which appliance has caused the problem, you can do one more thing: unplug all appliances, reset the circuit breaker and/or RCD by switching back on. Then, plug each appliance back in, one by one, until the faulty item (which trips the circuit) is found.
  • If you still cannot reset the circuit breaker and/or RCD even with all the appliances disconnected, it is recommended that you call an electrician.
  • For large appliances that are wired into a circuit such as a cooker or immersion heater, check whether the circuit breaker has tripped and try to reset it. If this does not work, don’t hesitate to call an electrician.

Read the entire article via the Troubleshooting section on the ESC website. Also, take a look at the below ESC Tips for homeowners:


  1. Hi my sercit board triped some of my light are on and some sockets but some sockets are not working but some are reset the box but the sockets are not working

  2. Upstairs lights not working, if been to fuse box but cant switch the relevant switch upwards.

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