Mains Power Failure

Your local electricity network operator or supplier should be able to tell you if a power cut has occurred and, if so, how long it's likely to last.

If there has been a power cut, switch off and unplug any expensive electrical items such as your hi-fi, TV and computer, this will prevent them getting damaged when the power returns. If you need to use candles for light, never leave them unattended.

You may be able to claim compensation from your supplier if:

    - The power cut lasts for more than 18 hours, or
    - In one year, you have more than four power cuts of at least three hours each, or
    - You suffer particular hardship as a result of a power cut.

The Northern Powergrid Website has more advice on power cuts and compensation.

Resetting the 'trip switch'

First of all, check whether the circuit breaker has been 'tripped'. This is a safety measure that's triggered when your electrical system becomes overloaded. This may happen if, for example, you try to operate too many electrical appliances at once or you turn on a faulty appliance. If this happens, you'll need to switch the circuit breaker in your fuse box back on again. If you're unsure how to do this, call the helpline of your local electricity network operator or supplier and an adviser should be able to talk you through the process. You can find contact details in the phone book or on the Northern Powergrid website.

If you can't turn the circuit breaker back on and there isn't a power cut in your area, you'll probably need to call in a qualified electrician to fix the problem.

Disconnection for works

Your supplier may occasionally need to disconnect your electricity supply in order to carry out essential works. You should be given written notice of this in advance. If you particularly need power in your home (for example, if you are elderly or have a medical condition) get in touch with your supplier. They should be able to help you arrange an alternative energy supply (for example, from a generator) while the repairs are being carried out.

Disconnection due to unpaid bills

If you have not paid your electricity bill, it's possible that your supplier may have disconnected you. However, this should only be a last resort for your supplier, and you should always be given plenty of warning. There are steps you can take if you are having problems paying your bills.