So, what exactly is a neutral earth fault? A neutral to earth fault indicates that the current is leaking from the neutral conductor side of the circuit rather than the live side. In most household applications, the earth and neutral are often linked together, resulting in a low voltage between them. This means that if someone were to contact this path, they would get a good electrical connection but there would be no danger of being shocked.
The leakage could come from many places such as worn or broken insulation, or even through contamination of the neutral conductor with water or metal particles. The presence of a neutral-to-earth fault should not be ignored because it can cause damage to equipment who rely on a stable power supply. For example, computers need a constant voltage to operate correctly so they will shut down if there is a fluctuation present on their power supply. It is important to locate the source of the leak before it causes any harm, so check all parts of your home where electricity might be coming into contact with water, for example under sinks, toilets, and washing machines. If you find something damaged make sure it gets repaired by a qualified person.
Earth faults can also appear when old wiring is replaced with new material that has different properties. For example, if aluminum wiring was used before 2004 then it should always be connected to an aluminum connector or conduit. If copper wire is used instead, there must be a continuous coating of insulation on each conductor.
An earth fault is an unintentional short circuit between the live conductor and the earth. The electrical system is short-circuited when an earth fault develops, and the short-circuited current passes through the system. The fault current flows back through the ground or any electrical equipment, causing damage to the device. Earth faults can be either surface or subsurface.
Earth faults can be either temporary or permanent. Temporary earth faults are usually caused by moisture that has accumulated in an underground conduit system. Moisture increases the resistance across which the current must flow, thereby reducing the current flowing into the conduit. This reduces the pressure within the conduit, causing it to collapse. The moisture also causes some of the wires within the conduit to break down, creating more open circuits for current to follow. Permanent earth faults are usually due to broken or deteriorated conduits or cables. They may also occur where metal parts of electrical appliances come in contact, such as from corrosion or aging components. These types of faults cannot be repaired by a maintenance crew but require replacement of the damaged cable or conduit.
Earth faults can also be referred to as system faults or line-to-ground faults. "Fault" comes from the word "fear", which means "to cause to suffer harm". Thus, an earth fault is when current suffers harm upon itself by going through the ground.
Earth faults can be either positive or negative.
A neutral earthing system is one in which the neutral is securely linked to the earth or through a resistance or reactance of sufficient value to considerably minimize transients and provide enough current for selective earth fault prevention devices to work. The term "neutral" means a conductor serving as a reference point for grounding other conductors or objects. A neutral conductor cannot be used as an electrical ground unless it is also mechanically bonded to the earth.
In an electric power system, electricity is transmitted from generating stations to substations and on to houses and businesses via transmission lines. If not properly grounded, these lines can act as antennas and transmit radio frequency (RF) energy that can cause problems with communications equipment and lead to errors when using GPS navigation devices. This is why all household outlets should be wired separately so that none of them can become a path to ground if someone tries to connect them together by mistake. This would be like trying to use a light socket as a drain pipe to pour water into your house - it might work on paper, but not in reality.
The danger stems from the fact that almost every outlet in a home or office building is fed electricity from a single cable called the hot line. This line carries voltage from the transformer at the power station to the substation and on to individual outlets. It must be remembered that electricity is a matter of electrons flowing in a circuit, not magnetic fields or vibrations.