Tag Archives: Hampshire

Those green and yellow coloured wires under the kitchen sink

Home owners may have noticed in their homes there are often quite large looking green and yellow coloured wires (cables) connected to the mains water pipe, often under the kitchen sink.  There are similar cables connected to the mains gas pipe as well, if there is gas in the house. Are they important to electrical safety? well yes most definitely.  In situations where there is a fault in the house electrical system or the importantly the electricity supply system outside the house, then these cables are to help protect the persons in the house from electric shock and the home itself from fire risk.

One problem I find is these connections can become loose or broken and occupants of the home could well not even notice. These connections could be improperly made and left for many years unattended to.  If one of the cables is loose, broken or has a poor connection then under normal circumstances those living in the house would notice no difference in the electrical supply to lights and sockets. But if these was a fault then a dangerous situation could occur.

These cables and connections are important for home electrical safety.  If a home has any electrical changes such as a socket moved or a light switch moved then a qualified electrician will always first inspect these cables to ensure all is OK. If no electrical installation additions or changes are made on the property for many years then a Periodic Inspection will spot any problems. Periodic Inspections should usually be performed no less than every 10 years on a Domestic property.

Summary:-

Do not remove or tamper with these connections. They are labeled with Electrical Safety  Connection Do Not Remove.

If you notice any damage or disturbance of these green and yellow cables clamped to pipes then call in an electrician to have a look.

Arrange with an Electrician for a Periodic Inspection of your home at least every 10 years.  Note there should be a label on the home Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) stating when the next inspection is due.

 

Saving Energy In The Home

If you wish to minimise electrical energy usage in the home then every few years I suggest take the trouble to look at the energy your electrical appliances are using. In particular freezers and fridges.  With the increase in local shops and the increasing household habit to shop local then there is less of a need for large fridges and freezers.  Some of the older freezers use a considerable amount of energy that does not justify use considering the relative small savings available for bulk buying. This is particularly so if the number of occupants in the house has reduced for example if teenagers are growing up and leaving home. Simply swapping out of a large old chest freezer and a old fridge could make a dramatic difference to energy use, enough to instead pay for a new compact fridge freezer over say 8 years.

Other high energy use appliances include washing machines and dishwashers.  When you need a new one then choose a washing machine that has a decent range of cool and cold wash programmes because heating cold water up by electricity is relatively expensive. Unfortunately the choice of hot water fill washing machines is now fairly limited which was useful if water is heated by gas, wood or solar energy. But cool or cold wash with bio type detergents is I think satisfactory for most items, though not tried it myself it is possibly OK for everything.

Hopefully most homes have now got rid of filament lamps (bulbs) for lighting in lights that are used frequently and have newer low energy type lamps.  Compact Fluorescents have been around for many years and are cheap, LED bulbs are readily available.  I would expect to see filament lamps only in rarely used places such as store cupboards and maybe a cloakroom, but even then I cannot see a reason for continuing to use them because LEDs produce instant light are not expensive.

Oh and finally is you have a house with vast numbers of those silly 40 watt GU22 halogen downlighters lamps  that don’t last long anyway and are fiddle to change. Then get an electrician in to swap them all out for good quality GU22 LED lamps instead.  The electrician would at the same time be able to check from a safety perspective as to whether the correct type of downlighters are installed in higher risk areas such as bathrooms.

Fuse Box Replacement Prices

Because of a change to the UK electrical installation regulations the costs for a Domestic Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) are very likely to increase and the new Consumer Units that I have seen for far from manufacturers are not so compact or pretty to look at.  The pricing for these new Consumer Units  will be become clearer as more options from manufacturers become available.

However the good news is these new Consumer Units are designed to be a lower fire risk than many previous designs, because that is why they have changed the regulations!

These regulation changes for Consumer Units come into force from June this year but to allow for Manufacturers to get organised with new products there is an agreed relaxation that both old and new regulation Consumer Units can be used until January 2016.

 

Old Spotlight Downlighters

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I came across this R80 downlighter in a domestic bathroom. The reported problem was the ES lamp had jammed in the fitting.  Simple problem to solve maybe, or maybe not.  The plastic assembly had hardened with age, the terminal connectors to the supply were not enclosed, the fixed wiring appears to be flex, the fitting was completely covered in insulation and hence a fire risk, not unexpectedly there was no RCD for it, it was an ordinary R80 fitting (not sealed).  Not a pretty sight but had obviously been like that for many years since it was first installed when the house was built.  There were other issues elsewhere in the property so the likely outcome will be a new Consumer Unit and partial rewire.

Changes to Electrical Installation Regulations in 2015

After I attended a briefing and update session today by the NICEIC I can report on some of the main points of interest to property owners:-

  • Between January and July 2015 electrical installations work undertaken can comply with either the old or the new regulations. From July 2015 the new regulations will apply except in one regard in respect of replacement or new Consumer Units. Any electrical contractor engaged should by January be conversant with the new regulations.
  • Not unexpectedly the changes to regulations are there mainly to improve safety to persons and property. A few of the changes are to better align our regulations alongside common European regulations.
  • For home owners, from January 2016 at the latest, the main change will be a slightly different construction for Consumer Units (aka Fuse Box) for any new or replacement installations. Consumer Units will need to be of a fire resistance construction, in other words steel. They may not be quite so pretty and the method for the cables entering the Consumer Unit may not be so flexible or pretty either.  We shall have to wait and see what the manufacturing industry comes up with over time as they accommodate this new requirements.  I would forecast that prices for these new steel Consumer Units will be more expensive to manufacture and will take a little longer to install.  It also means that from mid 2014 there could be a flood of 3rd Amendment Regulation non compliant Consumer Units available at knock down prices.
  • For commercial businesses, schools, colleges and government buildings there will be stricter requirements for additional protection against electric shock on socket outlet circuits by increasing the use of safety devices called RCDs.  It will be a useful change in increasing safety but it does mean perhaps increased costs and in some cases a different approach to design circuits for computer equipment in offices and education establishments.
  • The will be more focus of design, inspection and testing of control circuits such as those used for central heating systems. This could present some challenges for Gas/Oil heating system engineers who may in the future have to call in an electrician whereas previously they could have completed the wiring to control valves, controllers and thermostats themselves.  This too will have cost implications on home owners.
  • The regulations for formal Inspection are changing a little as well. Enough require all new stationary and reference material for electrical contractors. Also new  methods and adjustments to learn how to use for recording results.
  • Interestingly there is a new regulation that when Periodic Inspections and Tests are being undertaken in Homes and Business Premises then inspection to some degree or another in accessible loft spaces is now required unless recorded as a reasonable non compliance. Previously the inspection of wiring in loft spaces was a reasonably accepted omission. This is certainly a safety improvement as I personally have found a fair number of safety issues with wiring in lofts.
  • Another change is the need to ensure cables that run above or across safe exit routes but be secured with supports that will resist heat/fire. This is to avoid fire fighters and escapees being tangled up in drooping wire when try to get out of fire damaged building. Apparently the Fire Fighters requested this changes because there had been several deaths because of this problem.  To installing electricians this is a fairly  easy requirement to meet by using metal type buckle clips or purpose designed cable retainers for use inside trunking.
  • In the new Regulations there will now be approximately 1500 individual regulations, and increase of several hundred compared to the current issue.
  • As is usual for these electrical regulation updates they are not intended to be applied retrospectively. So for example if your home has an Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) with a plastic case then it does not mean you have to change it just for that reason alone. But if it had to be changed for any other reason then it would have to be a steel cased model to be compliant.

 

School USB Charging

In College and Secondary School libraries there is increasing use of tablets other compact mobile computing devices in private and group study areas. Associated with this is the need to provide a battery charging capability for the devices. It might be of interest to Librarians to know that 13A 240V double socket power outlets are now available with USB charging points built into the face plate.

Home Electrical Installation Inspection

Often for a few hundred pounds an electrician can throughly safety check a home or small business electrical installation. This would most likely include advise concerning essential or desirable work, energy usage reduction techniques and fire/smoke detection alarms. This inspection is called Periodic inspection and testing. It usually only needs doing every 10 years. If it costs £200- 250 for this inspection and test, that is only £20-25 a year over 10 years. I would say is very good value compared to say a annual gas boiler service or a chimney sweep once a year. Compared to the probable value of the property as a whole it would be a wise investment for the safety of the family in the house

Consumer Unit Replacements

Changing out old Consumer Units (also known as Fuse Boxes) in older homes and businesses can have its complications but is often not particularly expensive (see Which Local web site for electrical work typical prices). But it is often well worth the expenditure because in some cases the safety improvement alone is very beneficial. The most likely reason for a consumer unit change is either due a fault in the home electrical system highlighting the need for change or the home owner having a requirement to make changes to home that require electrical installation altered.

The common benefits from a Consumer Unit upgrade include: Considerably improved protection of the users from electric shock, reduced fire risk, less impact on other parts of the electrical systems when a fault does occur, easier and quicker to restore power if there is a fault, easier to modify electrical installation if kitchens or bathrooms are being renovated, replacement or additional components available from manufacturers should changes be required in the future.

My suggestion is that home owners do not wait until you have some other project or reason to change a Consumer Unit, but instead look at it as part of the normal general improvement of a property over the period of ownership. You could spend £500 on a television just for pleasure, so why not £500 on a new Consumer unit to improve the safety of a home costing £100,000s.