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minilathe22

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Hello everyone,

Having moved house in December it is becoming clear that one of the previous owners was a bit of a bodge merchant and would use whatever they had lying around to finish the job. This appears to sadly also apply to the electrics. So far we have discovered the oven cable was shoehorned into a standard 13amp plug, the electric shower is was using a bakelite switch for a cooker, (both now fixed) and the bathroom lighting flickers when I accidentally poked the cables the other day moving things around in the loft, so who knows what they used for that.

I have old nonRCD style circuit breakers, one which I measured the voltage when turned off read 2v AC rather than zero. Perhaps these are due replacement.

Any other electrics bodge repairs I should look out for from a safety perspective?
 

sunnybob

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Earth continuity.

Get a multitester and check everything to everything on the ohms setting.
DONT use a buzzer circuit, they are not sensitive enough for safety checks.

Wall sockets (95% of them) have the securing screws connected to earth. Its a simple matter to use a tester and go from socket to socket, screw to screw. You want a very low reading, almost zero resistance.
When I did this as part of my work we failed any reading above 0.2 ohms
If you havent used a tester like this before, first join the leads together and take that reading, then deduct that reading from each of your results. If the leads dont reach, its simplicity to just use another piece of wire to extend, but again, take a reading of the extended leads before the actual test.

If you find a socket with no connection, investigate. I recently found a socket that was made with 1 screw connected to earth, so test both sides before taking it off the wall.

In your case where everything is suspect, it wouldnt hurt to check any metal sinks and taps to earth. Assuming of course you have metal piping and not plastic.
 

Sideways

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You won't be able to do the full range of tests that are advisable without a meter meant for the job. Testing insulation resistance and testing continuity down to 0.05 ohms aren't possible on even a lot of good meters.
My advice for a cheap initial check would be a martindale or kew brand plug in socket tester. The better versions of these will check for a functional earth and wiring polarity errors in all your sockets. That's a fair bit of reassurance for under £50.
The wiring regs recommend that a full electrical check is done on domestic properties every 10 years and more often on rental properties. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get the wiring inspected and tested professionally.
If you have someone who has meddled with the house wiring, I would be concerned about any sockets that look newer than the rest, they could be additions or replacements and may have been installed or wired incorrectly.
Also check the ratings of the fuses / breakers in your consumer unit to make sure they are appropriate for the circuit and you don't have a 30 Amp fuse (or a nail!) in a 6 Amp lighting circuit....
 

Pete Maddex

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When we moved in I found a powerpoint in the garage wired up with 1mm T&E lighting cable cliped to the wooden roof and connected to the cooker fuse, so 15A cable protected by a 30A fuse, and some power points connected to the cooker point in the kitchen.

Pete
 

Bod

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Full Electrical Safety check, done by a Qualified and professional electrician. Nothing less.
Have faults correctly repaired, and retested.
Household insurance will then have no get-outs for fire caused by electricity.

Bod.
 

Phil Pascoe

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My first house had a cooker wired in cloth insulated lead sheathed 6mm ............ as a spur on the dining room light.
My second had the tails in the consumer unit mixed up - rings fed from two fuses, the basement lights and the immersion heater on the same 30a fuse and so on. I met a friend in the local a few weeks after I'd bought the house and he told me I'd have no trouble with the electrics as the chap I bought it from was an electrician. :D :D
 

RogerS

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It's not just electricity that gets bodged. I discovered in one house I was renovating that the expansion pipe from the CH went into the cold water tank :shock:
 

sunnybob

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Thats how it used to be done back in the 50's and 60's.
 

minilathe22

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Thanks guys I wonder if lockdown rules allow someone in to look around if its for safety reasons. I guess I could be outside the property at the time.
 

AJB Temple

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Many electricians are still working through lockdown. Our house was bodge central and as we work our way through renovations it is being rewired. CU's all replaced with good quality Hager units. All dangerous circuits removed or permanently disabled.

The favourite trick from the previous owner was to add spurs and random extensions, all wired up with orange cable for outdoor electric tools. None of it in conduit. This was used to wire in the range cooker as well. They also put a spur in under the sink, wired into a lighting circuit, and this was just in a metal box, not fixed to anything. This was to run the dishwasher. No earth bonding to the stainless steel sink.

Once you know you have had an ace bodger on the premises, you really do need proper safety tests.
 

Woody2Shoes

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sunnybob":1hhzp63v said:
Thats how it used to be done back in the 50's and 60's.
That's how mine was done - otherwise very competently - 20 years ago.
 

Coyote

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When I pulled our old kitchen out I found a couple of sockets just screwed to battens with no back boxes. Something to look out for! Thankfully they weren't ones we were using.
 

Rorschach

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Coyote":2na11th0 said:
When I pulled our old kitchen out I found a couple of sockets just screwed to battens with no back boxes. Something to look out for! Thankfully they weren't ones we were using.
What made you think that was dangerous? I mean it's terrible laziness but not dangerous.
 

Coyote

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I was under the impression that all terminations has to be enclosed in a non flammable box?
 

Rorschach

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Coyote":2x5dlwfh said:
I was under the impression that all terminations has to be enclosed in a non flammable box?
Dry lining boxes are plastic, surface mount boxes are plastic. Like I say, it is not a great idea and should certainly be fixed, but I wouldn't consider it terribly dangerous compared to say running a cooker from a lighting circuit on 2 core flex as someone mentioned above.
 

Sideways

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Coyote":ixyt62sj said:
I was under the impression that all terminations has to be enclosed in a non flammable box?
No.
With a few exceptions like the domestic consumer unit where the regs make a specific requirement that most manufacturers find easiest to satisfy by making the boxes out of steel, there isn't a general requirement to contain electrics in non flammable enclosures.
BUT
There are a whole bunch of requirements that seek to assure safe design / satisfactory workmanship during installation and maintenance.
There are requirements relating to suitability for a whole range of environmental conditions from impact, through liquids, dusts, ambient heat & cold ....
There's a very wide ranging requirement for enclosures to meet ingress protection standards of IP2x and IP4x (on top) to keep fingers out and stop things falling into enclosures.
And a requirement that simply put means that if you can see and touch the brown / blue / green-yellow insulation, then it's wrong.
 

Phil Pascoe

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None of the junction boxes under the floors in my house had tops on them - I realised only when I took a ceiling down in the basement. I was lucky I'd not stuck my fingers in one.
 

jimmy_s

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I feel your pain

We have had similar issues

We nearly had a fire in the kitchen, which concerned me as when I found the burnt out cable it had been damaged during installation by being pulled through one of the hard white plastic surface mounting back boxes where you can knock out the plastic with a screwdriver etc but the plastic can be quite sharp. The live and earth had been arcing and nearly went on fire - kitchen was full of smoke. Removed it all and did a earth loop impedance test and found the kitchen earth loop impedance was too high.
Started tracing the circuits and to my horror found the kitchen ring cct and the lighting cct serving the kitchen, hall and a bathroom were being fed from a 40A rewirable fuse split at a henley block which had also nearly gone on fire through overheating/ poor connection. The earths had been twisted together and weren't terminated, which explained my poor earth issues.
Part of the house was wired from the back of the Scottish Power cut outs, so unless you pulled the utility cut out fuse you couldn't isolate the sub main cable.
I was in the loft tracing pipes and stumbled on a spiders nest of single core cables with chocolate block connectors which was also a fire risk and just dangerous.
The far end of the house was heated electrically - the ring cct had four number 3kw electric heaters spurred off the ring cct. On removing the heaters I found the ring had been broken - one of the live conductors had snapped so ring was functioning as two 2.5mm sq radials on a 32A MCB.
There have been other electrical issues such as a dangerous wiring job to a jacquzzi bath and the garage wiring also, its just endless. I am at the stage where I dont trust anything the past occupant did and am re-wiring the whole house and replacing consumer units - think I've replaced 6 now as they were all old re-wirable jobs or were needed to remove unsafe henley blocks etc.
I would get the wiring tested by an electrician if you are having issues and don't have access to test eqt. as the bodges may go unseen and may only be found by carrying out a series of including earth loop impedance and insulation resistance.
 

minilathe22

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Thanks for all the replies. I am going to see if I can test the earth resistance on all the plug socket screws but will also see if I can get hold of an electrician to give it all a once over.

I have a basic multimeter so can probably detect any major issues with earthing eg broken wires. If I have a "dumb mode" smart meter am I stuck with it now? Are they allowed to remove it? It was installed before we moved in and our current supplier cant connect to it. It sits there flashing away waiting for a connection...
 

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