Project Notes

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Wiring for a new kitchen.

This installation supplied a typical kitchen with the requisite power for the cooker, appliances, extractor fan, pelmet lights and ceiling lights.

The 17th Edition Regulations require RCD protection for all of the above cables, so I could have simply installed a small Consumer Unit with only enough fuses to supp
ly the three new circuits. Instead I installed a larger Dual RCD model adjacent to the existing old style unit for little extra cost. This allowed me to connect the new circuits and to propose to the client that the existing circuits be tested and repaired before transferring them to the new Consumer Unit as well. Spare ways on the new Unit means that new circuits in the future can be easily accommodated.  I upgraded rather old Main Earth Bonding at the same time.

Complete Electrical Installation for new build flat, Battersea, SW11.

With a whole new one-bedroom flat and kitchen diner added to the top of an existing three storey building this installation needed everything from the heavy duty supply cable to the Economy 7 consumer unit for the night storage heaters and the lights, sockets and TV points.

The project required the help of the supply company EDF to install the Standard and Economy 7 meters, with me advising the
client on how to contact them and what to request. 

I then carried out the rest of the installation and filled out the Electrical Installation Certificate before EDF checked my paperwork and made the system ‘live’.

I installed a system for the relatively small flat that still followed the rules of good design. Two separate socket circuits and two separate lighting circuits to insure that sockets and lights remained working in half of the flat should a fault develop. A Standard and an Economy 7 supply to the water tank to take advantage of the cheaper electricity offered under the Economy 7 ‘white tariff’ at night. And a separate Smoke Detection circuit to protect against fire.

Garden Lighting and Power, Herondale Avenue, Wandsworth, SW18.

A huge job, this one.

The clients wanted a sympathetic lighting scheme to illuminate their newly landscaped gardens and seating area. Mature trees, established shrubs and newly planted borders meant an appreciation of how much the garden shape would change as new growth rose up to meet the old. Hard landscaping, such as flagstones and steps, required the careful placement of lights to bring out features and textures.

My first job was to install a suitable power supply for the lights and the sockets. The latter were shared between waterproof units located around the garden to supply portable equipment and regular sockets installed in the outhouse.

The lights themselves- a mixture of spotlights and floodlights carefully placed to pick out particular plant specimens- were ultimately controlled by a flexible switch system, allowing the clients to operate the various circuits from the comfort of the house or with a hand held remote control.  The steps down from the terrace were carefully illuminated with recessed spotlights drilled into the staircase wall and the metal grill fence forming the climbing frame for young creepers and ramblers was highlighted with vertical spotlights to create an arresting mix of light and shadow. A little light goes a long way with garden lighting….

Throughout the planning I made careful reference to the relevant Regulations governing the use of electricity in the harsh outdoors environment. It’s not known to mix well with water, and the choice of durable SWA cable, waterproof junction boxes and RCD devices will continue to ensure that humans and animals are kept safe from the more undesirable effects of high voltage!

Periodic Inspection Report following a leak and the discovery of amateur wiring.

I took a call from a client reporting a fault with the kitchen lights, following a penetrating leak from a faulty roof. This, she reported, seemed to coincide strangely with intermittent lights in the bedroom. Could the two be related?

My inspection of the Consumer Unit (always a good way of judging the state of the installation) didn’t fill me with confidence. Modern Consumer Units are meant to have, as a working average, two RCD devices protecting the circuits. This one had three- all of the wrong type and specification and covering the most unlikely circuits, such as the bell transformer. I confirmed with the client that the unit had been installed by a non-professional electrician. I quickly persuaded her to agree to a Periodic Inspection of the whole system as there were, of course, no certificates from the original workman. The circuits could have been in any sort of condition. 

Which of course they were…

The Visual Inspection part of the Report soon exposed the reason for the faulty lights. Loose connections are nearly always to blame for such intermittent failure as the electricity tries to get across weak joints and through restricted cables. More importantly, loose connections are one of the major causes of house fire.

The Meter part of the Report showed damaged cables to the boiler, which is why the previous workman had ‘stolen’ power from an adjacent plug socket to supply power to keep it going. A lot of the installation, including the lighting circuit connections at the switches, showed a lack of basic knowledge and an absence of testing to detect any faults. We all make mistakes, but it’s the job of the meter to show them up so that they can be put right.

The client accepted all of the Report recommendations and I carried out a partial rewire. No need to take out all of the wire or to throw the lights away. Simply tests to establish healthy cable and attention to detail when making new connections. And a new Consumer Unit with the right protective devices in the right places. 

I followed up the physical work by issuing an Electrical Installation Certificate and registering the job with the local Council, which I can do as a result of my NICEIC membership.

P.S. The two faults originally reported were not directly related. They were an unhappy coincidence. However it took time, experience and a £1200.00 meter to establish this fact and to put them right individually. Still want to trust those plug sockets to a bloke down the pub.....