Do you have nice chrome light switches ? Is your lighting circuit correctly earthed ?

If you fit metal light switches, then for safety (your safety!) they need to be earthed.  The problem is that on older installations, you may find that that their does not appear to be an earth-wire in the back of the box….

Or if there is – you could have another problem….  Is it actually connected to earth – or does it “just go somewhere” ?  Again in older property (and modern installations that have not been installed correctly) it was not unusual for the earths on the lighting circuits to be left un-connected.

I experienced this recently at a house.  The existing lighting circuit had recently been extended by “another electrician”.  He had not confirmed that the existing circuit earth was actually connected to anywhere… actually he didn’t really connect the new earths together either – at least not in compliance with current regulations – which he should have been working to…

The customer wanted to fit a nice chrome metal light switch. The earth wire was in the switch box – Good… NO NOT GOOD….  I tested the earth wire before connecting it – it had around 120v ac on it! – this would have been “leakage” (actually capacitance) from the live conductors in the cable.  If I had just connected this as it was – someone could have had a nasty surprise when they turned the light on or off – especially in bare feet!

Fix: I had to check all the lighting circuit connections back to the consumer unit, ensuring that every earth wire was correctly connected together at each joint.  I did also check that the consumer did actually have an earth on it – I’ve come across that problem in the past also!

Main Protective Bonding (earth bonding to gas pipes etc.)

I got called to look at a Flat the other day – Built sometime in the 1970’s (??) – it had failed a “Gas Safety Inspection” – there was a problem reported with the “bonding” on the Gas Meter…

When I got there, it was missing “Protective Bonding wires” to both the Gas Meter and the Water pipes.  The “Fusebox” (yes it was an old-school Fusebox) was at the opposite end of the flat to the incoming water and the Kitchen (where the gas meter was).  (about 10 metres of cable runs required).

Whilst the 17th wiring regulations make a great fuss about this bonding – it wasn’t required when the flat was built (and the “Fuse box” was installed).  Therefore – whilst not “compliant with current standards” – it is still conforms to the regulations when it was originally installed.  It may not be “ideal” – it may not be considered “safe” by current thinking – but it is “legal”.  If the “fusebox” were to be replaced by a modern unit, complete with RCD, then it would *have* to have the missing bonding installed to be compliant… and if it is not “compliant” then it can’t be “signed off” – which means it would not be legal after the upgrade – but as it stands…. It’s legal.

Recommendation:  Carry out a full inspection of the flat in case of any other problems, upgrade the consumer unit to comply with current regulations, fit the missing “Protective Bonding” where required and carry out a full system test.  This action would be especially recommended were the flat to be rented out.

As for the Gas Certificate: I am not a Gas Safe Engineer – I am an electrician – but my research suggests that it should be passed by Gas Safety with a “notification of not to standard“.

Got an electric car & saving money on petrol ?

If you have one of these new fangled electric cars (or Hybrids) you will no doubt need to plug it in from “time to time” to recharge it.

Are you aware that “just slinging an extension lead out of the Garage” could be dangerous ?

There is now new legislation on Car Charging Posts for charging Electric cars – this has been added into the latest version of BS7671.  The worry is that if a fault developed and your car was being charged on your drive (from a cable plugged into a socket in your garage for example) it is possible for your car to become live….  You then walk up to it (standing on the ground (the car is on rubber tyres) and you touch the door handle………    I will leave the rest to your imagination.

BS7671 details safety requirements, including possible additional earthing (if required – posts in the ground) and safety disconnect devices that must be manually reset.

Also, the car can draw a lot of power while charging – are you sure the circuit you are plugged into is “up to the job” ?

Having spent all that money on the car – perhaps you should consider spending a little more to ensure that you live long enough to use it!  🙂

Do-it-yourself Home Electrics

“Anyone can work on their home electrics…”

However, did you know that all work that you do on your home electrics is now controlled by law?

Every change or modification you make must comply with current building regulations in every respect.  If you do not do this, you could be prosecuted (you could kill someone, which (I guess) would be worse!)

Certain jobs and types of work are “notifiable” to your local Buildings department. These are namely: Any changes in rooms containing bath or shower, new circuits, new consumer unit (fusebox), full rewire.  Any work like this MUST be tested and signed off by a registered competent person and must be certificated to show that it complies with BS 7671.  This certificate must then be sent to Building Control.

Even if you carry out simple non-notifiable jobs in your own home, you are still required to ensure that it is installed, tested and certificated in accordance with BS 7671 (extract from Building regs Part P).  This means correct placement of sockets & switches, correct method of wiring etc. and that it is safe.

Section 3.14 of Part P says: If local authorities find that non-notifiable work is unsafe and non-compliant, they can take enforcement action.

Whenever any electrical work is done (notifiable or not) BS 7671 require a certificate to be raised.  For non notifiable work, a simple “Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate” is fine. (BS 7671: 631.3). This certificate requires that make certain electrical tests – for this you need special (and expensive) equipment.  You also need to understand the technical stuff, so that you can correctly fill in this form.  This certificate does not have to be submitted to anyone, but should be kept for your house records.

Hello Everybody – I’m back…

Welcome to Tony Sparks Electrics…

Some of you may remember me as “The Electric Warrior” in the days of another social revolution long before the likes of Facebook..

Many of you will not – but no matter…

The point is – that I am here… and I can sort your home electrical problems.  I am based in Newport, Shropshire, not far from Telford.

I can also help you with your other electronic and IT problems as well – but the main purpose of this website is to bring my Electrical Skills to your attention.

I am fully qualified as a Domestic Installer.  This means that I can tackle all aspects of home electrics

Have you bought an electric (or Hybrid) car ?

Did you know that “just plugging your charge cable through the house window”  (or the Garage) could be dangerous ?  Having spent all that money on a new car, why not consider having a safe, dedicated charging socket fitted on your drive to charge the car ?