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#139511 - 11/21/03 10:22 PM Cheap "Re-wires"!
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Over here, the Housing Department (that provides cheap rental accomodation for the Elderly and the Unemployed, are really jumping up and down at the moment!.
It seems that the contractors that have tendered for the re-wires of the Departments houses, have been fiddling the Dpt out of thousands.
You see, what happens over here, is the Housing Department, seeks tenders from local contractors, to perform the upkeep and maintenance on thier properties, which a couple of years ago, entailed rewiring many of these houses and installing new lights, switches and socket-outlets.
Also upgrading the switchboards to include MCB and RCD protection.
But, when some of these houses were inspected recently,(3 years after the work took place)it was found that the existing (TRS) wiring was still in-situ and the switchboards hadn't even been touched!.
All of the fittings in the houses were replaced, but the old wiring was still there.
The work was inspected after the contracts were completed, but the guy's glasses must have been so dark that he couldn't even see the old Porcelain fuses and the meters still on the interior board(meters were also required to be relocated outside).
Investigations are continuing, but it looks like someones in real trouble!.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#139512 - 11/22/03 11:17 AM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I guess this is the equivalent of what are known as "Council houses" in Britain.

If the incompetence of your Housing Dept. is equal to that of our local councils, it doesn't surprise me that they didn't notice anything wrong for so long.

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#139513 - 11/22/03 01:50 PM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
When wiring was being upgraded here in the 1960s and 1970s there were instances where people tried to camaflauge old wiring by replacing the old BS546 sockets with BS1363 or replacing crumbling old VDE sockets with newer ones but left all of the wiring in situ. This particularly happened when people were selling a house. It became common practice for any surveyor to remove a few random samples of sockets and light switches and check the wiring behind them.

it was potentially a Leathal fire hazard! You'd find thin rubber cables connected to a 13A socket which had replaced a 2 or 5Amp light socket and could even have been wired into the lighting circuits.

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#139514 - 11/22/03 05:35 PM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
djk,
I can see what you mean there, too!.
Paul,
These could be called Council houses, even though a Government Department administers them.
But they are still run to ruin by the tenants that inhabit them(apart from the Elderly), lots of bits of walls missing inside and broken windows and the complimentary 2-3 foot high lawn!.
Our local council does have Pensioner flats, but these are kept in Pristine condition by both the Council and the tenants, pride of place I suppose!.
Apparently, a lot of people that actually lived in these houses, were astonished that the old wires were still in the walls.
Problem is, most of these houses were all built around the same time, just after WWII and the wiring would have been pretty much shot at the time, less 3 years later!.
I can sort of imagine how these "re-wires" were done, with the ample use of PVC sleeving over the ends of the wires, where the insulation had crumbled off over time.
I've visited a few of these houses, after the odd kitchen fire or so forth and I could never work out how the fittings inside looked brand-new, but the switch-board was still the original Bakelite panel, in the Hallway of the house!.
BTW, the rquirement to have all Metering Equipment outside the house, came about because of one of these DoH houses, one day a Meterman from the PoCo, opened the locked door and made his way to the Hallway sw-bd,
only to find a fully grown Doberman at the other end of the Hall!.
Dogs were also banned from these houses too.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#139515 - 11/23/03 04:54 AM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I've seen similar "rewires" here, not just in council houses, where somebody has fitted new sockets and switches to the existing wiring.

Many people really do have the "out of sight, out of mind" attitude.

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#139516 - 11/23/03 09:10 AM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
One of the scariest re-wires I've come across personally was in a house that we moved into. The wiring dated from the 1960s and was in reasonably good condition. There were radial 16 and 20A power circuits served by a diazed board with a retrofitted RCD. Lighting circuits and a 32A cooker circuit.

This would have been fine and not posed any problem except for one thing:

The kitchen was modernised: Originally it had a double 16A socket over the worktop (Schuko) (Shared a 20A fuse)
a 16A socket behind the washing machine and one for the fridge (These both shared a 20A fuse) and a cooker circuit (32A).

The kitchen guys installed a new kitchen and did the following:

They used the exsisting 20A circuit which had been serving 2 X Schuko outlets to supply:
6 X 13A 2-gang IS411 (BS1363) outlets over the counters
1 X cooker hood
1 X Microwave combination oven (3KW)
1 X Dishwasher (2.8 KW max)
and the other 20A circuit was left behind the fridge! (a very small load)

The 32A circuit was used for the new hob & oven (split into 2 circuits and served by 2 switches which was fine)

Obviously a 20A diazed fuse would blow if all of those things were turned on simultaniously. So.. the idiot who was installing the kitchen very simply "hacked the fuse" i.e. using a power screw driver screwed a long screw thru the top of the fuse and popped it back in.

We had no idea that there was anything wrong until I noticed a very strange smell in the hallway one day.. kinda burning smell but not quite sure what it was.

Sniffed around.. opened the cabinate over the hall door. The porceline diazed fuse holder was so hot that you physically couldn't touch it and the plastic on the board was all burned back around it!

Strangely enough the original house cables were very over specified and hadn't really melted (they were capable of carrying 32A (no idea why this was the case) but the junction box they had used in the attic over the kitchen was completely under rated and totally destroyed.

We claimed against insurance and the insurance company sued the surveyer!

Turned out the guys who'd installed the kitchen had said that they'd used an electrician and even invoiced for one but had infact used a carpenter!!!!!

We also sued the kitchen contractor

It was very lucky that we didn't have a really bad house fire!

----
In Ireland it was standard practice to install indoor meters right up until the late 1960s when flush built-in white plastic boxes were installed in side entrances for meters as standard.

Many 1930s to 1960s houses have the meter located in the garage at a 90degree angle from a window so the meter reader can usually read them without entering the premisis at all. (Along side the fuse board)

Old terrace houses all have their meters located right beside the "fanlight" (window over the halldoor) so in a lot of cases they can be read thru the window. However many customers have decided that this arrangement is ugly and put a cupboard around the meter. Sometimes the fuse board is located along side the meter sometimes, as it would be too ugly, it's located elsewhere.

If a major re-wire is being carried out or if the meter needs to be relocated to fit in with any kind of renovation of the building the ESB requires that a meter box be installed on an exterior wall.
There are some exceptions to this rule where it would be impossible to install such a box e.g. in a terrace house or where it would just look too ugly. It is also impossible to retrofit these to old stone structures.

In Pre WW II houses it's quite common to find the meter/s and a big diazed panel under the stairs.

----

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#139517 - 11/29/03 05:16 PM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
djk,
You were darn lucky there, mate!.
It's a good thing that the cables were over-specified and also the fact that you noticed the burning smell.
Personally, I'd sue too, this could have ended in a very tragic way.
With regard to Metering, when I was working for the local PoCo here, we launched into a massive Undergrounding project and 4 streets were U/Ged, the meters were all relocated outside.
The brick and block layers around town here, wanted to leave town, I think, because we were getting them to cut out holes in the sides of peoples houses, to flush the Meter boxes in.
We were flat out for 3 months, same old thing every day.
Got really good at stripping Neutral-Screened cable though!.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#139518 - 11/30/03 06:05 AM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
Various trials of remote meter reading have been done here in areas where it's difficult to gain access to meters and where they can't be located outdoors. The system has never really been rolled out but I suspect as more competition comes on stream here utilities will try to reduce costs so it will become more main stream.

The meter either sends a signal back along the local power lines to equipment that transmits it back via whatever telecommunications system is in use or each meter is kitted out with a GSM unit and a SIM card and just sends a text message (SMS) with the meter details every so often.

These systems will once again make meter location irrelavant as long as it's in a safe place.

I have never understood why a meter could not be developed with a simple, small flush fitted display that could be read from outside but that was remote from the meter. e.g. connected physically using signaling cables or wirelessly. The meter reader could either read them the old fashoned way or use IR/Bluetooth to read them electronically

The PoCo tamper seals could be replaced / suplemented with electronic equivilants as are used in many alarm systems. E.g. if you open the meter enclosure, remove any of the covers a signal is sent out to the PoCo via remote meter reading or the display located outside warns the meter reader that tampering has occured.

A small, neat IP rated service fuse/switch could also be located outside without the need for the bulky metering cabinates should the PoCo need to disconnect the service without entering the premisis.

Or alternatively the metering system could have an ability to cut the power supply via a remote command.

[This message has been edited by djk (edited 11-30-2003).]

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#139519 - 12/09/03 02:16 PM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
classicsat Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/02
Posts: 449
In some jurisdictions in Canada, the water is metered that way, either by a human readable
odometer type meter, or by some non-conductive
pickup.

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#139520 - 12/09/03 03:09 PM Re: Cheap "Re-wires"!
djk Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 1269
Loc: Ireland
Due to massive public opposition our water is neither meter nor charged for in domestic situations. Only business users who would actually use a lot of water have to pay. E.g. an electrical shop wouldn't get a water meter where as a restaurant would.

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