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#144503 - 12/13/05 04:54 AM Fires Caused by Electricity
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Guys,
Have a read of this page I happened to stumble upon tonight.
It's from the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors (Much like a Home Inspector in the US).
I can't say I agree with the last paragraph under that house fire photo though.
Here's the link here .

Your comments please?.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#144504 - 12/13/05 09:13 AM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
 Quote:
In an older house, if he touches the existing fuseboard, he may be obliged to upgrade it. But the owners, unwilling to pay for this expense, may encourage him to find an alternative, resulting in his looping the powerpoint into an existing circuit, rather than running a new cable back to the switchboard. This is obeying the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, and it certainly does happen.


Looks like an example of how the law might actually be making things worse.

Quite frankly, in a situation like that my attitude would be to ignore the regulations and do whatever I consider best from an overall safety viewpoint.

Those statistics at the top of the page look a little suspect to me. Electrical fires due to shorts/earth faults jumped from 13 in 1995/96 to over 800 the following year?
The corresponding drop in the "other" figures suggests that maybe the method of classification changed.

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#144505 - 12/13/05 07:33 PM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Paul,
 Quote:
Looks like an example of how the law might actually be making things worse.

Oh you've got that right.
Most electricians here have the brains to know what is safe and what is not.
IMHO, the last sentence on that site is totally mis-leading:
 Quote:
Ensure you are employing a Registered Electrician, and make sure the Certificate cover(s) the whole house.

There is no way that I would certify a whole house, had I not performed the work on it myself, or without extensive use of a Megger and Visual Inspections of the wiring.
For a start, you have no idea who has worked on the place in the past, if we were conned into certifying the whole place, we could be covering for all sorts of DIY liabilities.
A COC is a legally binding document, a surveyors report is not.
To suggest that us Electricians will blindly fill out COC's is just stupid.

Yes Paul, I'm only concerned with the safety of the public, if I take a wee bit longer, who really cares?.
I'd sooner be recognised for doing a good job.

 Quote:
Those statistics at the top of the page look a little suspect to me. Electrical fires due to shorts/earth faults jumped from 13 in 1995/96 to over 800 the following year?
The corresponding drop in the "other" figures suggests that maybe the method of classification changed.

Paul,
I can tell you on good authority, that between the years of 1994 and 1996 the FIRS (Fire Incident Reporting System) was in a shambles.
It was all transferred onto a new computer system.
It works properly now which is a tad relieving.
Now if we could just get the Radio system working prop...........
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#144506 - 12/14/05 12:36 AM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
kiwi Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/04
Posts: 347
Loc: christchurch new zealand
The NZ Institute of Building Surveyors seem to be urging NZ homeowners to request certification of the whole house from a Sparky that has just done a minor wiring addition.

In older houses where there is old conduit or rubber wiring, doing a full survey and certifying the old uncertified wiring is quite a major job. And Expense !

I'm all for getting old wiring made code compliant, but the Homeowners have to realise that its a seperate job that can be done anytime. Not just when they have an electrician do a small addition.

NZIBS would be better to outline to home owners the risk of uncertified wiring. And doing some research on what it costs to have it made certified.

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#144507 - 12/14/05 06:15 AM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Certifying for the whole house when only something very minor has been done would increase the time and expense no end.

Suppose you were called to put up some fancy light fixture in place of an existing one. What would you check? Condition of the wiring, earth continuity, loop impedance to that fitting, switching in the phase, proper overcurrent protection for that circuit at the board, and that the new fitting won't be placing too much load on the existing lighting circuit maybe.

Now extend that to a major inspection and test of the whole house and you've just turned that job into a whole day's work and more.

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#144508 - 12/14/05 06:52 PM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Hmm,
I just worked out what that first picture on that page was, it looks like one of them new plastic fronted switch-boards, with MCB's in it.
Kiwi,
I agree, having a house with new non-compliant wiring in it, could be just as bad as having old wiring, from a safety perspective.

Paul,
 Quote:
Suppose you were called to put up some fancy light fixture in place of an existing one. What would you check? Condition of the wiring, earth continuity, loop impedance to that fitting, switching in the phase, proper overcurrent protection for that circuit at the board, and that the new fitting won't be placing too much load on the existing lighting circuit maybe.

Biggest nuisance I've come across here when doing a job like that is the lack of an Earth conductor at the light fitting, the old light fitting (usually a plastic batten-holder) having been fed by a 2-core TPS cable.
But yes, my checks would be along them lines though.
As a matter of course, I remove the individual porcelain fuse carriers, when I'm at a switch-board just to make aure the fuses are the correct size.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#144509 - 12/15/05 02:03 AM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
RODALCO Offline
Member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 863
Loc: Titirangi, Akld, New Zealand
When doing a new circuit or addition I detail exactly on the COC what work was done, number the fuses and quote that on the COC form.

I will tell the owner that there is old wiring which may require upgrading sooner or later and also write that on the COC.
( seen old wiring on other circuits and notified owner )

I have struck a couple of times that a new powerpoint was looped to older wiring and the rewirable fuse replaced with an MCB to avoid having to fit a ELCB.

Re fires - I find that a lot of people and businesses leave equipment always on standby or just switched on all the time, like computers.
The capacitors will age a lot faster and could cause a fire.

Also a lot of multiboards are used with these horrible plugpacks, some of them run quite hot to the touch. They are hidden behind a desk and often covered with all sorts of junk and can easily overheat and start a fire.
_________________________
The product of rotation, excitation and flux produces electricty.

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#144510 - 12/18/05 01:39 AM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Ray,
The use of Certificates of Compliance has got me into really hot water before today.
you mentioned put down on it everything you do.
I was rang on my cellphone at 1730 one night when I was still at work, a guy 40km away was complaining of no hot water.
I told him I'd be there within the hour.
I get after trying to find the house and it's the most over-grown with vines house I've ever seen in my life.
The element had blown and I had to drain the cylinder manually (Plumbers reading here NB: Put a darn Drain cock on your cylinders!!).
I got soaked with cold water and the guy never even offered to help.
Cylinder drained I replaced the element and refilled the cylinder, then the guy came back out from his lounge.
"while you're here, can you have a look at a few things here?"
This question really rubs me up the wrong way at the best of times.
He said he'd had problems with his wiring and wanted it looked at and wanted a power point replaced in the hallway.
I opened the old power point up and was greeted with a White-tailed Spider and old TRS cable, in a state that I can only describe as lethal to any occupants of the house.
I sleeved the ends of the cable and blanked off the socket, with a blank plate and informed the guy that his house needed a re-wire ASAP.
I checked the switch-board and the wiring was worse there, someone had had a good (recent) go at it.
I left and went home, I wrote the following on the COC that night:
Changed 1x Hot Water Cylinder Element, Meggered old one, Open Circuit.
Asked by Owner of premises to replace socket-outlet in hallway, could not do so, because of condition of wiring, made wiring safe and disconnected at supplying switch-board.
Upon removing switch-board cover, to disconnect former circuit, noticed a large number of recent non-compliant joins in wiring, I have advised the client to get these issues attended to as soon as is practicable
Have also contacted the local Supply Authority Inspector to further invesigate

Guys, I don't want to come across here as a "big meanie", it is my job as an Electrician to advise people of electrical hazards.
The guy got the invoice a week later and read my COC (Goes out with the Bill), he stormed into work, he wanted blood so I'm told, I wasn't there at the time.
I did get called into the Boss' office though, he wanted an explanation, how dear I treat HIS customers with such dissent.
I just said I told the truth and walked out.
BTW, I went back to this house 6 months later, as a Fire Officer, we were backing up the Methven Fire Brigade, the house was a total loss even before they got there.
it shut my Boss up though, LOL!.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#144511 - 12/19/05 01:44 PM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
RODALCO Offline
Member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 863
Loc: Titirangi, Akld, New Zealand
Good on you Trumpy, It is like opening a can of worms in those places.
You asked to do one job, then tehy ask : can you have a look at this and that and it turns from bad to worse.

I would do exactly the same, isolate the cct, put all work done temporarely on the COC and tell a local inspector.

A shame that the place had to burn down before action was taken.

By the way Trumpy I'm a station officer in Titirangi.

Have a great christmas and a safe 2006.
_________________________
The product of rotation, excitation and flux produces electricty.

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#144512 - 12/19/05 06:56 PM Re: Fires Caused by Electricity
wa2ise Offline
Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 771
Loc: Oradell NJ USA
Heard something on the news of a bad fire in a hospital in China. Seems they're blaming an electrician who did work there recently. No mention of what he was accused of specifically (bad wiring workmanship? Unrelated arson? ?) Anyone hear of this?

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