I've been working for an electrical company for three weeks now, and last Friday, when we thought work for that thay was over my mate rceived a phone call from the secretary. "The bakers guild lost power to some office sockets and lights after plugging in a vac!" Well, seemed to be easy. The house had lots of subpanels added, so we thought they had just been looking in the wrong panel. Got there (really nice, it's great to be in an 18. century brick building when it's baking hot outside!!!), opened the correct panel... all breakers up. Cripes. Started checking various Neozed fuses, all good. Looked for a subpanel where that circuit could have been fused. Nothing. So we figured it was time to start tracing the circuit. Opening the first box showed us a mess of mostly black PVC and cloth wires almost popping out of the overstuffed box, only a few choc blocks, mostly twisted and taped splices. Checked a few connections by unwrapping the tape and holding the Duspol up to the wires, all good. Second and third box: same game. Fourth box: looked like only cloth wires, no PVC at all. My mate up on the ladder started pulling the wires out of the box when I suddenly heard several loud "pop" noises and saw the sparks flying inside the box. His only comment: "Got it!" Using needle nose pliers now he proceeded to get the old wires out and found a completely cooked neutral splice. The once grey PVC wire that had been spliced to the cloth wire was black for at least 5cm, the end bare, the wooden box showed signs of either scorching or at least smoke from the burning PVC. Taped the wires, put in a strip connector (choc block) and put the cover back on. At some point all that will have to be rewired, but right now they're refusing to do so. Some circuits for computers have been added in surface trunking, everything else is a mix of roughly 1900 to 1970.
Tex., Old solid buildings are cooler in a heat-wave. Our walls are solid granite, 2 ft 3" thick (675mm)at base and taper going up. The trick is to keep the doors shut and the windows shuttered/blinds drawn to exclude direct sunshine, which is why French houses appear 'shut up' in Summer. Disadvantage sets in when you need to drill a hole for wiring or plumbing access, since it's like cutting armour plate! I've got a technique- I take out a big stone, roughly at the location, break up and rake out the core rubble with a jackhammer, then push out the opposite stone with a wooden drift and a sledgehammer. The construction locally in Mayenne defies belief, but the mortar is just pure red clay. No cement, no lime or gypsum. Our house was built 330 + years ago so the method works ok. The rain didn't wash it all out long ago as mosses grew as 'pointing'in the gaps. Nowadays, the insurance company demands cement mortar pointing- pollution stunted all the mosses, and sadly any abandoned farm buildings without a roof dissolve to a pile of rocks in just a few years.
PS. Your baker's guild may get a rude awakening when the building catches fire. Foreknowedge and omission to act on a hazardous fault may negate their insurance. Tell them, it might get you some work! Alan
The construction locally in Mayenne defies belief, but the mortar is just pure red clay. No cement, no lime or gypsum.
Same here... except it's yellow clay. For that reason (and many others!) I love old buildings!
Well... I'm not the guy who deals with them, I only do the work, but I heard the secrataries and whoever else moan only at the thought of having the offices renovated, and they seem to have quite some impact there. I have no idea about the insurance, but the most common policy with wiring of that kind is just to repair and repair until a complete rewire absolutely can't be avoided any more. We just told them to use the rewired circuits for the vacuum cleaner from now on! According to my mate the splice was actually made by somebody from our company years ago, if not decades... Anyway, it's a holiday job and it's my last week, so it doesn't really bother me. Just wanted to share some of the usual every day problems here.
Back to the bakers guild: I think they got the first floor completely and most of the ground floor rewired already, the main panel is brand new, only three or four offices and the hallways on the ground floor are left with the ancient wiring. Some of that seems to have been replaced in the 70ies (like the failed splice... the incoming cloth wire was spliced to PVC wire with 60ies color coding in PVC conduit...)
Regarding thick walls: I also did some work at the main court house (built around 1850 I guess), and even up at the fourth floor the walls are 1 1/2 m thick! The new house I had the rough in today has much thinner walls... I think 30 cm hollow core bricks with 8cm styrofoam on the outside.
Are the toggles up in thier "on" position in European countries?. We have the same thing down here, but we also have a bit of US referenced equipment here as well, Industrial Air Circuit-Breakers spring to mind, they point down. A trap for young players. One word I would like to contribute to this thread though is "Trouble-shooting". Trouble-shooting is not something that you can be taught. You have to learn it on your own. Your senses of smell and sight (please for God sakes don't try tasting anything!), will hold you in good stead. On the same side of the coin, knowing what you are looking for is a HUGE bonus.