This bakelite switch was likely installed when the property was built in the 1960's, suprisingly it is in great working condition and actually works better than many much newer switches we have replaced. It is however time for an upgrade.
Modern copies of this switch are available should it take your fancy though!
This consumer unit had been fitted within 6 months of when we found it. It has no less than 4 different makes of devices within it from new. It was installed to replace an older unit, but no testing appears to have been done and the MCB's have not been identified, what do those two switches on the right operate?
No certificate was provided, upgrading of cables had not been done and to make matters worse, any of the light switches in the house could become live under fault conditions and the first the householder would know is when they received an electric shock. This job has been carried out without certification under Part P of the building regulations and one can only assume this is because the "electrician" was not skilled let alone qualified.
The homeowner reported the shower was not working, this overheated switch is what we found when undertaking a visual inspection.
This was found before any serious damage was done. Regular testing of your electrical installation is recommended to help identify issues such as these before they can cause injury or even a fire.
This is a common occurence, the joint box lid has been broken in the loft. At the time this was installed, it was acceptable to join the earth wires around the outside of the joint box. They should of course now be contained within the box. We replaced the box and included the earth wires within it. If you have joint boxes like these, there is not nescessarily an urgent need to get them replaced as long as they are not damaged, although a thorough check of your wiring is recommended to ensure the remainder of the installation is safe.
Remember just because fuses are not blowing does not ensure your wiring is safe.
These fuseboxes have had many alterations over their life, unfortunately during this time the casings have been damaged through poor termination as well as wear & tear.
An unaware adult or small children could insert fingers or objects into these excessive sized holes and make contact with live parts. These are being replaced with a new fully compliant consumer unit with RCD protection and MCB's instead of the old rewireable fuses found within these old units.
Plug in connectors within Reverse Osmosis equipment have overheated and damaged the insulation and connector. This may have been caused by a loose connection or simply under rated plugs and sockets. Regular maintenance on this equipment that runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week meant that this was spotted and rectified before further damage was done. If left unchecked it is likely the insulation would have melted further and a short circuit would have occured causing an unplanned shutdown of the equipment.
A good example of regular inspection & testing preventing damage to equipment, buildings and maintaining optimum uptime.
This client realised that there was a 'slight' shortage of sockets in their lounge. In the 1980's when this property was built, we just didn't have so many devices that needed to be plugged in all the time.
Times have changed and you may be suprised to learn that it is now recommended that a typical lounge/living area should have 8-10 sockets, that is 8-10 double sockets not 4-5 doubles - many older houses or rewired on a budget homes are still very short of points leading to overloaded sockets and extension leads.
You can see to the left of the socket we have cut a hole ready to fit another double socket.
We originally attended this property because all the power would go off and the client was unable to restore power. We inspected the setup and found this, which is the main supply to the house. It consists of a rusty switchfuse fed by an old voltage operated trip. On closer inspection and a bit of testing we found the trip which is outdated and did not work at all plus the main earth to the house, besides being undesized was not even connected at this end! We also found it was wired in split concentric cable which is not suitable for use in a consumers installation.
Further searching found a single RCD trip which controlled the entire house, which did work but supplied the house and many outbuildings, meaning the slightest issue caused all power to be lost.
We have now replaced the contents of this cupboard, on the boundary of the property and run a new armoured cable to the house where a new distribution board protects all new cabling to each outbuilding and two new consumer units within the house. RCD protection is now provided by RCBO's to individual circuits, meaning a single fault only shuts off a small area of the house which can be traced and rectified quite easily by the client. In addition to this, nuisance tripping has since been completely eliminated.
Before and after pictures of this cupboard are on the Our Work page
This very carefully made wooden box complete with dovetail joints is typically found in older homes behind your light switches. The switch pictured is the same age as the box, they were installed in the 1950's & 1960's often with rubber cables which contain no CPC (earth wire). If you have switches like this one (this is an MK switch which were and still are very popular) it is likely your lighting wiring may need rewiring.
If there is no CPC in your wiring, you cannot safely have Class 1 (usually metal) switches or light fittings because under fault conditions the metal parts can become live and will not blow a fuse or trip out.
We were called out to the property where this was installed due to a burning smell (sometimes described as a fishy smell!).
A quick visual inspection revealed that the ring main fuse had overheated and melted the fuse carrier (red part) and the plastic structure that holds the fuse connections in place. We immediatly moved the affected circuit to a spare fuse to prevent further overheating and arranged to carry out a full inspection and test after replacing the consumer unit. The existing consumer unit did not provide RCD protection or the close protection provided by MCB's, so an upgrade was overdue in any case.
The tenant who used this shower reported no hot water and a burning smell to their landlord.
On our arrival we found the shower hot to the touch, still switched on and a smell of burning as the cover was removed, although it had not been used for 24hrs. You can see in the black boxes on the picture that the incoming line (live-red) cable has melted insulation at the top right and to the left there is significant molten plastic parts plus a possible leak from the bottom of the heater bottle, the outlet hose connector at the bottom has also snapped off
If you suspect an appliance is malfunctioning, turn it off or unplug it until it has been checked properly. An electric shower like this should have a switch outside the bathroom or a pullcord switch nearby, this will isolate it from the mains supply
Each time the dishwasher was used, within 20 minutes there was a smell of burning in the kitchen. While searching for the fault, we started the dishwasher after finding no immediate issues when testing the wiring. After a few minutes smoke started pouring out of this socket. What was not expected was that this socket had nothing plugged into it and was the other end of the room from the dishwasher!
Once isolated and inspected, we discovered that the socket connections were loose and the over heating was caused by the load of the dishwasher flowing through the loose connection. The wiring in the house had not been tested within the last 10 yrs
Good reason to ensure smoke alarms are working and that your electrical installation is tested at the recomended intervals. If you move in to a property and there is no sticker on or near the consumer unit stating when it was last tested and recommended next test date, its unlikely to have been tested within a reasonable period as the testing requires the inspector to leave this sticker. If you are a tenant, your landlord should have regular inspection and testing carried out and provide you with a copy of the most recent certificate, wiring should be inspected on each change of tenant.