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As A Trainee Electrican Do I Have A Duty To Change A Dangerous Situation If I Feel Competent To Do So?


dannkaz

Question

Hi my name is Danny, I am 29 and ive had experience working on building sites since the age of 13, I've always taken a interest in electrical work and electricians I have worked alongside and have gained a lot of self taught skills and knowledge. I've now just completed my C&G level 2 and am continuing onto the level 3 in September.

My parents in law have recently had an extension fitted and have been having problems with bulbs popping and lights flickering once switched off. last week I was asked if I could extend a double socket in their garage, so I isolated the MCB on the consumer unit to the garage but when I tested I found live running through the neutral. I went back to the consumer unit to double check my isolation to discover that the electrician that had installed the extension had crossed the polarity to the consumer unit.

As this was family and I had found this problem I swapped them round which solved their problems but my question is should I have of left them as they were or did I do right to change them. I felt I had a duty to ensure they were safe as this is my family and it was unpaid work. I have informed them they need to contact the company whom performed the original work and request a inspection and testing certificate for their work carried out as I feel this could not have been done as the fault would have been detected.

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Hi thanks for you replies,

 

It was not a new build it was a extension wet room on to the house, built for a elderly disabled relative. From distribution i found live to live neutral to neutral and earth to earth fine once the new install was disconnected. From the wiring to the extension they had unmarked grey cable in a junction box  and live and neutral from distribution to CU wrong way round.

 

So live was still live but also neutral was live throughout the whole property and external buildings.

 

I have told family they need to get a recertification and follow up the appropriate paper work from the first installation.

 

Thanks for your replies but i was just worried as a trainee electrician if it was anybody elses property i would have isolated and contacted a registered sparky. as it was family with disabled grandmother involved and i felt competent to rectify the issue i carried out the work.

 

I was in this situation as i am not quaified but felt i morally i could not leave such a dangerous situation.

 

As i have learnt in college this mistake should have been picked upon final testing correct?

 

what certificates should homeowner have been given following the installation as it was a add on extension

 

thanks danny

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 From distribution i found live to live neutral to neutral and earth to earth fine once the new install was disconnected. From the wiring to the extension they had unmarked grey cable in a junction box  and live and neutral from distribution to CU wrong way round.

 

So live was still live but also neutral was live throughout the whole property and external buildings.

 

Don't understand the bit in bold.

 

What was this "unmarked grey cable" and what was a junction box doing in the submain?

 

Whoever installed it should have issued an EIC with all the test results. If he had properly tested it he would have found the fault, so I suspect it was never tested and no certificate was ever issued.

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I didn't get that bit either...

Maybe he's disconnected the neutral and then tested it live ?????

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sorry for the confusion. Basically when i first tested the CU without altering anything neutral was live. I w ill take a picture of the install on monday  and then maybe i can explain it more clear, also there is no tamper tags on the main ditro fuse or the "junction box" from the meter to the CU which i found strange. Im only a student but dont you need permission or consent to remove the distro side tamper tags?

 

thanks Danny

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sorry for the confusion. Basically when i first tested the CU without altering anything neutral was live. I w ill take a picture of the install on monday  and then maybe i can explain it more clear, also there is no tamper tags on the main ditro fuse or the "junction box" from the meter to the CU which i found strange. Im only a student but dont you need permission or consent to remove the distro side tamper tags?

 

thanks Danny

 

Even when im trying to make clearer i make no sense lol.

 

Maybe this will make it a bit better to understand. Dont forget im only a student lol.

 

live and neutral was live in the consumer unit.

 

neutral was also still neutral because they were fed into a junction box from the meter with the new install.

 

i will take some pictures on monday as i know it must be frustrating when im trying to explain from memory

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Live was live and neutral was live - really?

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Live was live and neutral was live - really?

 

 Exactly why i was worried.  the only way i could isolate live from neutral was the main rcd in the CU. If i turned off all mcbs to all circuits on the property live still was running through neutral

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Okay the mystery grey cable in a junction box was the meter tails into a Henley block then?

 

Are you saying he got them the wrong way round to the new CU. If so clearly no testing done.

 

And it looks like the seal fairy paid a visit.

 

Some DNO's will allow you to cut the seal. Some will some and disconnect / reconnect. Some will fit an isolator. Some SNO's even fit meters with a built in isolator switch.

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Okay the mystery grey cable in a junction box was the meter tails into a Henley block then?

 

Are you saying he got them the wrong way round to the new CU. If so clearly no testing done.

 

And it looks like the seal fairy paid a visit.

 

Some DNO's will allow you to cut the seal. Some will some and disconnect / reconnect. Some will fit an isolator. Some SNO's even fit meters with a built in isolator switch.

Sorry about how ive explained everything but it sounds like you understand what i mean now. Yes the meter tailings from the Henley block to the CU were crossed (i love learning:) ). Because the connections from the Henley block were non colour coded or marked in any way that is how im guessing the installer made the mistake. Blue cable into the Henley block for the Extension was wired to tailings going to live into the CU. Same for brown from extension went to neutral in CU.

 

I hope im not confusing the topic anymore:)

No isolater before meter just fuse pulled

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Don't rely on the colours of the tails for polarity..... many meter monkeys just use one colour and label it...... then the labels fall off!!

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Don't rely on the colours of the tails for polarity..... many meter monkeys just use one colour and label it...... then the labels fall off!!

There was no colours on the tails, thats my point and summary of the installers failure. Although that should have been picked up in final testing ?

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There was no colours on the tails, thats my point and summary of the installers failure. Although that should have been picked up in final testing ?

Tails often have a grey outer sheath. You don't see the colour of the core unless you strip the sheath back a bit.

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Your description is a bit confusing but I think you did the right thing , you spotted the fault , which the installer didn't , and  you corrected it .

 

You may have saved the life of a DIYer  who thought  : -  

 

I'll move this socket myself.

I'll switch off the breaker marked "Downstairs plugs"

I'll now grasp the neutral & the earths in each hand .

I'm now receiving a powerful electric shock. !

My heart is now defribulating and my brain is frying.

I am being taken away in big zip-up body bag.

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Your description is a bit confusing but I think you did the right thing , you spotted the fault , which the installer didn't , and  you corrected it .

 

You may have saved the life of a DIYer  who thought  : -  

 

I'll move this socket myself.

I'll switch off the breaker marked "Downstairs plugs"

I'll now grasp the neutral & the earths in each hand .

I'm now receiving a powerful electric shock. !

My heart is now defribulating and my brain is frying.

I am being taken away in big zip-up body bag.

100% correct except you missed:

 

"I'll plug a table lamp in and confirm it goes out when I turn off the "downstairs sockets" therefore I know it's dead and safe to touch."

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So did the DIYer  Dave . ;)

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It's all down to competence......

 

If you feel that you are competent to identify/diagnose and rectify any problems (and then confirm that you've then you have done it correctly by testing) then you've done the right thing,,,,, If you can't then you should have just told them of your concerns and advised them to get them looked at

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As a 'normal' job you would have a duty of care to report any dangerous siuation and make it secure but not rectify it.

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So the whole house was wrong polarity?

 

I think you were right to correct it.

 

Was it a new house or a recent CU change? I would be looking to give whoever fitted the CU a rocket so he's at least aware he messed up.

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I wonder if the bloke that wrote out the cert actually visited site!

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test

thanks danny

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