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Earth connected to live

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by Johnboy54, 14 May 2021.

  1. Johnboy54

    Johnboy54

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    Hi.
    Without too much personal info could you advise me what would happen in the following situation.

    An electrician of many years experience changed an old fuse board for a new metal one with rcd's etc.
    2 days later the customer claimed they had got a shock from the sink. They also claimed the concrete kitchen floor was 'red hot'.
    They got a friend to come out who said the earth had been connected alongside the live terminal at the mains incoming supply.
    The electrician is totally distraught. They have never had a complaint.
    This could have a major effect on their business.
    They are adamant they didn't leave it like that.
    The customer is refusing to pay.

    As far as I know if an earth touches live it blows the fuse or trips the box.
    If the earth were in the live then the electrician should at least have got a shock when they touched the metal box to close the lid after restoring power?
    I think this woman is just wanting to get out of paying.

    So, is it possible for this fault to be there for 2 days without tripping or blowing a fuse?

    Many thanks
     
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  3. RobTi

    RobTi

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    Is it not standard practice to leave a test sheet after doing electrical work ?
     
  4. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    Does this friend have any formal electrical training or qualifications?
    Any pics?
    If there are no metal services (gas, water) connected to the house then yes it is possible for the house 'earth' to be live without blowing a fuse (if the house is electrically isolated from the world then the earth is just another set of conductors, as long as there is no connection to the world then no current will flow & thus no breakers will trip.
    Me being suspicious i'd suspect an attempt at power theft gone wrong (by the householder).
    Your theoretical electrician would be wise to get back to the house with a witness with a camera (solicitor or similar) and test the earthing to determine whether a fault current would flow under the alleged circumstances.
     
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  5. dannyboi2003

    dannyboi2003

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    It's possible that their friend is seeing the main earth connected to the PME terminal on the suppliers cut-out and asumming it's a 'live' connection. As 'oldbutnotdead' stated we need pics to confirm. Whilst I've seen some awful work completed by so called qualified electricians I am yet to see one who's connected the main earth to the incoming 'live' supply conductor.
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2021
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  6. Johnboy54

    Johnboy54

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    They've been qualified for 25 years.
    Their own business for 15 years covering domestic, commercial and industrial.
    I'll get back to you about the certificate when I can contact them.
    The thing about the photo is the bottom screw is not screwed in.
    They say they would never leave a screw loose like that.
    That's a good point about returning and retesting.
    Thank you.
     

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  7. oldbutnotdead

    oldbutnotdead

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    Thats a very unlikely mistake to make. If you've got a wider pic that wld be handy, see what length there is on that lump of cpc.
    EDIT The phase and neutral conductors look like nice swept bends, the cpc is just chucked on top. Again looks inconsistent
     
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  8. dannyboi2003

    dannyboi2003

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    Yeah I'm not convinced by that photo either, I'd like to see a wider shot of the associated equipment and consumer unit. I'd be very, very surprised if someone who's been in the trade for 25 years would make that mistake. I'm not saying they didn't I'm just saying it's very unlikely in my opinion.
     
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  9. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    Looks possible that there had been a conductor in the Neutral block


    upload_2021-5-14_14-32-0.png
     
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  11. Johnboy54

    Johnboy54

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    danniboi2003 - No wider pic.
    That's the one sent by the householder's 'electrician'.

    Bernardgreen that's an excellent spot!
    They do look screwed out.
    The installer said they remembered breaking out the top to accept the earth.

    Oldbutnotdead - The gas and water pipes were bonded.
    The point about the swept live and neutral was pointed out to me by the installer.
    They said they would never put a cable straight in without sweeping it over, as per the other two.

    Despite phoning and texting the householder, they have made no reply.
    They have also been asked for the contact details of the 'electrician'.

    Thank you all
     
  12. just pumps

    just pumps

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    Lesson here, take photos before leaving, doesn`t matter if customer see`s you doing so or not.
     
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  13. flameport

    flameport

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    Whoever took that picture has removed the main fuse, and also removed the cover over the neutral terminals.

    If that earth wire is connected to anything at the other end, inserting the fuse into that would cause a severe fault, probably enough to blow the main fuse, and causing arc damage to the fuse holder and those terminals.
    It has not been energised like that for 2 days or even 2 minutes.
     
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  14. Johnboy54

    Johnboy54

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    Thank you to all for your replies, expertise and time.

    To sum up, the general opinion seems to be the householder has 'got it wrong'.

    I take it that because the gas and water ARE bonded, it's not possible for the earth to be live without blowing a fuse, which flameport confirms in his message.

    These are all excellent opinions which will add weight to the installer's belief they did nothing wrong.
    I can tell you they have been in bits and not slept the last couple of days.

    Thank you again
     
    Last edited: 14 May 2021
  15. sparkwright

    sparkwright

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    When I'm working with tails, and I think it's same for most electricians, I NEVER run the thinner earth cable OVER the thicker L&N tails.

    I tend to run the earth cable behind the heavier L&N tails as they keep the earth cable in place.

    If the earth cable is in front of the L&N, it flaps about because it's quite light.

    THE ELECTRICIAN IN QUESTION MAY WORK LIKE THIS, IN WHICH IT LOOKS LIKE IT MAY HAVE BEEN TAMPERED WITH.
     
  16. sparkwright

    sparkwright

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    And another thing, that terminal where the earth wire wrongly is, wouldn't that have had a bung or something over the top of the casing? Otherwise it would have been wide open beforehand.
     
  17. sparkwright

    sparkwright

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    They can sod off anyway, if there is a problem with any work, the correct procedure is to immediately contact the person responsible for the work and get them to fix it straight away, NOT to ask someone else to look at it.
     
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