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Lead sleeved cable - yes or no?

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by steve28, 21 Feb 2009.

  1. steve28

    steve28

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    Hi

    My mum has an old flat and the kitchen light cable is the old lead coated sleeve with two wires. As there is no earth wire, is it practice to use the sleeve as earth, attaching a wire to that, or if not , should a plastic light fitting be used?

    Its a ground floor flat so replacing the wiring is going to be difficult but it will need to be done eventually.
     
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  3. electronicsuk

    electronicsuk

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    Best practice is to leave it alone completely, simply disturbing it could cause the insulation to break down, which will likely leave you with a L/N-E short, which could be especially bad is the sheath is poorly earthed.

    If you really must attach anything to it, use a double insulated fitting, but I still wouldn't recommend touching it.
     
  4. flameport

    flameport

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    Difficult or not, that wiring need replacing NOW.

    Lead covered wiring had a lifespan of 25-30 years maximum.
    It hasn't been made for at least 50 years.
     
  5. steve28

    steve28

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    Thanks guys.

    Situation re replacing the wiring is ongoing dispute with landlord. Health and safety involved.

    Right now though the previous metal strip light was removed due to ceiling replacement, and not replaced "due to wiring" so now there is a very small lamp fitted. This is insufficient light for the room size. So, I wanted to fit a brighter lamp and looked at fitting either an earth strap or a plastic strip light ie one that didnt have a metal case.

    Eventually the landlord will have to rewire, but for now having a 40w bulb where a twin 58w strip was is insufficient.

    As to why the cable was not replaced when the ceiling was down - its a long story.....
     
  6. ericmark

    ericmark

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    Although the lead is often used as an earth it is not used by the electrician but by the supply authority who would make the connection if appropriate.
    What you need to do is ring up the supply authority (Not billing agent) and ask them what type of supply you should have.
    They do not have to give you an earth, however they do need to tell you what earthing system is to be used.
    Often they do not know, and will have to send someone out to find out. Normally they will if the ELI permits then provide you with an earth.
    It is important to ask right question. If you ask for an earth, they will tell you they don't have to provide one, and may be tell you a charge for providing one. However if you ask what type of earth should I have, you will often get it FOC.
    It the ELI is not good enough to provide you with an earth then you will need to use an earth spike. A couple of years ago one would also then need to fit a RCD of appropriate size normally 100ma S type (delayed) but with new regulations now it would be better to fit twin RCD's or more at 30ma that will trip within 40ms.
    Because of Part P requirement this will need either a registered electrician or a payment to the council in my area £115 since it presents a danger until done it would I think be counted as an emergency so you can I think in this case notify after the event but I would say unless you are an electrician and if you were you would not ask this question you would be far better off getting a registered electrician to do the work, as he will have the skill and meters to fit an earth rod and test it.
    As to using plastic switches this is only for when no earth is supplied to lighting and in your case you are saying no earth is supplied at all so it is not an appropriate cure in your case.
    The only reason why you would consider paying council is if you can't get a registered electrician to do the work under Part P but you are able to get an industrial electrician to do the work who would not be registered.
    Hopefully the supply authority will provide you with an earth although they may at the same time highlight other faults like under size cables.
     
  7. electronicsuk

    electronicsuk

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    Ericmark, I think you may have understood the OP. He does not mention whether or not there is an earth at the supply head (although presumably there is), as his question relates to the wiring within the house lacking an earth conductor.
     
  8. ericmark

    ericmark

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    Between starting to write and completing the other replies appeared and your answer.
    Once you have said it is not your property then it all changes. The land lord should have the property inspected and tested on every change of tenant or every 10 years.
    The missing earth on any main feed into the house should have been picked up at that time.
    If it is not main feed but feed to lights that should have also been picked up. But the person doing the PIR as it's called does not have to give you a copy only has to supply the report to person ordering the work i.e. land lord.
    The rules refer to reasonable time but don't say what that time is and although your land lord needs to correct the question as to when is hard to answer.
    I had a property I worked on where just the lights had no earth and I tried to find a florescent fitting with the [​IMG] marking and failed but since then I have been told some of the 2D fitting are so marked and go up to 28W which is about best you can get.
     
  9. ericmark

    ericmark

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    Yes sorry I had miss read I did not expect to see any property still with lead wiring that must be pre-war and very old. I would not touch and as an electrician I would want to do a full re-wire or nothing.
    Having said that to do a full re-wire takes time and is not something one can slip in as an emergency job and I would expect it could take 6 months to arrange with an electrician for work to start plus there is the disruption.
    There is an issue with health and safety in doing a rewire with tenants still in the house.
    I have known landlords who have asked tenants to leave in order to undertake a full re-wire and for tenants to complain too much could be counter productive and they could find themselves homeless.
    Although there are very few ways a landlord can evict a tenant the house being unfit for human inhabitation is one of the reasons so I would be very careful in getting involved where the results can be so catastrophic.
     
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  11. steve28

    steve28

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    Yep - the CU does have an earth. It appears to have been replaced sometime in the 80's by the look of it. The wiring however in the flat is a mix of T&E and Lead twin. Specifically the kitchen is lead, where the problem is.

    Its possible of course that an earth cable is in the ceiling and the contractors that fitted the new ceiling didnt pull it back down. All thats poking out is the twin lead cable. The two wires are quite long, so it would be possible to use them in a strip, so until the landlord rewires, I wanted to fit a better light.

    So, based on the advice "don't mess with it ifu don't need to" I think the best solution in the interim is to fit a double insulated unit.

    I,m not a sparky, but I am competant and posted here to get advice from experts which as usual has been very helpful.

    I will take a fluke along and check to see if the sleeve has continuity, but I doubt it.

    Ericmark - thanks for your detailed response. yes the Flat is rented and M-I-L has been in it since the 50's. We are in dispute with the landlord to get it rewired and they have been notified by H&S but it drags on.
    Meanwhile I'm going on a hunt for a DI Strip light.
     
  12. ericmark

    ericmark

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    As you will have seen I realise now it is a tricky situation I would suggest you read ESC Best Practice Guide No.1 click here for link it may help you.
    I think 28W 2D fitting is about the best you will get. Maybe use two? I did look at plastic strip lights but although plastic they did not have the double insulated mark so I could not use. I will guess as the cover is clipped on and removing cover without a tool exposed metal parts.
     
  13. steve28

    steve28

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    ericmark

    Thanks again for the time you took to respond. Ill def look at the link you supplied.

    I have tested all the sockets previously with a martindale, so I know earth exists within the property, just doesn't show visibly on the light in question.

    For now, safest option is a proper DI strip etc so thats what ill hunt for.

    Thanks again to everyone.
     
  14. Albert

    Albert

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    Just to add: when testing X5 Idn.
     
  15. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    If the land lord is being difficult just remind him that all scrap metal is getting good prices, all that lovely pricey lead laying around in his house that he could sell as scrap.....( if he gets it before the electrician sells it. )

    But seriously it needs to be dealt with. old lead cable is bad news when any work is carried out near it. Crumbly insulation that falls out of the lead sheath when disturbed is only one of the problems with it.
     
  16. Taylortwocities

    Taylortwocities

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    In days of yore the earth was provided to sockets but not to lighting (most fittings then were bakelite etc )

    Even if the lead sheath does provide an earth you should not rely on it. There's nothing to stop someone patching in a bit of PVC cable in the future and then away goes your earth.

    BTW re the 10year/change of tenant thing. Thats guidance from IEE/IET and not law.
    There is no statutory obligation on landlords or agents to have professional checks carried out on the electrical system or appliances. However, under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, both of which come under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, there is an obligation to ensure that all electrical equipment is safe.

    More info at http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/electrical_safety.htm but it sounds like you know about this, already??
     
  17. xerxes

    xerxes

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    If you have one or two socket outlets spare in the kitchen, my suggestion would be to get a couple of portable fluorescent lights, hang them from high points on the walls and plug them in; if there is a socket near the door, this avoids having to walk across a dark room to switch the lights on. This should get you through until the rewiring can be done.

    As others have said, don't even consider using the lead-sheathed cable.
     
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