PME Earth terminal not available & DNO crazies!

B

blownfuse

Hi all,

I've searching around for a while and I always end up here to good advice so I figured why not pop along :)

My situation has arisen from what must be a very common situation: Homeowner (me) wants to install a new hungrier shower and discovers it's a CU can of worms! :rolleyes: :)

The main thing being I've discovered the house has no main earth!

There is no earth coming In or OUT of the old CU other than one which bonds the water. So it's safe to say there's neither a main earth from the service head or an earth spike.

I've decided on full RCBO protected CU but need to get my head around this missing earth and how much it should cost.

It's a PME system as there is a small sticker on the service head (cutout?) saying so but absolutely no earth terminal supplied and I can see no hidden areas where there could be one (covered or not).

I've included a pic in case any of you are familiar with this service head.

*DELETED*

I'm baffled why they would change over to this and not at least supply the earth terminal for the consumer's sparkie to crack on.

I know it's not their responsibility to supply an earth but I figured if they've supplied the PME system then the least they could do is make the earth available otherwise what's the point!

I've phoned the DNO (NEDL) a few times over the past week and this time the women on the emergency line said "we don't deal with electrics" and "I don't have a clue what PME is sir". PMSL. I rang that line because I was playing the "I got no earth in my house" tactic.

I explained that they have supplied an earth into the property but haven't made it available to be used. All I want is it made available to a sparkie and she said "can't they just cut the security wire and pull the fuse out and do it themselves?"!!!

I told here a sparkie wasn't going to touch it as he isn't allowed to. I resisted explaining to her I thought she was either mad or trying to cut costs and refuse everything even if it took ridiculous statements.

There was plenty of arguing the toss but she was convinced it was fine to rip into it :LOL:

Anyway, to cut an epic story long...she reckons we will still need to pay around £160 just to get the earth terminal made available!!!!!

Does this sound right or is her obvious ignorance coming into play again? I'm reading around and it seems some are paying just £30ish to get earth terminals made available in their dormant PME systems.

It's too late on Friday now to ask a different department so I though it's time to join here and ask :)

I'm not even going to bother boring you more with the mission just to upgrade the main fuse! haha :mad:
 
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tell them your meteres turning the wrong way they'll come out soon enough then lol :LOL:
 
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if you don't get success on the phone, I recommend you

(1) Buy an 8-way earth block, and a couple of metres of 16mm G&Y cable. Screw the earth block adjacent to your CU, and (if you know how to do it safely) put one length of G&Y to the earth block in your CU, and leave another length where it will easily reach the service head. Connect any other old earths (may be green, or G&Y, or bare) to this block. Also buy enough 10mm G&Y to reach from this block to your incoming metallic services (usually gas and water, may also be oil and air con pipes) and a bonding clamp to go round each. The cable will cost you in the region of £1/metre and the clamps in the region of 50p each. We can explain how they are fitted. The sooner it is done the better. It is not notifiable work, but if you are having a new CU fitted soon, the electrician will test it.

(2) WRITE A LETTER to the address on your electricity bill, requesting them to connect the main earth cable to their service head, as it is currently not connected. Say that it has a label on it saying it is PME. Say nothing more. Leave the letter very short. Give the cust ref no which is on your bill.

It is my experience that whereas a phone call can be fobbed off, misunderstood or ignored, a letter will be tracked and passed along until it reaches someone competent to deal with it. If he wants or needs more information, he will contact you.

If you post some more pictures showing your CU and the cables around it, we can advise more.

If there was no customer's main bonding cable available when the company fitted the service head, they will obviously not have connected it. Some heads have an external connection, some an internal connection, and some don't have one at all.

As for the main fuse, if it blows, they will replace it. They come out very fast, usually, when this happens. If it blows more than once they will (probably) replace it with a bigger one. Main fuses are extremely hardy and difficult to blow.
 
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B

blownfuse

Hi John,

Many thanks for the advice.

I'd already bought all the correct earth cabling and clamps to do the bonding but never thought to approach them like you say (doing the work first).

It makes complete sense and I'll give it a go for sure!

I knew it was worth my while posting here :D

I will get this sorted over the weekend and let you know how I progress.

Many thanks...
 
B

blownfuse

When working out the best arrangement today (for tomorrows bonding) I decided to do some tinterweb research on the old isolator that's between the meter and the CU. It's been bothering me and I want it replaced (the test button doesn't work and I want a new one if the whole CU is being updated). The DNO said it's "not their problem" (fair enough) but a sparkie would still need the power cut to be able to change it surely!

Anyway...it turns out it's not an isolator but a Crabtree ELCB!

Reading around on here etc it seems it's an old and useless safety device if voltage operated but fine if current operated. I can't tell (I suspect voltage - it's bound to be lol) but I definately need it out.

There's still no earth there. I'll check in the morning to see if the CU has the neutral and earth commoned. :rolleyes:

I'll be replacing it with a nice 100A switch in a small 2 module cu.

Anyway, I took a pic to show and when I was up there I removed the old tatty plastic which must have been left from the old meter being replaced. It revealed that the tails coming out of the meter to the isolator are no more than 5-6mm :eek: :eek: :eek:

*DELETED*

I'm getting more and more sick of this shoddy rubbish as we weren't told about anything in our expensive survey so before I go back to the DNO and tell them my setup is dangerous can someone confirm if I'm right to be concerned or is this p***weak cabling the norm?

I've been sourcing and buying parts lately and I've bought 25mm tails for the isolator to the cu (new one) but never thought the system would be hanging on this (which is surely the EB's side)!!! Grrr! Half of my home kit, like PCs and TVs, have thicker cables than this!!! :evil:

Dam! Another long post lol Just trying to explain why I'm not spotting things in one go! lol :oops:
 
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The tails from the meter do appear to be undersized!
Your Vo ELCB needs to be replaced with modern RCDs, better opting for a new consumer unit with more than one RCD, I suspect it is voltage operated as there appears to be extra wires other than L & N going to it, the single will probably go to an earth rod.
 
B

blownfuse

Hi,

As mentioned in OP there is no earth or earth rod. The wire you see coming out is a very very thin wire just going to the back door and then fresh air.

It will be removed and slung today.

The tails (if they can be called that) are just T&E!

It's not needing to be an RCD...just an isolator as the new CU (which is also mentioned) is fully RCBO on every circuit. But it aint going in until the preceding mess is corrected. :)

The Meter is fairly new so the excuse of predating things is not applicable.

I need to know who is responsible for the tails before the ELCB as the DNO take some convincing to come out.

I'm going to ring them Monday and tell them it's dangerous to get them out.

The mind boggles :)
 
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she said "can't they just cut the security wire and pull the fuse out and do it themselves?"!!!
A perfectly valid question.


I told here a sparkie wasn't going to touch it as he isn't allowed to.
Strictly speaking he's not, but many/most will do just what she suggested.


I resisted explaining to her I thought she was either mad or trying to cut costs and refuse everything even if it took ridiculous statements.
No, basically she was saying "why don't you just do what everyone else does".


There was plenty of arguing the toss but she was convinced it was fine to rip into it :LOL:
Yup.


Anyway, to cut an epic story long...she reckons we will still need to pay around £160 just to get the earth terminal made available!!!!!

Does this sound right or is her obvious ignorance coming into play again? I'm reading around and it seems some are paying just £30ish to get earth terminals made available in their dormant PME systems.
I guess different DNOs have different rates, but TBH £160 as a minimum charge to send someone out doesn't seem unreasonable for a commercial business.


I need to know who is responsible for the tails before the ELCB
You are.

Everything from the outgoing meter terminals onwards is yours.
 
B

blownfuse

Thanks bud.

I'm not commercial though and £160 to just open up and connect to a block is not right. I'm seeing this elsewhere (people being charged far less) so I'm no longer worried.

However, if the meter company have security locked the tails coming out of their meter then a sparkie wouldn't be able to amend that either.

If he did I would be prosecuted as the homeowner. Unless he had some ties to crimp back in ;)

Strictly speaking he's not, but many/most will do just what she suggested.

So the DNO and qualified electricians break their own rules and it's excused but is someone comes on a forum etc and says they're doing a job themselves then everyone goes mad about part this and qualified that (which is fair enough btw)! Eek!

I'm gobsmacked at the attitude of the DNO. Resisting coming out until I mention the sticker is broken and they say "someone will be there in under an hour!". Completely contradicting the "go on...just rip it out" lol

6mm t&e for the whole house when I'm told I need no less than 10mm for the shower alone is mad. Some electricians are a great example of how it should be done (reading around ppl like JohnD and BaS etc) but some are a complete embarrassment to the profession.

I've just been labeling the circuits only to fine the fuse labeled garage is doing the kitchen too from the early 90s extension.
 
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Hi John,

Many thanks for the advice.

I'd already bought all the correct earth cabling and clamps to do the bonding but never thought to approach them like you say (doing the work first).

It makes complete sense and I'll give it a go for sure!

I knew it was worth my while posting here :D

I will get this sorted over the weekend and let you know how I progress.

Many thanks...

i'm In county Durham and your photo shows almost exactly what I had here apart from the PME sticker. Overhead concentric from a pole in the street and no supplied earth. Mine does have a spike ( two as it happens ) and the black wire that went to your back door was possibly attached to a spike at some time. When I had the work done here I asked about the possibility of PME but had no joy. The voltage operated breaker never ever worked at this address because someone had taken an earth wire from the back of a socket to the water pipes thus effectively bypassing the trip completely.
 
B

blownfuse

Hey Gees :D

Maybe they've went around updating at some point in the past. The pole outside our home has earth cables going down it so that may have been part of the upgrade.

It's mad to think the tiny 3mm cable would have been connected to an earth rod as putting in an earth rod must have taken some sort of competence/knowledge so they must have known it would be insufficient.

But it all goes to where there is now a 90s extension (very small one) and I'm now finding that the newer part of the kitchen has it's sockets on the garage circuit and not the ring main like the other sockets in the kitchen. :rolleyes: So it's completely possible they ripped out or built over any earth rods that were there.

Funny these semi-rural places :LOL:
 
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The original earth here was also a thin black wire..
 
B

blownfuse

Update:

So I set up all the bonding and took the earth right up to the cutout.

Rather than write to them straight away I thought I'd give the phone one more go but explain the bonding was in place etc like JohnD suggested.

The guy came out and to cut a long story short he just showed me the knockout I needed to punch through.

Took me 2 mins as the cable was all ready and my multimeter has gone from reading 3 ohms to now saying 0 ohms when I test the resistance between E&N on the downstairs ring.

When I come around to the CU the sparkie (qualified mate) will do all the proper tests.

Still, looking good. Cost nothing too which is always good ;)

Need to get Npower out now as I have the new isolator and tails all set to connect to the meter and get rid of the kettle cord! lol

Cheers all :)
 
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Update:

So I set up all the bonding and took the earth right up to the cutout.

Rather than write to them straight away I thought I'd give the phone one more go but explain the bonding was in place etc like JohnD suggested.

The guy came out and to cut a long story short he just showed me the knockout I needed to punch through.

Took me 2 mins as the cable was all ready and my multimeter has gone from reading 3 ohms to now saying 0 ohms when I test the resistance between E&N on the downstairs ring.

When I come around to the CU the sparkie (qualified mate) will do all the proper tests.

Still, looking good. Cost nothing too which is always good ;)

Need to get Npower out now as I have the new isolator and tails all set to connect to the meter and get rid of the kettle cord! lol

Cheers all :)


Not quite sure what this test was you were doing between the E/N if you was getting 0 VOLTS between them. that is spot on as you have 0 potential.

If you were doing some sort or ring continuity test and testing the loops for Rn and R2 I would expect you to have some sort of resistance reading otherwise you have a problem
 

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