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  1. fishkake
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    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Hi there,

    Let me start by saying that the picture is not my work! I regard myself as a reasonably competent DIY'er - probably as competent as one can reasonably be without any form of training.

    Attached is a picture of my Consumer Unit, or fuse box. It looks... a bit... shall we say shabby? I haven't seen a lot of consumer units in my time, so maybe this is more normal than I thought, but to me it doesn't look like a professional job. I should point out I'm responsible for the missing fuse, I was trying to figure out where it went. It turns out that it went to a wire in the airing cupboard which, despite being wired to a live 30A fuse, wasn't even capped! I've taken care of that now, but is this consumer unit something I ought to get replaced?

    Note I have read this: Do I need to update the fusebox in my house? - MyBuilder - https://www.mybuilder.com/questions/v/2384/do-i-need-to-update-the-fusebox-in-my-house

    ...which seems to suggest that replacing a fuse box just because it's old isn't necessary. Hence the pictures. So the question is - DO I NEED TO GET THIS FUSE BOX REPLACED?

    View attachment DSC_0601.JPG
     
  2. Leesparkykent
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    Leesparkykent You Rock Gmes Staff Member Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Kent
    Certainly looks a mess. If it was my house I would be replacing it and tidying the lot up.
     
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  3. Murdoch
    Offline

    Murdoch Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Woking
    There is no reason why you "need" to update the fuseboard unless you plan changes to any of the circuits ....that said, you should plan to get it updated at some point.... Just on the basis of improved safety for you and your family.
     
  4. Bob Geldoff1234
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    Bob Geldoff1234 Regular EF Member

    It's a bit hard to tell from the picture but it looks like you might have some rubber cables still connected(possibly cooker?).These would need to be updated before you had a new consumer unit fitted.
     
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  5. davesparks
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    davesparks Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    guildford
    It depends on how you define 'need' I guess.

    If you want to know if there is any legal or regulatory requirement to replace it, then no you don't need to have it replaced.

    If you want to make your home as electrically safe as possible and do the best you can to prevent you, or another member of your family from receiving a potentially fatal shock then I would say you need to get a competmat electrician to have a look and advise accordingly.

    Having the consumer unit replaced, whilst being a good way to improve safety, may not be the most urgent upgrade if the wiring is not in good condition.
     
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  6. telectrix
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    telectrix Scouser and Proud of It Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    cheshire/staffordshire
    Business Name:
    Telectrix
    sad thing is that DB would have been pristine when installed. all cables dressed neatly, and circuits labelled. since then (1960's?) a succession of cowboys and DIYers have performed alterations with the most technical tool being a hammer.
     
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  7. Vortigern
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    Vortigern Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    England
    Business Name:
    F.H. Electrical
    What is the switch on the right of the picture for? It looks like a supply to another floor? So are you in a flat or house? Are you the owner. I worry about competent DIYers like yourself. You have removed a fuse and left everything on and open and I guess gone poking around with a neon screwdriver to find an exposed live in the airing cupboard, that has been "taken care of" how did you do that? And how do you know it is the wire in question?
     
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  8. Rpa07
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    Rpa07 2000 posts - only 46379 behind Telectrix! Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Bristol
    Business Name:
    Ebenezer electrical
    @Vortigern@Vortigern on fire today - making sense with every tappety tap on the keyboard!
     
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  9. fishkake
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    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Hi, thanks all for your responses.

    Vortigern, you're right to worry about DIYers - a lot of us think we're competent and then end up burning the house down. To anwer your questions - the switch on the right is for a separate feed, which powers an electric shower. I haven't been, and won't be going anywhere near that.

    I was trying to find out roughly where everything went, so I removed each fuse in turn - powered off at the main switch, removed one fuse, powered back on and went round the house to see what did and didn't work. Not a perfect system, but a good starting point, I figured. I took this photo during that experimentation phase, so I haven't left everything open. And I don't trust those neon screwdrivers, in my early DIY days I had a faulty one which nearly killed me - I use a multimeter, first using the NCV beeper to test whether I'm in the right neck of the woods, then use the AC voltage meter across live and neutral to see what is and isn't actually going on.

    The wire in question has been "safely" capped off temporarily with a block connector and electrical tape, which has then been taped to the wall in the airing cupboard with a self-made "DANGER" label attached to it. My longer term plan was to remove this wire at the fuse box end and eventually remove it altogether as the floorboards come up. I was going to ask about that here, but in line with the above, I figured if I have to replace the whole box anyway I might as well do it then.

    Since there are so many helpful people here, I'll draw up a schematic of where all the wires go from what I've figured out so far. You might find it entertaining, or maybe you'll tell me the things I find odd are actually normal practice for some reason.

    If there is anything unsafe about anything I've written here, PLEASE tell me. I approach safety with a mixture of a tiny bit of industry knowledge, a whole heap of common sense, and a reasonable measure of overkill where I can, but I'm not a proud man, and I'd far rather be told I'm an idiot than kill myself.
     
  10. davesparks
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    davesparks Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    guildford
    If all you have done is remove the fuses then why have you taken the front cover off of the fuseboard?

    A multimeter is not a safe method of proving whether a conductor is live or dead, they can give false readings for various reasons, one of which is capacitive coupling between conductors.
     
  11. Vortigern
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    Vortigern Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    England
    Business Name:
    F.H. Electrical
    Hi @fishkake@fishkake Ok so its a shower, I am going to guess the other answers; it is a house and you are the owner. Ok so it is ok for you to be poking around then. So the past couple of days I have removed and replaced our bathroom suite and...removed the electric shower. I have put in a thermo/mixer valve instead, why I hear you ask because I hate the idea of water electrics and me and mine underneath it all. And thats an electrician. Now...we have modern electrics with RCD protection so it should be safe yes? Hmm maybe but I still don't like it. You have the same as me but with one difference, no RCD. I would not even consider going under such a shower, gives me the shivers. Just superstitious me though. As for the rest appearances aren't everything it is a matter of ...what lies beneath! You can only find that out by professional inspection and some testing. I would suggest you commission an EICR of the mid price variety i.e. not sub £100 not over £250 which will give you a fair idea of what needs doing. Personally if it were my installation I would like to keep that vintage look and just do what is necessary to make things safe. I may put a separate RCD on the shower though. But of course that is me sort of eccentric, love the older things, rather like myself.
     
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  12. fishkake
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    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Sorry, I didn't answer that, but yes, it is a house and I own it. Technically, the bank still own about 72% of it. I too will be replacing the electric shower with a mixer and pump. Not far safety reasons, I just hate electric showers. My bathroom is currently in a dismantled state, and once I'm done with that the other supply with have no purpose. I want to use it to put a separate supply in my office to run some awesome (and power hungry) computer equipment, but that's for another day.

    The EICR is a good idea. I'll be honest, if your ballpark is correct, that's cheaper than I thought, I will have a look in to that.

    @davesparks@davesparks - what tool should I be using? If you look here:

    http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-test-a-socket-with-an-electronic-multimeter

    How to test an outlet with a digital multimeter | eHow UK - http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_5840711_test-electrical-outlet-digital-multimeter.html

    Safe Meter Usage | Electrical Safety | Electronics Textbook - https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/direct-current/chpt-3/safe-meter-usage/

    These all seem to think a multimeter is well suited. And this document: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/gs38.pdf seems to think that my equipment needs to be CAT III or CAT IV rated, which my multimeter is.

    I'm not trying to prove you wrong, just to make sure I know what I'm doing - if using a multimeter isn't safe, the internet is VERY misleading to this end. In fact the page for my multimeter basically lists it as a selling point.
     
  13. fishkake
    Offline

    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Oh, @davesparks@davesparks to answer your other question - because I'm an idiot :) I thought I had to take this off to remove the fuses. After removing the lid, a quick look at the exposed wires set off an alarm bell in my head that said "I really don't think you should be in here..."

    You'd think it would have a label on it or something, but nope. Maybe a previous DIYer removed it!
     
  14. davesparks
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    davesparks Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    guildford
    They didn't have such labels in those days, the general public were expected to have some common sense and not need instructions and labels to save them from themselves.
     
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  15. Vortigern
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    Vortigern Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    England
    Business Name:
    F.H. Electrical
    Hi @fishkake@fishkake safety with electrics is a big subject. When the system is old like yours there can be problems that are counter-intuitive when testing. For instance the Earth or the Neutral can be live in certain conditions. It is often the case DIY peeps do not know this and assume they can touch a neutral or earth with immunity. Not so...there is a specific way for testing of live involving all three wires which I am not about to hold a seminar on you will be relieved to hear. However I cannot emphasise enough caution when dealing with electrics. @davesparks@davesparks was very likely referring to a double pole voltage tester compliant with GS38. Fluke T150 Voltage/Continuity Tester - https://www.tester.co.uk/fluke-t150-voltage-continuity-tester?fee=3&fep=5456&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1uS_xPz31QIVxLztCh1NvQ2MEAQYAyABEgIQuPD_BwE
    Sorry to steal your thunder @davesparks@davesparks This and how to use it comprises a safe isolation procedure and there is more. Think long and hard before diving in too deep.
     
  16. suffolkspark
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    suffolkspark Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    suffolk
    what type of service head is that chaps? looks wide enough for 2 fuses? ie one in the N? o_O? never come across one quite like that
     
  17. davesparks
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    davesparks Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    guildford
    It's one of the early insulated cutouts, most likely to be a TNS service with a PILC service cable.

    I'm not sure if they're are old enough to have had fused neutrals originally, but if they were then it should have been replaced with a solid link.
     
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  18. snowhead
    Offline

    snowhead Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Mildlands
    And in the section SAFE SYSTEMS OF WORK;

    19
    Where a test is being made simply to establish the presence or absence of
    voltage, a proprietary test lamp or 2-pole voltage detector suitable for the working voltage of the system should be used, rather than a multimeter.
    The use of incorrectly set multimeters (or makeshift devices) for voltage detection has often caused accidents.

    20
    Any device used to prove dead may fail to indicate danger (eg a faulty lamp not indicating a live circuit). Such devices should be proved before and after use. This should be done preferably on a voltage proving unit (some devices have built-in proving units) or otherwise on a known live source of similar voltage to the circuit under test (providing precautions are taken to prevent danger arising).
     
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  19. snowhead
    Offline

    snowhead Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    Mildlands
    Double post
     
  20. Midwest
    Online

    Midwest Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Oxfordshire
    :eek: I think OP your one of those DIY's whose like to go too far with things. Stop messing around with things, before you kill yourself or someone else. In ten years time you might not own this house, and put the new owners in danger.

    So get some quotes from some competent qualified electricians, to have that CU replaced. And looking at the state of the cables, the property has subjected to other weekend warriors (no offence meant). Therefore I would be considering having it re-wired, but that bit is my personal opinion.

    Edit; not withstanding the excellent previous advice given by members :)
     
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  21. Murdoch
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    Murdoch Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    Woking
    Edited - referring to wannabe , HMRC shy, part P shy, so called sparks
     
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  22. fishkake
    Offline

    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Thanks all for your help - @davesparks@davesparks I might have removed the lid, but my common sense did prevail and prevent me from touching anything, hence I'm still here! I told you above, I apply a mixture of a tiny bit of knowledge (which in this case let me down), a heap of common sense (which is why I didn't touch anything) and a reasonable measure of overkill (which is why I was wearing gloves and not alone at the time) - that way I know if one of the three lets me down, the other two are likely to pick up the slack and keep me breathing.

    Regarding the tester, I'm missing something I'm sure, but in terms of testing whether a wire is live or not, I can't see what that device does that a multimeter doesn't. I'm happy to spend £100 on something which will keep me alive, but since my multimeter already cost nearly that, what am I missing before I shell out?

    GS38 says my device must:

    conform to the requirements of BS EN 61010-031 or in the case of a 2-pole voltage detector to BS EN 61243-3 (see Further reading); <fishkake:BS61010 complicance is noted on my meter, but I don't know what -031 is>
    ■ be marked with the rated installation category – CAT II, III, or IV; <fishkake:check>
    ■ be marked with the manufacturer’s name or identifying mark; and have the following:
    ■ probes, and clips, which:
    o have finger barriers or are shaped to guard against inadvertent hand contact with the live conductors under test; <fishkake:check>
    o are insulated to leave an exposed metal tip not exceeding 4 mm measured across any surface of the tip. Where practicable it is strongly recommended that this is reduced to 2 mm or less, or that springloaded retractable screened probes are used; <fishkake:check>
    o when used with a multimeter, should have suitable high-breaking capacity (hbc), sometimes known as hrc, fuse, or fuses,† with a suitable current rating (usually not exceeding 500 mA), except when used with a loop impedance or RCD tester where a value of 10 A is typically used or a current-limiting resistor and a fuse.** <fishkake: not certain about this, I couldn't find the data>

    Do I need to shell out another £100 to safely test if a wire is carrying a live voltage or not? Jeez, I thought most DIYers did this with a £1 screwdriver!
     
  23. fishkake
    Offline

    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    What? What have I done that's going too far? I have literally removed a fuse and tried to test the current on a wire. Both things that I thought were both legal and safe for a DIYer to do - the only purpose of this post was to ask if I should get the fuse box replaced, I haven't done a thing!
     
  24. fishkake
    Offline

    fishkake EF Member

    Location:
    Nottingham
    Apologies, I missed that this post had developed a page 2 when I posted the above - thanks @snowhead@snowhead for that info. I've never trusted those £1 screwdrivers, but it seems they're not even legal to test for the presence of voltage. And it seems that the selling page on Amazon for my multimeter makes various claims that it is suitable for use when it legally isn't.

    I should point out this isn't why I bought my multimeter. I tinker with electronics - and when working with 3-5V, I really don't have to care about electrical safety :)
     
  25. davesparks
    Offline

    davesparks Trusted Advisor

    Location:
    guildford
    You need knowledge and correct training above all else.

    Most multimeters have a very high input impedance and don't present enough, if any, load onto the item being tested. This leads to the meter measuring phantom voltages and falsely giving the impression that something is live when it is not.
     
  26. Matthewd29
    Offline

    Matthewd29 Regular EF Member

    Location:
    Belfast
    If that's old cabling I spy on the right it's rewiring you should be looking at also
     
  27. buzzlightyear
    Offline

    buzzlightyear Electrician's Arms

    Location:
    star command
    two words, holly f**k! upload_2017-9-6_22-48-54.png
     
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