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Thread: Using the earth wire of the twin+E as alive conductor

  1. #1
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    Using the earth wire of the twin+E as alive conductor

    I was under the impression that using the earth wire as a live conductors, would not only be illegal but extremely dangerous. considering the wire is smaller and not insulated. Wrapping black insulation tape around the wire will not help with identifying that it is a live.

    I was called out to a site today due to a power issue, imagine that, the first light switch I open has the earth taped in black tape used as the return to the light. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I open another switch and find that the switch is switching the neutral and not the live. Then the fun really started, when I could understand how there was twin+E at the switch and surfix at the light point, it just went downhill from there. I managed to break open the ceiling and found 4 concealed junction boxes with a 2 metre space. Yip you are right the fault was a burnt wire in one of the junction boxes. It didnt stop there, I then found the 20 amp mixed circuit breaker feeding the lights and plugs had a mixture of 1.5 and 2.5 mm wires.

    The house was purchased 2017 and the customer informed me that nobody had done any electrical work in the house since they moved into the house. I requested the COC, which they provided.

    4 month ago I was called out to do a COC audit on a house which had just been purchased, the same company issued the COC for this house.

    This is now becoming a little embarrassing for this association, a 100 % fail rate for their members

    It makes no difference if the electrical contractor/inspector is registered with every department, organisation or association , there is no policing, no random checks and no consequence.

    This customer will have to find more than R10 000 in the next few days to create safe environment, just in the area where we are working I dont want to even go into the roof space in the house. the worse part is they will have no claim against the contractor/inspector who issued the COC in 2017.

    SOME FREE ADVICE WHICH COULD SAVE YOU THOUSANDS, IF NOT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF RAND, MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR BRAND NEW PROPERTY YOU ARE ABOUT TO PURCHASE, (WHICH COULD BE THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT IN YOUR LIFE TIME) CHECKED BEFORE YOU AUTHOURISE THE PROPERTY TRANSFER. YOU HAVE NOT LEG TO STAND ON ONCE THE TRASFER IS SIGNED.

    What are the consequences, either you will end up with endless electrical issues while living in the house or when a legit electrical contractor has to work on your property or you attempt to sell the property, you will get stuck with a huge repair bill.
    Last edited by Isetech; 20-Jun-22 at 05:32 PM. Reason: YOU

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isetech View Post
    This is now becoming a little embarrassing for this association, a 100 % fail rate for their members
    Have you reported it to the offices of the association ?
    Have you requested that the owner report it ?

    Have you ever reported real dodgy work to the offices and have you had a response

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    Quote Originally Posted by GCE View Post
    Have you reported it to the offices of the association ?
    Have you requested that the owner report it ?

    Have you ever reported real dodgy work to the offices and have you had a response
    Yes

    Yes

    and yes, I was told they would sort it out.

    The next question you going to ask - Have they sorted it out yet, I was told it would be sorted out, so I went to site to continue with the work I had to do, As I started to trace the fault which was causing the lights to trip, and found not just illegal but dangerous wiring. I then had to to contact the contractor directly and sent pictures of the wiring. He then sent a couple of teams to rewire the building.

    My question then, how did the inspector who signed off the COC, get it so wrong? surely when an inspector issues a COC especially one which is registered and using letterheads with an organisations logo's, there is some form of policing to verify that their members COC's are in fact legit.

    Why is it up to my customer or the owner to have to get another electrical contractor/inspector to check and find all these problems?

    Why is there no process in place to do random checks on COC's to verify that all or at least the majority of COC's issued are in fact done correctly?

    The other issue was sorted out because the estate agent had no idea I would be on site on the day they went to see if the customer was happy with the sale. The customer requested I attend the site meeting as a consultant to assist with identifying all the issues with the COC. The electrical contractor acknowledged the issues were in fact valid and they returned and fixed all the issues as discussed.

    We attempted to make the site as safe as possible yesterday, we will be quoting to strip the entire building and rewire due to concerns over the safety of the electrical installation. I will create a report with all the pictures of the installation.

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    I am going to ask this question again, why are we having all these COC issues, why are the people responsible for the policing and industry not doing random checks?

    Why are so many new owner fighting with sellers over illegal COC's?

    What is the problem in the industry.

    The price inspectors charge?

    The lack of suitable training?

    The lack of experience of the inspectors?

    No credit system to keep inspectors of all levels on the industry up to date with the regs?

    Inspectors being pressurised by company owners to knock out COC's in numbers to cover bills?

    No formal background checks on companies being registering?

    Lack of policing of the industry?

    Lack of follow up checks on inspectors once they get their card?

    Lack of independent checks on inspectors who are reported?

    All I know from my daily experience out on site, we have a huge problem in this industry, it just seems to be getting worse by the day.

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    What does all this mean to the a new property owner -

    1/ Your family safety.

    2/ Random faults for no apparent reason.

    3/ A huge electrical repair bill the next time you call out a legit electrical contactor.

    4/ Delays on new projects.

    5/ Massive repairs bills when you attempt to sell the property.

    6/ Apparently no longer an insurance problem, some insurances will still cover if the house burns down, I would verify this statement.

    7/ High electricity bills, as we have learnt from the last project, because of adjacent shops being connected to your electricity meter by mistake.

    8/ Sitting in the dark because of faulty lights being connected in other shops.

    9/ Tenants left without power due to fault concealed wiring.

    The list just goes on and on .............................

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    Would you regard using the bare earth wire in a twin+E cable illegal or dangerous?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Isetech View Post
    Would you regard using the bare earth wire in a twin+E cable illegal or dangerous?
    Dangerous -

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    I am going to ask this question again, why are we having all these COC issues, why are the people responsible for the policing and industry not doing random checks?
    The people responsible for policing the industry are the Department of Labour - Unfortunately they don't seem to take that responsibility seriously and appointed AIA to do the work for them and receive payment from the owner who would then use the report to lay a compliant of fraud against the contractor.
    A couple of the cases I am aware of , the contractor ended up paying the AIA's fees and carrying out the repairs - Those contractors now seen to have learnt by there mistakes and appear to be doing a decent job, for now.
    The AIA system was not sustainable

    The association can only pull there members in and discipline or end there membership. My feeling is that the ending of membership for transgressions is not happening enough.

    For the moment the only real solution is to take responsibility for your own industry and report those that step out of line , create a strong association that will discipline their members and make the/a association the recognized go to people if you are looking for contractors.
    By increasing awareness and have the majority of " good " contractors belonging to an association allows the association to have the ear of the DOL which can only help.

    I say the/a as the ECA already exist and lets not fool ourselves into believing that all members are perfect. At least the foundation is there to build on.


    What is the problem in the industry.

    The price inspectors charge?

    The lack of suitable training?

    The lack of experience of the inspectors?

    No credit system to keep inspectors of all levels on the industry up to date with the regs?

    Inspectors being pressurised by company owners to knock out COC's in numbers to cover bills?

    No formal background checks on companies being registering?

    Lack of policing of the industry?
    In my opinion - lacking of policing , making contractors responsible for shitty work by making them return and fix the mess.
    It also does not help when owners of the installation always insist on taking the lowest price even though they know that the company may not be registered as an electrical contractor .

    The above is applicable to all industries where we as the buyers take the lowest price even though we know that it is not legit- Take the guys that sell at the robot , you have no come back , they do not support shopping centers which create work for us as contractors , easily found by SARS to pay taxes etc . Why do we support them ?

    Same with building alterations done at home , do you make use of registered contractor or get guys to make a plan and to keep pricing down.

    There is a place for handyman type business but unfortunately they are stepping out of there lanes and creating problems and cutting prices on jobs that should be done by professionals .
    The knock on effect is that the professional now reduces his price to compete and in the process drops his quality -
    We also have the unscrupulous person that then runs around and issue COC's for the handyman that has done the work

    We have/had on the forum a person that in his own words admitted that he was not a registered electrician and therefore not a registered contractor yet he posted photos of himself doing cable joints and fault finding.
    Somebody must have been signing.

    We have a handyman in PE doing townhouses for a developer and a supposed contractor in Jhb signing COC's - The developer is aware but accepts that he is paying less , same with the roof truss , concrete work etc - Owners have now complained and the word is slowluy going out to stay away from his developments.
    DOL have been made aware , started with showing teeth , and have now slowed down and are doing nothing.

    In short - we as the consumers need to start using legit companies and not always just go for the cheapest price.

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    Watching a video the other day, the creator made a comment about "the race to the bottom", it seems we are not the only ones racing to the bottom, it’s a global problem.

    My concern at the moment is the fail rate of COC's, I am not directly targeting anyone in particular, and it just so happens that the last 3 audits fails have been registered members. As I mentioned to the customer who felt they had been conned because they thought they had legit COC's, we all make mistakes or may do something that might not be 100% right, but signing off dangerous work cannot be tolerated. What must happen, is all work must stop and that dangerous part of the electrical installation must be fixed immediately, even if it means your entire company is sent to site to fix it, or the power must be switched off. Just imagine what a social media shit storm you will cause if you have to switch off the power in these load shedding times.

    For example, I am busy with a property which I started an inspection report (too many faults to complete the test) and trying to fix all the issues. I ask myself, do I really need to take all the down lighters out the roof and cut back the wiring so that the white part of the twin is in the clamp, is it dangerous to leave the red and black wire exposed (everyone is doing it).

    Do I cut the roof open because I know what I am going to see? Yes I do because it was exactly what I expected, the steel pipe has been cut and a PVC 2 way box fitted and the steel pipes not linked and no earth wire installed, just like all the new plastic socket outlets installed, none of the metal light fittings or ceiling fans have earth continuity, because the people dropped on site or collected outside the home improvement centre or the local handyman, have no idea how older electrical systems work.

    Older generation sparkies with the correct training and experience will tell you it is not the live or neutral that are the most important part of the installation, it’s the earth wire. You may ask why? Because that is the link between you, the earth continuity conductor and ground, without it you are dead, it is that simple.

    There are 2 things that kill you, current (not voltage as most people think) and no earth or equipment grounding. You can hold onto 1000 volts, how do I know this because the insulation resistance tester can push out 1000 V and as a sparkie we have all made that mistake or been exposed to the door handle key trick if you don’t know what I am talking about, there is a good chance you have not worked in the industry long enough.

    Why is using the earth of the twin so dangerous, well for starters, most sparkies don’t carry green/yellow insulation tape, so the wire will be taped in black or white or whatever colour you have in your pocket. Did someone say green and yellow heat shrink, I didn’t think so, and I don’t even think you can buy it in SA?

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    Granted, work must be carried out correctly and according to regs, however, here's the other side of the coin.

    When I am called on to do an inspection for coc purposes, I always hope that I'm gonna find as many faults as possible. I hate those inspections where one has to really go out of one's way to find a fault.

    One doesn't make money by inspecting and issuing a coc. The money is in the repairs.

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