If you have been following this blog for a while, you will realise that I am continually harping on about compliance and compliance certificates.
The following picture clearly shows why.
On the other side of the black panel are all of the circuit protection. Circuit breakers, fuses and main switches.
The person who installed the air conditioner, clearly didn’t know what they were doing.
It isn’t clear from this photo, but the wiring on the far right is incorrect. The large cable coming down from the top is the supply to the switchboard. The smaller cable that enters the same hole shouldn’t be there!
In the following photo, I have added a few drawings to show a bit more detail.
At location “A” on the right, is the un-switched supply. This cable enters the “Line Side” of the main switch.
What this means is that this cable is always live (unless the sealed 100A service fuse is removed) – it cannot be turned off, or disconnected easily. The only circuit protection is from the service fuse, which is located inside a sealed compartment controlled by the supply authority.
At location “D” on the right is the line side of the main switch is the “Load Side” of the Main Switch. When the main switch is turned off, all other circuits inside this switchboard should be able to be turned off – isolated. Except the off peak hot water – the off peak hot water is a different issue – and beyond the scope of this discussion.
However, this switchboard is wired incorrectly!!!!
When the main switch is turned off, one circuit remains on. Can you work out which circuit that is?
If you have a good look at the air conditioner circuit breaker, you will see that the supply cable comes form the “line side” of the main switch – See location “B” and “C”. What this means is that if the main switch is turned off, the supply to the air condition will remain on, or “Live”. The electricity supply to the air conditioner can never be turned off.
While it would seem that there would be limited risk to the home owner (except fire in the event of a fault), there is a very high risk to any service personnel that work on the switchboard. But should there ever be a fault with the air conditioner circuit breaker, the risk to the home owner is considerable as the air condition cannot be turned off – isolated.
Obviously this does NOT comply with the Australian Wiring Rules – AS/NZS 3000/2018 (nor an earlier versions ever produced!!!)
Why did this happen?
There are probably a number of reasons why this happened.
- The air conditioner installers clearly did NOT know what they were doing! This is an obvious and stupid error. It is amazing they didn’t electrocute themselves installing it!
- The installer may NOT have been an electrician – believe it or not, some air conditioner installers think they are electricians and do their own work – as do some plumbers.
- If the installers did know what they were doing, they made a mistake because they did NOT check their work. If they had, they would easily have picked up their mistake.
- A compliance certificate would never have been submitted by this installer. If it had been, the installation would have been defected by the supply authority, and the installer would have been required to return and repair the installation – this would have been classified as a Major Defect.
Why am I harping on about this sort of fault?
A Compliance Certificate of Electrical Work (CCEW) is mandatory for all alterations or additions to an electrical system. Installing an air conditioner is an addition and a CCEW is mandatory.
Almost every single house that I visit, has had recent electrical work, and ALL of them have been illegal, bad quality, or dangerous. By illegal I may mean that no CCEW was submitted, or it could mean non-compliant with the Wiring Rules (A CCEW is a mandatory inclusion in the Wiring Rules)
In a way, this goes back to another of my articles about costs and costs part 2.
- It takes time to fill out and submit a CCEW – and a CCEW costs the installer money (in lost time)
- Doing a quick job non-compliant job earns more money for the installer
- It is costly to comply with the Wiring Rules, even though it is mandatory. Those who undercut on price, have to cut corners to make enough money to stay in business – even though it is illegal.
- Complying with the Wiring Rules takes more time. Those who charge less, do their work in less time to make more money. Compliance with the wiring rules isn’t possible and they don’t care.
- Those who undercut on cost, are more likely to do a dodgy job.
Most clients don’t know the difference between good work or bad work. If the lights come on when the switch is turned on, then the contractor gets paid. Unless the client knows what to look for, crawls under the floor, or through the ceiling, the client is likely never to know if it is or isn’t compliant and safe.
But, as we can see in the above photos, just because the air conditioner turns on when it is installed, doesn’t mean that it won’t burn your house down later – or kill someone.
A Compliance Certificate of Electrical Work (CCEW) is your only protection against illegal, dangerous and just plain nasty electrical work.
Don’t trust the contractor, always ask for a CCEW!
Bye for now,
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