The hidden faults

I thought that I would share some photos, and a description of some hidden errors.

Most customers never see what is behind a switchboard, and fewer would know what errors might lie behind the panel – if not told.

So here are some photos, and a description of what I found in what seemed to be a reasonable switchboard – on the surface

A fairly innocuous looking load centre in a switchboard – or is it

What faults do you see in the above switchboard? There are three obvious ones if you look closely.

  1. The main switch is the incorrect size for the cable. Looking closely you will see that the rating is 63A. The cable size is only 6mm, which is rated at 40A. This is a fire hazard.
  2. Looking at the neutral link at the top now. What is missing? There is no earth connection. A mandatory connection between the earth and the neutral is missing. This is called the MEN connection. Even though there have been renovations, alterations, and electrical additions, nobody has noticed that the MEN is missing! Even the bloody clown who installed the load centre!!!
  3. While you can’t see it clearly, there is a link on the line side of the end circuit breaker, and the line side of the second circuit breaker. This is non-compliant as it overloads the first cable.
  4. While you can’t see it at all, an earth electrode has not been installed. This should have been installed decades earlier, after the first major alteration/addition.

This photo will show more clearly what I am talking about.

What else did I find that isn’t normally seen by home owner’s after a job?

More hidden nasty stuff

Behind the load centre – the hidden stuff
  1. The two connectors are incorrect – the blue one and the clear one. Both should be double screw connectors
  2. The bushes on the left have been removed to fit cables through sharp metal holes. Non-compliant and a short circuit hazard.
  3. the earth connection at the bottom left is loose and corroded. The earth cable size is incorrect. This is an electrocution or fire hazard should a short circuit occur.
  4. In the middle of the screen there is a bare copper wire – bare earth. This should have been insulated during repairs/alterations
  5. No earth cable penetrates the black panel into the load centre – no MEN connection

Here are some other photos of those faults.

An electrician – or two, have pushed out the bush to fit new cable – why didn’t they just drill another hole? They didn’t care, and there are no inspectors checking any more.
Non-compliant earth connections, no bushing.

So, now that you have seen some hidden stuff, what should it look like in here?

new bush – retrofitted, not perfect, but acceptable from a compliance perspective
new switchboard bond and cable – with star washers – before painting
soldered earth connections with a new MEN cable – see next picture.
new earth connections, MEN, and switchboard bond – now painted.

It is always disappointing for me when I start a job and find this type of garbage. Sadly it is common though.

In NSW there are few inspectors. Ausgrid (the district where I mostly work) don’t have any who are checking general installations, and it is was always entirely reliant on electricians submitting their work.

According to the Master Electrician’s Association, and NECA there are only 1% to 2% of the mandatory CCEWs (compliance certificates of electrical work) being submitted in any year. That would imply that substantial numbers of jobs were never checked when we had inspectors, and even less now that we don’t have any.

The outcome is the crap above!

Sadly this poor customer has had to pay a hefty fee to fix up this stuff, but every one of them posed a safety hazard and were mandatory for me to repair.

I have previously written an article on mandatory repairs – you can find it at: To fix or not to fix, that is the question

I don’t like having to repair work done by others – it is a constant annoyance of mine. It delays my planned work, costs the customer extra and is a waste of my time. The customer pays twice, to do something that should have been done properly the first time.

As a result of seeing daily non-compliant rubbish in my local area (and writing about it), I am now an integral member of the Electrical Safety Project , and am part of a team trying to clean up what has become a dangerous and dirty industry.

Good luck with that Greg!

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