Come across any DIY disasters lately?

  TOPCAT® 17:38 26 Feb 2007

In your home when you moved in, I mean. We came into our bungalow nearly four years ago and over that period I've set about making some changes and alterations, as one does. These covered both the inside of the home and outside in our very spacious gardens, complete with large fishpond and various accessories.

My first encounter with idiocy happened when I was scarifying and aerating the lawns. Some idiot had buried up a cable, thankfully armoured, too close to the surface and my machine lifted part of it out! It fed power to two 'street lamps' located in the larger parts of the gardens, so I had to trace, uncover and set about one hundred feet of cable down to a safe level in the ground. I then made sure its location was entered on the ground plans, along with several other live plastic coated cables I found and 'replanted' in protective sheathing in the fishpond and fitration systems area.

Later on I employed an electrician friend to rearrange some lighting connections in the home. He was astonished and quite angry to find that some other idiot had connected three lighting feeds into a thirty amp main circuit! This of course had to be sorted out immediately and led to him checking all the other electrics in the bungalow, at a much higher cost to me!

Now, it goes without saying that some DIYers can be lethal in incompetence and not only to themselves. My electrician told me that no qualified man would even have attempted what some person did since that bungalow was built, and I, of course, cannot lay the blame at anyone's door as there have been several owners since new. An independant survey was carried out before purchase but unfortunately the 'electrics' don't come into it.

If it were feasible then it wouldn't be a bad idea for all home electric circuits to be sealed, as the meters are, and any alterations or additions would be required to be checked and further sealed by some authority or other.

Anyone else experience a DIY job in their home that eventually gave cause for concern? TC.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 18:08 26 Feb 2007

Talking about home electrics.

I was once rewiring a semi detached house prior to a young couple moving in(condition of the mortgage.)

Old fuse box was completely removed nothing connected to the meter and we were taking out old cable an fitting new.

Poked a bit out cable hanging out of the wall in the utility room, a big flash and a bang, screwdriver now 3 inches shorter.

2 minutes later next door neighbours are asking if we can look at their electrics as everything has gone off.

Seems that at some point previous tenants were pinching electricity from their neighbours.


  wiz-king 18:25 26 Feb 2007

as wired my house and got all the light switches in the neutral leads so that the bulb holders still had a live contact when the light was swiched off.

  BRYNIT 19:02 26 Feb 2007

Many years ago I was asked to put some extra plug sockets in the kitchen of a café

Fault I found.

1.Plug sockets from kitchen had been looped between three fuses and all other sockets in the cafe. Had to check all wiring.

2. After taking up some floor boards I found that the old wiring had been replaced but had been left connected to the fuse box and just left under the floor board. After seeing what was left of a dead mouse I decied to check all loose wires before touching. Its a good job i did.

  Arnie 19:17 26 Feb 2007

"it wouldn't be a bad idea for all home electric circuits to be sealed, as the meters are, and any alterations or additions would be required to be checked and further sealed by some authority or other."

It would; since I would not have been able to correctly earth and rewire my friend's electric cooker.
I first suspected the problem when I could feel a slight tingle on the back of my hand.
This was wired and supposedly checked by a council electrician.

Or my daughter's house: Wall lights which when switched on, would cause a slight tingling sensation on touching the wall. 2 core bell wire had been used!
I chased the wall and fitted protected 1.5mm 3 core T&E back to the 5Amp lighting circuit.

I spent 20 years in my local college's Electrical Engineering dept before I retired.
I could write a book about the things I have seen (in all trades) by so called 'qualified people'.

Due to the recent changes in the law, I am supposedly not qualified to make any significant changes to my house wiring.
It's jobs for the pen pushers.

Some of these people would have had us change our excellent 13Amp ring main system, for the horrible continental socket system had they succeeded.

This is not to say that any old Tom, Dick or Harry should be allowed to dabble with potentially life threatening circuitry. However to 'seal' a wiring system would be ludicrous to say the least!

Now I have got that off my chest I can relax. (:0)

  Arnie 19:35 26 Feb 2007

"We were led to believe that the law was brought in because armies of DIYers were killing themselves every weekend."

I am a disbeliever. I think it makes a loads of money for some people and do not forget the VAT.

  oresome 20:31 26 Feb 2007

Unfortunately, the type of people who bodge aren't the type who follow the letter of the law when it's changed even if they were aware of it.

  TOPCAT® 22:47 26 Feb 2007

tradesmen in most professions these days. Amongst the trusted and competent we will always get the bad apples. It's a sad fact of life that no amount of legislation can ensure even a qualified person will do his or her job correctly.

I'm definitely not an electrician as Arnie and others soon noted, but I am familiar with the OHMS Law from my amateur radio studies at college. My inclusion above about sealing a wiring system was just me desperately trying to think of a way of stopping these lethal DIYers from even attempting to touch things. As in my case, most bodgers seem to get away with their handiwork and only come to the public's attention if they kill or injure someone and a case of guilt can be proven.

As for the recent experiences at my home, I can thankfully now sleep better each night knowing that a potential fire, or worse, has been eliminated in my electrical circuitry.

One other point that gives me concern is about people fitting the incorrect rated fuse in their appliance plug. Many of my friends and family members were guilty of having oversize fuses in some of their plugs. They are now better informed and have not erred again to my knowledge. The modern moulded plug fitted to all new appliances here goes a long way in correcting these mistakes and its correct fuse rating is easily visible on the plug. TC.

  WhiteTruckMan 23:02 26 Feb 2007

my favourite trick is opening up non moulded plugs to check inside. Aside from the quality of the mechanical work, I used to find quite a few where the live and neutral were swapped. the appliance worked fine, but if a fault caused the fuse to blow then it wouldnt interrupt the live feed to the appliance...


  Arnie 00:15 27 Feb 2007

"One other point that gives me concern is about people fitting the incorrect rated fuse in their appliance plug."

I back you 100% and feel the same.

In 1966 I was lodging with a married couple awaiting a Stevenage Development Corporation house allocation.
I wasn't happy with the couple's 405 line TV set's mains lead, since the wire was not captive to the 13A plug.

The husband said he was happy to let me correct the problem. I mentioned to him that his first priority was to obtain a 5A fuse to replace the 13A one in the plug. He told me he would cadge one from his company's electrician.

To my amazement the following evening, he told me the electrician said a 13A fuse was quite okay and accused me of not knowing what I was talking about.
There was nothing I could do to convince the husband, that the twin double insulated lead fitted to the set was better protected by a 5A fuse.
I just let the matter drop.

In 1973 I joined the staff of my local college.
Within one week I was 'told off' by the female storekeeper, for emptying her whole stock of 2, 3 and 5A fuses to replace all the 13A fuses fitted to the lab's test equipment.

Some time later I was ‘the best thing since baked bread’ when I sorted out her bedroom/bathroom light wiring.
During a decorating job, her husband had disconnected and incorrectly wired the lights in series.
At switch-on they were both glowing merrily at half their normal brightness!

WhiteTruckMan. I know the problem well.

Such is life.

  PalaeoBill 20:30 27 Feb 2007

When we moved into out current house, one of the first jobs my wife wanted me to fix was the downstairs hall and upstairs landing light switches (two way) not working properly. I discovered that the wiring, circa 1928, was in need of attention. Some of it was rubber backed and very perished and most of it was cotton wrapped around what appeared to be chalk and stuffed into lengths of metal pipe (possibly old gas pipes).

I ripped the lot out but what amazed me was that the wiring ran horizontally or diagonally across walls between light switches to ceiling roses and all appeared to be spurs.

The best bit was a permanent live under the living room floor (not via the meter). Unfortunately I was way too honest in those days and I told the electricity board who fixed it.

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