I experienced one of those unusual days, well morning on Wednesday, the sort of day where things don’t go to plan as easily as they might. First port of call was to a regular customer’s house a mile or so away to check out a faulty floodlight. A separate motion detector turned out not to be faulty and it was only the lamp inside the floodlight fitting which required replacing. However the lady wanted to have me install an LED floodlight instead of the halogen one that was there. I had replaced another halogen light at the side of the house some months ago with an LED version but at that time she didn’t want this one changing. Simple enough and straightforward to replace it now. I invited her along to purchase a new fitting and whilst at the counter I received a call from someone living ten miles or more distant. I asked if I could call them back. We purchased the new fitting and off we went. As floodlights go this was very sturdy and well designed but when it came to installing it wasn’t so easy to fit. The main problem was its weight. A bracket had to be removed so it could be fixed to the wall. Removing it wasn’t so easy but fixing it to the wall was. I then had to reattach the light to the bracket and that’s when the problems really started. The designers could have made the task far easier with a little thought. It’s as though they don’t understand that usually their floodlights will be installed high on an outside wall using a ladder and as such is difficult enough without it being a poor design too. Anyway I got the job done like I usually do and called the guy who had phoned earlier. He had a faulty control unit which supplied his immersion heater, so he said.
On my arrival I checked the supply was getting to the control unit and at first it didn’t seem to be but then I discovered it was after I moved the timer a little. The override switch which gives an hour’s boost during the daytime was also working as it should. The controller is one of the type for use when the electricity supply to the house is delivered at a lower levy overnight, what they used to call an ‘off-peak’ rate. I set the timer and then checked the immersion heater itself to ensure that the replacement unit had been installed properly by the plumber I was informed had fitted it. I removed the cover and noticed it was burnt in one spot. I thought that was odd because new heaters are supplied with new covering lids and indeed on closer inspection the heater didn’t look as if it had been replaced where it was screwed into the water tank. A new thermostat had been fitted however. One of the element terminals, the neutral connection was badly burned and the cable attached to it was likewise burned, in fact as I moved it I found it wasn’t connected at all. It was apparent that a plumber had not been involved at all but the guy himself had replaced the thermostat thinking that was the heating element and assuming he had solved the problem. I said nothing to embarrass him but told him he would have to get another plumber to replace the whole unit and then all should be well. I prepared the cable for re-connection and left it safe for whoever would install the heater. Until fairly recently I would have done the plumbing work myself but I have cut back on the type of work I am now prepared to do. I wonder why some people think they can ‘pull the wool’ over the eyes of a professional and get away with them not noticing? In my working life I have experienced this often, people denying they had anything to do with the problems they give to me to fix. This guy would have saved himself a lot of money had he called in the professionals in the first place.
What a day! Over the years I have come across many different problems in my line of work and I often say to myself that it never ceases to amaze me when some new problem arises. It isn’t the problems themselves but more the fact that some of them wouldn’t be problems if manufacturers and designers of equipment realised they were building them into their goods. Often no feedback mechanism exists to help in eliminating problems and to improve designs. I had two small jobs to do on Thursday morning and I expected to have them both completed within two hours but unfortunately I was away from home for more than six! A lady had bought a new light fitting and I was to install it. The existing lighting, recessed downlights did not give enough light though they were halogen lamps. The reason for that was most of them had been changed to LED lamps but of a far lower equivalent rating to be bright enough. The easy answer would have been to put higher capacity lamps in but she and her husband had decided to purchase what they thought was a twin-tube LED fitting instead. Actually they had bought a modern fluorescent lamp fitting and two LED tube lamps to fit in it. Now I have seen fittings of this type before, they look like an ordinary fluorescent fitting but are different. I gave it no thought and proceeded to install it but first I had to locate the supply to the existing recessed lights and divert it to the new fitting. That was a job in itself for the supply could have been anywhere in the false ceiling but I located it quicker than I had thought I would. It took some time to install the new light fitting and when I had finally succeeded I discovered it wouldn’t work. I checked the supply and all was well so the problem lay in the light itself but there was nothing evidently wrong. We contacted the supplier from where she had purchased it and I explained the problem. They allowed me to bring back the internal part of the fitting and have it replaced rather than having to remove the whole unit from the ceiling. I drove there with the lady as my passenger and the salesman was unable to reason why we were having problems. The manager came to the desk and we discussed things. It turns out that they had sold the lady a fluorescent fitting with LED lamps in error. It could only work with fluorescent lamps and not LED lamps. That explained a lot for I had been under the impression that its internal components were LED ‘drivers’ but in fact they were choke units, the devices normally found in a fluorescent fitting. Ironically the fitting could have been modified to use LED lamps but that would have meant cutting the internal wiring and partly rewiring it, something you wouldn’t do with a new fitting. The supplier admitted their error and offered the lady a larger fitting for the same price and she accepted it. It was an LED lighting unit that had the LEDs built into it, no separate lamps to install. It actually looks much the same as the fluorescent fitting in the picture above. We drove back to her house and I installed it. However, although the light worked first time with no problems when it came to fixing the diffuser it was a nightmare! It had been manufactured to hold the diffuser in place with 16 or so metal clips which were almost impossible to fit into place and even when I had managed to do that it was extremely difficult to clamp the diffuser in place using them. In the above picture you can see two of the four clamps of a similar nature holding the diffuser in place. A much simpler way of fixing the diffuser would have saved so much time and frustration if it had been designed that way. I took the rest of the first fitting back to the supplier as I’d promised and by chance I spoke with the manager again who confessed that he had installed the same LED fitting at home and had exactly the same problems in fixing the diffuser. The second job I had been to replace a small lamp holder and it took me a mere ten minutes by comparison! I didn’t get back home until mid-afternoon. Some days you wished you’d never gotten out of bed.