I wonder

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Resistance heating element
Resistance heating element (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Shirley Anne


Patio revisited

Photo of UK Electrical Distribution Board. Bus...
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the builder arrived to complete his work on the patio. He apologised for not having been on site for over a week explaining that he had another job which also needed to be completed. That job he had already started before he started ours so I wasn’t complaining and in any case, as I explained to him, the weather has made it impossible to do much outside work anyway. He said he would remain here until the job was finished. He has laid all the stone capping on the walls but has yet to finish the steps. When the concrete was poured a couple of weeks ago there remained some rough areas which the builder said he would smooth out. Unfortunately he discovered yesterday that it needed more than skimming over and he decided to float a finer coat of concrete over the whole area. He worked until six o’clock but ran out of materials so he is returning today to finish it off. He had promised me on arrival that he would stay until the job was finished and now he was saying he would return on Saturday! I challenged him over that and reminded him of his promise. He will be coming back today! The weather forecast looks promising so I shall be able to complete the electrical work later this week. After a dry spell in my own work I finally had job requests on Monday and Tuesday and was about to do some work in the vegetable plot yesterday when the builders arrived. As that work would have interfered with that of the builder I left off doing it until today. E had gone down to Birmingham yesterday with a friend in connection with their competition club/group and won’t return home until this evening. So I am home alone again….yippee! Only kidding.

A few days ago a friend of mine had asked me to check out an electrical job he had undertaken and was giving him problems. He and his mate do general maintenance work, most decorating but he is not averse to doing the odd electrical job. I keep telling him to employ myself or another electrician as he himself is not qualified. There isn’t anything stopping people from doing their own electrical work provided they have it inspected by a qualified electrician during its execution and on completion. He had installed the circuitry for a large dual-fuelled cooker but when he switched it on it kept tripping the RCD unit he had fitted. I went to see what he had done and explained to him why the RCD kept tripping. I told him to replace the RCD with a simple main switch and all would be well. Cookers are notorious for tripping RCDs because when their heating elements are cold there is sometimes a slight ingress of moisture in them which is enough to trip the sensitive RCD. Most electricians therefore connect the cooker circuit to that part of the distribution board controlled solely be the main switch, through a circuit-breaker of course. The connections in the replacement unit are exactly the same as those in the RCD unit that he had fitted so changing from one to the other was very simple to do. However on Monday afternoon I got a phone call asking me to check out his circuit again  as this time he had caused the main incoming cartridge fuse to blow cutting off the electrical supply to the whole house! That fuse was 60amp and would have needed a short-circuit to blow it under normal circumstances. Now I had been drinking wine in the afternoon so I couldn’t drive there to help him but as the job was less than a half-mile away he came to collect me. My first task was to see what he had done in replacing the RCD with the new main switch, knowing in advance in my mind that he had wired it incorrectly. I wasn’t surprised therefore to see that he had wired it incorrectly and had indeed caused a short-circuit. This meant a replacement cartridge fuse at the main supply but being late in the afternoon and as I didn’t have one to give to him I showed him how to make up a temporary fuse using bare wire clamped beside the blown fuse. This is a perfectly safe way to provide a temporary solution to re-instate the supply. I told him that he must buy a proper cartridge fuse the following day which he did. Yesterday he arrived at my door with a bottle of red wine as a small token of his appreciation and he invited me to join him in the pub for a few drinks. I declined the offer as it was time for my evening meal which was cooked and ready to be eaten. He is the kind of guy who can’t stop thanking me for things I have done for him in the past and it is somewhat embarrassing sometimes. He keeps telling me that he is in my debt and I keep telling him he isn’t!

Shirley Anne