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  1. #1
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    Glad to be alive - serious post.

    Had a bit of a nightmare weekend when we discovered that the consumer unit had developed a fault and the power started becoming intermittent.

    Managed to get an electrician out yesterday and TBH I am happy to still be here. The RCCB has melted and the heat has buckled the busbar. Glad we were in TBH as I dread to think what might have happened if we were out and this had gotten worse.
    The electricians opinion was that the RCCB hadn't been 100% seated correctly and this was causing a minor arcing problem which over time caused the damage to the RCCB, MCB and busbar.

    All offending items have now been replaced and I am getting a full EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) carried out later in the week just to be 100% sure going forward.

    Photos of the offending article:

  2. #2
    I still don't have a member
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    Similar happened to a friend in November except it had actually progressed to a fire, the unit was in the garage. They have a positive pressure air system installed they were about to go to bed when their bungalow started to fill with smoke, could not find the source but had called the fire brigade. Her OH went to check the garage and found molten plastic dripping on his motorbike and arcing electricity!! The problem was a fault on/in the incoming line to the consumer unit. Very very scary as you say good job you were at home and as my friend said it was fortunate they were still awake as it was all so quick. Physical damage was limited to the garage but the home was heavily smoke damaged and they were without power and heating for over 48 hours.
    A fully paid up member of the CRAFT Club

    I failed to dive in Antartica
    I used to have a handle on life but it broke

  3. #3
    Established TDF Member Nickpicks's Avatar
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    Wow. I'm surprised that there was enough current to buckle the busbar without tripping the main fuse at the meter.
    Glad you're OK
    The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.

  4. #4
    Gone diving back later Vanny's Avatar
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    Make sure you have working smoke alarms guys. Glad your ok.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cazyoung View Post
    Similar happened to a friend in November except it had actually progressed to a fire, the unit was in the garage. They have a positive pressure air system installed they were about to go to bed when their bungalow started to fill with smoke, could not find the source but had called the fire brigade. Her OH went to check the garage and found molten plastic dripping on his motorbike and arcing electricity!! The problem was a fault on/in the incoming line to the consumer unit. Very very scary as you say good job you were at home and as my friend said it was fortunate they were still awake as it was all so quick. Physical damage was limited to the garage but the home was heavily smoke damaged and they were without power and heating for over 48 hours.
    Glad to hear they are ok.

    I don't know how long the problem had existed as the consumer unit is in a cupboard under the stairs but it certainly was a shock to the system seeing the damage. I have no idea how close it was to becoming a fire and thankfully will never now know.

    As Vanny says, check your smoke alarms and if you are at all unsure about your electrics, pay to get them checked. I'm paying for a full electrical condition report on the back of this but what is money compared to being sure about my safety.

  6. #6
    Happy atheist, despite the "evidence"...
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    Good that you're OK.

    In the facility where I used to work, quite by chance I went ont the locked room with the electrical distribution, where I detected the unpleasant aroma of heated metal and dust.

    Long story short: big connection had come slightly loose and started to arc, causing heat which was causing causing carbon build up, causing increased resistance, causing heat... you can see where this is going.

    No great drama, but a fun night followed when I coordinated the distibution's replacement. We had various channels to keep on air, so everything that could be powered down was powered down (think Apollo 13, but without the jeapordy), to minimise the drain on the UPS. I reckoned we had 20 minutes tops to get everything sorted, and the sparks did a mighty job, prepping everything ahead of the big shut off and whacking the replacements in mob-handed.

    I sweated the whole time as the UPS's plaintive beeping became more insistent until, with an estimated three minutes' autonomy left, power was regained.

    We learnt from the experience, and instituted a thermal monitoring programme where every six months the electrical distribution was photographed with thermal cameras, and all major conections checked for tightness.

    At home, I bought a cheapo laser thermometer from Lidl and point it at various bits of my tiny domestic installation from time to time, when there's a lot of load on the system; washing machine and tumble drier, for instance.

    I'd recommend doing the same.

    It's not a substitute for the smoke alarm, but prevention's usually quite a good concept.
    Happy to be a feminist SJ(K)W snowflake in a godless universe, no matter what some experts think. And Braun was a twat who's not missed. At all.

  7. #7
    Established TDF Member Steve Clark's Avatar
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    Edit : actually this isn't exactly what I thought.

    They are clip-in MCB's. Not sure how the terminal on the bottom the mains RCD works? Seems a bit of an odd design if you can't actually tighten up a terminal for something that could be taking 80A.


    Fires like these are one of the reasons why new domestic consumer units (18th edition) are made of metal and have fire-sealed glands on all the cable entries.
    Last edited by Steve Clark; 13-04-2021 at 03:10 PM.

  8. #8
    Established TDF Member Steve Clark's Avatar
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    The ultimate story of this was an unnamed major electrical contractor taking an NIC-EIC inspector into the main LV switchroom of an unnamed indoor ski slope in the NW of England as part of their annual audit. A 400A 3-phase isolator was actually on fire, inside the panel, during the inspection. They had full records of all the terminals being torqued up. Only they weren't.

    Only a rapidly organised thermographic survey kept them their NIC ticket.

  9. #9
    Hail the Children of LLyr
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    Glad it didn't turn out any worse.

    We're in an old house and still on wire fuse in holders. Though it would probably be a good idea to have them updated, they do the job, blowing when various MODERN safe devices have played up. I have made sure they do all have the appropriate rated fuse wire in, just replacing all of them with new fuse wire (NOT nails or foil) some time ago.
    "...are we human, or are we diver?"

  10. #10
    Established TDF Member steelemonkey's Avatar
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    Am I doing something wrong then?
    Paul.
    If God had meant us to breathe underwater, he would have given us larger bank balances.
    Human beings were invented by water as a means of moving itself from one place to another.


 
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