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Are Loose Connections Really That Serious?

A while ago, I wrote a post about poor or loose connections inside sockets and switches. Since then I've had quite a few people asking if that's really a big deal, so I thought I'd share what I found in a property the other day.
The client contacted me because she'd smelt a "fishy" smell coming from a socket and had seen smoke coming out of it when she plugged something in.
Smoke coming from anything electrical is a pretty good indicator that something's quite seriously wrong, so I made sure I went in the same day.

Very Dangerous Wiring

I was called out recently by a repeat client, who said her bathroom light had started flickering. When I climbed up into the loft to check the problem, I found this.
The wiring had been left sitting right on top of the light fitting. Over time, the heat from the light had burned through the insulation and melted the connector blocks, causing the connections to loosen. It was almost impossible for me to tell which was the Live wire and which was the Neutral; they were all burned black. I had to cut out and replace that entire section.

How not to install a new consumer unit

I was asked a couple of weeks ago to go and look at a house which the owners rent out. The fuse board was replaced late last year by someone employed by the management company handling the tenancy. The owners told me that they weren't happy with where the board had been sited, and would I take a look and give them my opinion?
I met the client at the house and was shown the new consumer unit; I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry!

An interesting position for a fuse board

As you can see, the board had been fixed extending beyond the edge of the ceiling, making it impossible to bring any cables into that side of the board.

I am furious

I've just completed a job which, while extensive, should have been pretty straightforward. I say "should"; it would have been if the last electrician who worked on the house had been anywhere near competent.
When I began work in the house, I found more safety issues than I like to think about. The two worst were;
Seven (yes, SEVEN!) cables, including a cooker cable, all crammed inside a length of trunking that was only big enough for two or three at best. When I separated out the cables, the ones at the back were warm to the touch!

What are some people thinking?

I was called in recently to replace a couple of large fluorescent ceiling lights. When I took the old fittings down, I found they'd been put up with ordinary screws, just screwed into the plaster of the ceiling. These lights were installed by a "professional". Five-foot fluorescent lights are heavy; how on earth did they think the lights would stay up?
My advice? If you're having ceiling lights put up, ask the installer how they're being secured. A good tradesman will be happy to answer your questions.