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COC's aren't worth poo these days!


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To revive this thread, how is a layperson supposed to know if they are being smoked or if the electrician just has a strange way of doing things (I am reminded of the old British Navy saying that there are three ways of doing things: The right way, the wrong way, and the navy way)?

I had a solar system installed. As part of this the DB was rewired (nearly all new circuit breakers, only the non-essential loads retained their existing breakers). They gave me a supplementary COC. 

Now (for reasons I don't need to go into here) we are replacing the DB. The electrician who will do that job has already told me of what (he says) are multiple code violations with the existing DB

1) Earth leakage is physically too high.

2) No label saying there are multiple electricity sources into the DB

3) A circuit breaker that is designed to protect live and neutral sides of one circuit is protecting the live of two circuits.

So we need more breakers. More labels on the board. And if the house catches fire tonight, my insurers will just toss any claim straight into the rubbish bin.

He says.

And I don't know. I don't want to say he's trying to make some extra dough, but two electricians (both wiremen and thus entitled to sign a COC) seem to have very different ideas of what is OK and what isn't.

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As someone who is in the process of selling right now, I can explain this to some extent. It's not the R50 on that one item. It's the combination of R50s across everything that is suddenly inexplicabl

I fully understand and from there my opinion of rather fix your electrical installation while you live there and reap the fruit of your investment yourself rather than fix it up for the next owner.

I mean like fittings not earthed etc, those are things that should not be missed, i get there can be a mess where you can't see it,  in this case, no they weren't switching the neutral, they were

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19 minutes ago, Bobster said:

1) Earth leakage is physically too high.

2) No label saying there are multiple electricity sources into the DB

3) A circuit breaker that is designed to protect live and neutral sides of one circuit is protecting the live of two circuits.

Think about it.

1.) Earth Leakage should be reachable to test. - logical

2.) Legitimate safety concern, hardly going to cost much.

3.) Maybe a) A ganged MCB so you lose two circuits, if either circuit is overloaded.

or, more worryingly

b) one of these MCB's that only has a neutral break, not an overload element, which means 1 cct. is unprotected. 

So no, I don't think this guy is pulling a fast one, I think he's doing you a solid.

 

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the earth leakage should not be too high that an adult cannot reach it clearly, i.e it should be unobstructed, so logically i agree if you need a ladder to get to it you have a problem.

labeling - again perfectly logical and really should cost more than a bit to mark up

 

the circuit breaker, sounds like a main switch, and that seems wrong and bad

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Thanks for the answers. I don't dispute his findings. The point about earth leakage makes sense. My wife can't reach it. The sparkie in question can reach it. I can, but only at full stretch. And that doesn't seem much good. 

Point is I have a COC for this work, and the layperson can't know if a proper inspection has been done

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8 hours ago, Bobster said:

Point is I have a COC for this work, and the layperson can't know if a proper inspection has been done

You are of course dead right, but then I am catching a flight today, later on I am going to driven in a taxi on busy roads, and even later in the day,  I'll behave myself ( NSFW .....edited) and remain healthy.

Life is geared up so that sometimes we are forced put are life in the hands of professionals.

Some of them, (but by no means all), know what they are doing and anticipate and mitigate the risks associated with their profession.

Was it not always thus?

You pays your money and you takes you're chances.

Edited by phil.g00
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  • 2 months later...

I love this post.

 

I do COCs on the side and I see both sides of the story.

First off all there are cheapskate electricians out there that do 8-10 inspections a day for R450 a shot and some of them seriously screw up. They are highly in demand as the general South African public support them and do all they can to get a COC as cheap as possible. The biggest portion of home owner  is selling a R2mil+ property but is questioning every R50 fault I find. Most used phrase is "But I bought the house like this" A socket outlet that needs replacement will make them groan like someone with a kidney stone passing. The SA public buy service by price and not by quality. 

The problem with the system is that the seller has to spent his money to fix up a property for the next owner to have a save building that is up to standard and he, the seller has no use of this upgrades. They just want the yellow paper and do not care in what condition the electrical installation is that they hand over to the next owner. It is like a complete fix of a car before selling it. New tires, shocks and upholstery all for the next owner.

I have a few clients that called me to COC there houses just to know that the house they stay in and raise there family is electrically save and up to standard. These customers usually do not mind to pay for a proper inspection and a real fix of there installation as they get the value for the money they have spent.

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On 2019/12/22 at 8:27 PM, pvdw22 said:

The biggest portion of home owner  is selling a R2mil+ property but is questioning every R50 fault I find.

As someone who is in the process of selling right now, I can explain this to some extent. It's not the R50 on that one item. It's the combination of R50s across everything that is suddenly inexplicably wrong... and no home owner can understand each system, and everyone is equally adamant that it is imperative to get this done.

In my case it was an electric fence. In 2010 there were no requirements for the fence. Now it needs a compliance certificate. The first company quoted me 15k to repair the fence. Essentially the cost of entirely replacing it. The second company quoted R2700.

Guess which one I used. You see, the regulations merely require that it is earthed at multiple points and that you have a gate contact (not dangling chains)... but the 15k guys faulted numerous extra things... things I would probably do if it was for myself.

I also had to fix a small roof leak (the kind I would not bother with myself, but was terribly worrying to the new owner). The electrical and beetle inspection is still upcoming. Now some electricians pretty much run around making sure your RCD works and that all the light switches and sockets are earthed... others wants to charge you for earthing the Satelite dish.

Then I also had to hand over 8k (around 4 months worth) to the municipality to clear the municipal account.

Mean while I am actually also buying a new place... so I'm over 100k into transfer- and lawyer fees...

Trust me. You may THINK the seller is thick in the dough cause he's selling his house at profit, but frankly this is a time of terrible terrible cash flow.

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On 2019/12/22 at 8:27 PM, pvdw22 said:

The problem with the system is that the seller has to spent his money to fix up a property for the next owner

This is true, Also estate agents normally have their own electrician doing all their COC’s and that electrician is normally the cheap one that will get the selling process moving. Most buyers won’t  know their COC is worth poo, only years later when they want to sell they might find out the installation was never really in order. If you get the electrician with a reputation to uphold the price will be higher than the guy that needs to sign of 10 houses a day. 

The COC can become a great negotiating tool on the price of a property or even on the reputation of the estate agent. if you can spot the problems before signing that offer. I’ve managed to get the estate agent to take legal action against a seller almost a year after my purchase, when I started to realize conditions  on the offer to purchase were never met. The seller had to unhappily spend about R35K nearly a year later on my home.

 

 

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On 2019/12/26 at 7:35 PM, plonkster said:

As someone who is in the process of selling right now, I can explain this to some extent. It's not the R50 on that one item. It's the combination of R50s across everything that is suddenly inexplicably wrong... and no home owner can understand each system, and everyone is equally adamant that it is imperative to get this done.

In my case it was an electric fence. In 2010 there were no requirements for the fence. Now it needs a compliance certificate. The first company quoted me 15k to repair the fence. Essentially the cost of entirely replacing it. The second company quoted R2700.

Guess which one I used. You see, the regulations merely require that it is earthed at multiple points and that you have a gate contact (not dangling chains)... but the 15k guys faulted numerous extra things... things I would probably do if it was for myself.

I also had to fix a small roof leak (the kind I would not bother with myself, but was terribly worrying to the new owner). The electrical and beetle inspection is still upcoming. Now some electricians pretty much run around making sure your RCD works and that all the light switches and sockets are earthed... others wants to charge you for earthing the Satelite dish.

Then I also had to hand over 8k (around 4 months worth) to the municipality to clear the municipal account.

Mean while I am actually also buying a new place... so I'm over 100k into transfer- and lawyer fees...

Trust me. You may THINK the seller is thick in the dough cause he's selling his house at profit, but frankly this is a time of terrible terrible cash flow.

Plonkster this I fully understand and in most cases this leads to the cheap sparky to be used and then the next owner of the property feels that his COC arn't worth poo.

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4 hours ago, pvdw22 said:

Plonkster this I fully understand and in most cases this leads to the cheap sparky to be used and then the next owner of the property feels that his COC arn't worth poo.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning this. I'm merely pleading for some clemency for the home owner who is trying to reduce the pain. I blame both kinds of opportunist 🙂

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9 hours ago, plonkster said:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning this. I'm merely pleading for some clemency for the home owner who is trying to reduce the pain. I blame both kinds of opportunist 🙂

I fully understand and from there my opinion of rather fix your electrical installation while you live there and reap the fruit of your investment yourself rather than fix it up for the next owner.

I speak to quite a lot of people selling there houses and I can assure you that by the time I walk into the house to do my inspection the seller is more than gatvol of agents,buyers,lawyers the City counsel,moving company. My results will not add to there joy!!🙄 

The moment I tell them that the perfectly functioning 20A circuit breaker for the geyser has to be replaced as the labeling is unreadable because they used it daily as a switch to save electricity I am in the dog box from there on until I pack my stuff and go😉

Lets be honest, this is not an easy topic and not an easy job if you do a COC according to regulation or even close to regulation. As I have mentioned in my previous posts and above again, COC or fix your house for your own use and come selling time the pain will be so much less and you will have the peace of mind that your family is living in an save electrical environment.

Maybe if there is a need I can compile a short list of tests and inspections for a DB to be done, general inspection guidelines and common faults I find when doing inspections. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, pvdw22 said:

Maybe if there is a need I can compile a short list of tests and inspections for a DB to be done, general inspection guidelines and common faults I find when doing inspections. 

That would be very helpful (if possible with reference to the applicable section of the law). Unfortunately some electricians use the COC to perform unnecessary work. For example the last time I sold a house the electrician insisted that all cables in the roof (including surfix) have to be in conduits. This has cost me a lot of money to do. In contrast to this the electrician who did the installation in my new house I build 3 years ago did not even fix the Surfix cables with saddle clamps to the rafters. I still don't know what the law actually requires.

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29 minutes ago, Fuenkli said:

That would be very helpful (if possible with reference to the applicable section of the law). Unfortunately some electricians use the COC to perform unnecessary work. For example the last time I sold a house the electrician insisted that all cables in the roof (including surfix) have to be in conduits. This has cost me a lot of money to do. In contrast to this the electrician who did the installation in my new house I build 3 years ago did not even fix the Surfix cables with saddle clamps to the rafters. I still don't know what the law actually requires.

Furfex is round, and not flat twin and earth. Round surfex has its own aluminium protection and can be used without conduit even outside.

Flat twin and earth can be used outside if trunked or used as is inside a roof or where not exposed to the elements.

 

Another big money making racket is double pole isolators for aircons as well as ceiling fans. Do or don't is the Q. The regulation is clear about this but plenty electricians prefer to ignore it or they are just not interested to read the regulations.

This all said, there are plenty guys out there that make me feel stupid when it comes to the finer detail regarding SANS 10142 and it is always a pleasure to talk to those people.

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  • 1 month later...

So I moved house, and after finding a few weird things that doesn't need opening anything (one plug does not work, another seems to have poor contact, the "underfloor heating" circuit also powers the laundry room and the light in the laundry room), I finally pulled open the DB. Now I want you to look at the two left-most breakers, a 30A and a 40A. They power two flats on the premises. Look at the wire shown with the yellow arrow... look where it ties into the supply...

There is a CoC for this place. I kid you not.

1266827939_WhatsAppImage2020-02-05at11_49_59.thumb.jpeg.b80ac2b952a6f12401777cb82e06dbdc.jpeg

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6 hours ago, plonkster said:

So I moved house, and after finding a few weird things that doesn't need opening anything (one plug does not work, another seems to have poor contact, the "underfloor heating" circuit also powers the laundry room and the light in the laundry room), I finally pulled open the DB. Now I want you to look at the two left-most breakers, a 30A and a 40A. They power two flats on the premises. Look at the wire shown with the yellow arrow... look where it ties into the supply...

There is a CoC for this place. I kid you not.

1266827939_WhatsAppImage2020-02-05at11_49_59.thumb.jpeg.b80ac2b952a6f12401777cb82e06dbdc.jpeg

Home owners would rather spend money on paint than electrical stuff.

You can get the coc supplier in and settle this amicably - at his cost of course. Which should include another pro issuing the coc.

Or he can lose his certificate ..

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12 hours ago, plonkster said:

There is a CoC for this place. I kid you not.

The DB normally gives you a good indication of other surprises you will find in the rest of the installation, like wiring in ceilings and kitchens, outbuildings and any add-ons. It might be worth it to get a proper inspection report done by a reputable electrician because otherwise you will end up paying for something that needs fixing that was supposed to be fixed.

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16 hours ago, Gerrie said:

The DB normally gives you a good indication of other surprises you will find in the rest of the installation, like wiring in ceilings and kitchens, outbuildings and any add-ons

I think this bit was done precisely when the outbuildings were added (because the breakers to the far left are for the outbuildings).

The electrician who CoC'ed the place did a lot of work on the outbuildings already. Issolators missing on extractor fans for example. The previous owner told me that she does not understand how this happened, I replied that issolators on bathroom extractor fans has been regulation for over a decade. Whoever did the electrical on the outbuildings took a few shortcuts.

My concern is that the 30A and 40A breakers for the outbuildings feed from the main supply (not switched by the 63A main breaker). That means I technically have this wired so that in a bad sitaution I could draw over 100A without any breaker tripping on my side (on a 60A line). There's probably something in the street that will trip... not something I want to happen. Or that cable will go up in smoke, also not something I want to happen.

It seems I can at least get it safe by just moving the cabling to the other side of the main breaker. The laundry-room sharing the underfloor heating circuit (which is not really used) is not too big a concern to me, but I'm not sure if you're allowed to put a light circuit on there. No idea how easy it would be to reroute. Will see in the coming week.

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2 hours ago, plonkster said:

I could draw over 100A without any breaker tripping on my side (on a 60A line).

Yes, I see no overload protection on incoming, only a isolator as main switch. I think it’s legal to have only a isolator as main switch but then there must be overload protection upstream. The problem is you might have to call the municipality to reset every time you have a overload. 

 

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1 hour ago, plonkster said:

I don’t agree with the spec of live copper, I was taught the green lever is only a isolator and white lever has overload protection. If you look at the code QA-S the “S” stands for switch.

If you check CBI website than the normal overload protection breaker has the same code excluding the “S” than it has O/L protection. I think live copper has the wrong specs for the green lever on their site. The same with that earth leakage in your DB it has a green lever which is the one without O/L. The white lever has O/L and is about double the price. You can use green lever E/L but need to feed it from a white lever circuit breaker rated for the wire size.🙂

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1 hour ago, Gerrie said:

I don’t agree with the spec of live copper, I was taught the green lever is only a isolator and white lever has overload protection. If you look at the code QA-S the “S” stands for switch.

If you check CBI website than the normal overload protection breaker has the same code excluding the “S” than it has O/L protection. I think live copper has the wrong specs for the green lever on their site. The same with that earth leakage in your DB it has a green lever which is the one without O/L. The white lever has O/L and is about double the price. You can use green lever E/L but need to feed it from a white lever circuit breaker rated for the wire size.🙂

Sans prescribes a two pole isolator in addition to the rcd. You need to buy this for the amps required for the db.

Every mcb is an overload which must be suitable for its purpose and wire size.

I steer clear of combination rcd + overload as its not a sans requirement and horribly expensive. When a combination rcd trips the normal person would not know whether it was an overload or an earth leakage.

Edited by Johandup
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1 hour ago, Gerrie said:

I don’t agree with the spec of live copper, I was taught the green lever is only a isolator and white lever has overload protection. If you look at the code QA-S the “S” stands for switch.

You're right!

I've seen this sort of thing before My in-laws' place has the big old 35A breaker out back (when it trips you have to run around the back of the house and go turn it back on), and then inside the house you only have an isolator. If that was the case here, then it makes sense that the sub-DBs ties off the top of the breaker (overcurrent is upstream). Thing is... I've walked the property, and I can't find "upstream". I found the "oostersee" box, but there is nothing there.

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23 minutes ago, plonkster said:

makes sense that the sub-DBs ties off the top of the breaker

Those sub DB’s should go to the load side of the main switch as you mentioned before, the reason being you can have only one main switch that needs to switch off that entire DB. The way its now if you switch off that main you still have live breakers in that board.

To solve that you can install a 63A single pole circuit breaker (white lever) just before or after that 63A isolator, than you are ok should you have a overload it will trip right there and easy to reset. 

I actually have one of those green lever isolator like yours lying in the garage and on it’s side it reads:

Duty : UNINTERRUPTED

so that switch will just burn it’s contacts when overloaded. 

The council normally install a 80A on their side unless there is fuses with bloudraad. that should sort things out 😁

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On 2020/02/06 at 8:12 AM, plonkster said:

So I moved house, and after finding a few weird things that doesn't need opening anything (one plug does not work, another seems to have poor contact, the "underfloor heating" circuit also powers the laundry room and the light in the laundry room), I finally pulled open the DB. Now I want you to look at the two left-most breakers, a 30A and a 40A. They power two flats on the premises. Look at the wire shown with the yellow arrow... look where it ties into the supply...

There is a CoC for this place. I kid you not.

1266827939_WhatsAppImage2020-02-05at11_49_59.thumb.jpeg.b80ac2b952a6f12401777cb82e06dbdc.jpeg

Hi @plonkster, I am not seeing the issue with the highlighted wire connection itself... It is just extending the connection of the thicker wire, since I can't see where that thicker wire connects, I am not immediately seeing any problem. If the thicker wire ties directly into the Mains (Municipal Supply) at this point then there still might not be a point for concern if there is a seperate Earth Leakage in the outside area. It is fairly common to NOT connect earth leakage from one DB board to another, since you have no idea what is going to be connected at that DB, and you don't want a earth leakage at that DB tripping a main DB earth leakage. From the SANS 10142, you only apply earth leakage to equipment directly fed from this DB. The only issue I see is if this is a completely unprotected circuit to the lights and outlets at the 2 flats.

PS: This sometimes happens when someone has installed a direct connection and TOLD the electrician that a seperate DB board is going to be installed.

Edited by KLEVA
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Why would anyone in their right mind trust a seller of a property to provide a COC for what is most likely going to be the biggest investment they are likely to make in their entire life...where the safety of your family is of utmost importance? 

 

 

 

 

 

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