Plugs - overheating?


Postby ams1979 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:09 pm

Hi,

I leave in a rented property & just turned the hot water tank on.

Left it switched on for about 30 minutes and then went to swtich it off and remove the plug. The plug and pins were boiling - so much so that I mildly burnt my finger.

Surely this isn't right?

Advice please.
Thanks.
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Postby ericmark » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:32 pm

Any poor connection can cause heat. Once hot it tends to anneal the metal so it loses pressure and then makes a poor connection which causes heat.

Only cure change plug and socket.
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Postby sparx » Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:59 pm

Hi if this is an immersion heater it should not be on a plug and socket!
It should be permanently connected by a fused connection unit (fused spur),
contact your land lord ASAP, this should have been picked up on the pre-rental electrical inspection report.
Sparx, (a landlord myself, so I know a report is required before each new tenant).
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Postby ericmark » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:33 am

[quote="sparx"]Hi if this is an immersion heater it should not be on a plug and socket!
It should be permanently connected by a fused connection unit (fused spur),
contact your land lord ASAP, this should have been picked up on the pre-rental electrical inspection report.
Sparx, (a landlord myself, so I know a report is required before each new tenant).[/quote]
Although I agree they should be on a fused spur where does it state this? I know for many years 15A sockets and plugs were fitted in this area to allow easy maintenance so a plumber could change an immersion heater without need for an electrician.

Although the pins of the BS 1363 plug especially since the extra insulation on pins was added is not really man enough for continuous unattended 13A supply it was designed for 13A and I would find it hard to criticise it use by others. The BS EN 60309-2 plug is far more suitable having longer pins and better contact however because they are not shuttered for domestic it would require interlinked isolator see 553.1.4 however the BS 546 from MK I understand is available as a shuttered version.

Although appendix 15 clearly says immersion heaters should not be connected to the general ring main I can't find anything which says you can't use a 13A plug and socket with a dedicated supply.

I hope you can prove me wrong as I don't like unattended 13A plugs with maximum ratting but if an immersion heater is not permitted what about other non portable equipment like dish washer, washing machine, tumble drier all which are normally over the 2Kw limit referred to in appendix 15 and over the weight to be considered as portable?
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Postby moggy1968 » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:01 pm

whilst a periodic inspection is reccommended between tenants it is not as far as I am aware (and as always I stand to be corrected) yet a legal requirement, regretably, otherwise we could have a nice steady stream of extra income!
of course if you don't have one done and something goes wrong you'rein the doodoo!!
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Postby ericmark » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:14 pm

The law is a little on vague side but here Google"esc.org.uk/business-and-community/guidance-for/landlords.html" is about the best unbiased guide. The Housing Act 2004 is the main document.

Like most breached of health and safety no one worries until something goes wrong but in industry any health and safety issue must be reported in writing this includes email and text messages but not even a message left on an answer machine. I would expect there is a similar requirement on rented property.

So the faulty socket must be reported to landlord in writing. If for example after the house burning down a tenant in general conversation was to say to fireman "I noted the burn mark on the socket" he could instead of dropping landlord in the frame actually drop himself in it especially if he admitted he had not reported it.

This paper trail means that the good landlord is protected as he can show he carried out all reasonable steps and visa versa with bad landlord.

Sorry to say the worst landlords are often the local council. Forcing landlords to do work is not easy. I know one landlord who wanted the tenants out and would have loved the council to condemn the house. And he claimed the work could not be safely carried out while the house was occupied. So telling a tenant the landlord "Must" do xyz is not as cut and dried as one first thinks.

We have no idea of the relationship between Landlord and Tenant and I know my daughter was told by her Landlord get it fixed and send him the bill and because she got it fixed on cheap he rewarded her with new fridge/freezer but with others it's like getting blood from a stone.

But it is the tenants health and safety and anyone who does not repair faulty items but continues to use them is really cutting off their nose to spite their face.

At £10 for new socket and plug if it was me I would first ask landlord then it would be fixed by some one before being recommissioned. That could be me who fixes it. But I would hope a landlord would want to do it using a qualified electrician if for no other reason but to ensure he had the paper trail to show he had done it correctly.

I would hope by now it's all fixed sorry to say many do not return to tell one the outcome.

My worry is telling someone what you believe is correct but one has missed something. In this case I would think if a dedicated circuit is used to the heater then one could without breaking any rules use a plug and socket arrangement. However one should not plug anything over 2KW permanently into the ring main. I think Sparx has assumed ams1979 is referring to plugging into the ring main and that could be the case. But "could" can get one into trouble. Also I may have made a mistake and there may be some regulation which says immersion heaters should not use a plug and socket arrangement maybe because of earthing requirements? Hence why I ask. I have made mistakes in the past and I am sure I will again so I am watching for Sparx to reply as I know his answer will be spot on.

And if I have it wrong then sorry. And I am sure he will understand.
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Postby ams1979 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:21 pm

Thanks for all your responses.

My landlady actually got rather shirty with me! Her partner rang me stating that I shouldn't be concerned.
However, having had other advice (from qualified M&E bloke at work) I rang again and left another message stating my concerns.

She did not return my call but left a letter through my door stating that 'despite my reluctant to accept her partners comments' she was going to get a spur connection done anyway!

Why would she do this if she didn't need to!!!!!!

Thanks again.
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Postby ericmark » Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:18 am

I am sure only selection of words but should not be a spur is should be dedicated radial normally with a fused connection unit.
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Postby sparx » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:40 pm

Hi all,
you are correct ERICMARK & others that there is no regulation Directly stating no plug/socket for immersion heater but it has always been considered very bad practice to over load a device with wiping contacts such as a socket at 3000w/230V = 13.04A, for long periods.
Also in lieu of specific regs. manufacturers recommendations hold sway as per reg. 134.1.1 and in all my time in the trade I don't remember any of them showing connections to anything other than a DP switch/FCU.

BTW is everyone aware of the requirement IN LAW - HSE that all landlords are required to check that the immersion heaters thermostat also has an over temperature cut out fitted, since several scaldings took place including a baby being killed by a failed thermostat a couple of years ago!

I know Eric is aware, and it has been discussed on here before.

Stat failed, water in cylinder boiled and water went up expansion pipe into plastic cold water head tank, circulated down feed pipe to cylinder until head tank full of near boiling water which collapsed and dumped full tank of water through ceiling of bedroom onto sleeping little person below!

All landlords have a serious duty of care for their tenants!

I would recommend any landlord or tenant to have a look at the Electrical safety council's 'landlords guide to electrical safety' free download at
www.esc.org.uk in particular pages 4-13 inc.
sorry to be a bore but my concience is clear!

regards SPARX
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Postby ams1979 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:08 pm

Thanks again everynone.

Last question, are landlords legally required to have RCD's fitted?
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Postby ericmark » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:15 pm

Thank you for the reminder about the non re-settable thermostat to be used with Plastic Tanks.
A point though this is only for plastic tanks and where a secondary form of water heating is used especially solid fuel i.e. where it can't be automatically controlled then the header tank needs to be made out of a material that will not fail with boiling water.
Also a re-settable over temperature thermostat is used so it can be re-set when tripped by the other form of heating.
This means:-.

You can buy the wrong type for plastic tanks as the re-settable are still sold for use with solid fuel cookers and steel header tanks.

Thank you for clearing up use of Plugs and I agree the 13A plug not really good enough but looks as if there may be a problem so let me define some words.

Ring main = This was invented during the 2nd world war together with 13A socket to save on copper with the post war building it was realised would be required. It allows the use of cable too light to take whole load by feeding it from both ends as a ring. The 13A socket is designed to take three 2.5mm cables so is well suited for the job plus all plugs are fused so the ring can be supplied with up to a 32A supply.

Spur = This sticks out of the ring like the spur on a riders boot and allows sockets to be connected up to 3 meters (433.2.2) away from main ring. However unless a fused connection unit is used the spur can only have one socket fitted. Where the wiring is surface a double socket can be fitted.

Radial = This does not return this method is used for feeding single items like ovens, cookers, immersion heaters. Is can also supply sockets but due to the limited size of cable which can be fitted into a 13A socket to standard size is not very popular as with buried cable at 32A it would need 6mm cable and only MK sockets can take 2 x 6mm cable. Surface clipped will allow 4mm but in the main the supply is reduced to 20A to feed 2.5mm radials. Most of Europe use radials with 16A supply. And cooker radials could have 45A supply. Traditionally (historically speaking) a 16A radial is used to feed immersion heaters.

Radials using 2.5mm cable would normally be terminated using a fused connection unit (FCU) which allows the change from 2.5mm twin and earth to flex for final connection. Because the FCU is also used to connect more than one extra socket to a ring main and sockets to a ring main where more that 3 meters of cable is used often people think of them as a spur unit. And a spur is very like a radial in many ways.

However for immersion heaters one would normally used a dedicated radial.

Also there is the replace and addition rule. If in your example the socket is faulty and it is replaced with a FCU then it could be done under the rules which applied at the time the original one was fitted.

If however the original was connected to ring main and this would likely cause the fuse/MCB to open then to avoid hazards and minimize inconvenience in the event of a fault (314.1) then likely an new radial would be required.

Any new wiring has to comply with today's regulations so either it will need running surface, or with special cable (Ali-tube) or have a RCD at supply.

This means that often what were small jobs a couple of years ago now escalate into quite expensive jobs now. Many a Landlord has been landed with really big bills to correct what is really a minor fault. Although I can't condone I can understand why Landlords are now reluctant to get involved with any electrical work.

This has not been helped by Electricians telling people they need new consumer units and failing to point out any cheaper options like using Ali-tube cable. Mind you with the price of Ali-tube cable I'm not surprised at the Electricians either as often they have to buy whole role. At £99 per role not cheap that's if you can find a supplier. Even big suppliers like TLC don't list it.

So yes your Landlord needs to fix it but don't be too hard on him likely he's been bit before and is dreading another big bill.
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