DIY Doctor

Old fuse box - new kitchen being installed

Postby mandy180 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:11 am

Hi - I am getting a new kitchen fitted in a couple of weeks by Magnet. I have had a couple of electricians round this morning to fix a cable we drilled through by accident and they told me it was illegal for Magnet to fit our new kitchen with this old fuse box. We are replacing the board anyway as we too agree it is ancient (uses the old fuse wire etc - is at least 50 years old!)
I rang magnet as the fitter for them came round last week and didn't mention anything about the fuse box being a problem. They contacted the fitter and he assured me there is no regulation that the fuse box is too old and fitting our new kitchen won't be a problem. Now I don't know who to believe - should Magnet carry out any checks or give me any kind of certificates to show me the electrics are safe? The electricians also mentioned I would need separate boxes (or something) to be able to switch off the individual appliances - is this true? Some help or guidance here would really help!!!Thanks
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Postby sparx » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:00 pm

It depends on what Magnet are doing, if no changes to the wiring, ie moving/adding points then no need to update.
However as is more likely they are altering/adding to the system then it is highly unlikely they won't have to update the consumerunit as any new circuit must have as a minimum RCD protection.
Without knowing more I would let them know you are expecting at least a certificate for works done and as in a kitchen that it will be registered with local building control under part P.
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Postby ericmark » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:06 am

There are two things. Part P is law and the Wiring regulations are not law but can be used in a court of law and most of Part P is based on them so in real terms the only way to comply with Part P is to follow wiring regulations.

Every few years these regulations are updated to include changes in materials and general practice plus results of risk assessments etc.

However there is no need to keep up-dating ones property, but anything new must comply.

So for example in my parents house when the new kitchen was fitted a SWA cable was taken from the incomer to a mini consumer unit which just supplied the kitchen as it was know the house wiring was not up to scratch. Even then when the ceiling was replaced there were problems with the light as there was no earth on the lighting and I had to find a class two florescent to replace the class one that my dad had fitted.

In real terms since there is a consumer unit in the kitchen it does not really need isolators for cooker, oven, washing machine however they were still fitted. The washing machine is really important as if a weight become lose one can't get near the machine. So one needs to be able to unplug or switch it off without having to touch the machine it's self. Although no regulation to say this.

Hob and oven should have local isolation and it is common to also provide sockets for fridge and freezer behind the units so they also need remote switches so you don't have to drag out a full unit to switch off to defrost. However again sockets could be placed so you can access them.

Any new cable or socket will need RCD protection. It would be unusual for a whole kitchen to be fitted without moving sockets to suit so unlikely that the work could be done without fitting a new consumer unit. However not impossible. Using Ali-tube cable or surface cable the cable would not need RCD protection and one could use RCD sockets. Although the latter are expensive.

I found when may kitchen was fitted many years ago they did not move any sockets but where they became hidden they basiclly made up an extension lead which allowed it still to be used. This was not really compliant as the original sockets were no longer accessible for testing or to show where cable run in the wall. However at that time there was no Part P. But I have done the same with my radiator there is a socket behind the radiator as originally I was going to use a myson then changed my mind.

So really you have to decide if you want to keep strictly to the rules or are more interested in real risks. My father-in-law said to me I would never forgive myself if I didn't fit RCD's and one of my children were injured. So I many years ago fitted RCD's on everything. My son became a radio ham (GW7PVD) at 14 years old and tripped the RCD quite a few times. Later he became an electrician and is now studying for his degree so seems I made the right move.

I would suggest the same applies to you. It does not really matter about regulations you want RCD protection anyway.

Problem is old wiring will often trip a RCD and sometimes with the greatest will the only way would be a re-wire. This is the case with my dad's house and at 86 he says he does not want to live on a building site and will not allow me to re-wire the house. And likely it will last longer than him so I have to just bite my tongue.

I have said many times one has to take a risk assessment and decide if for you it worth the risk or not. If you don't do any DIY then likely risk is low. If you do DIY then risk is a lot higher. My dad is past DIY now.

We can give you all the rules. But I think better to use some common sense.
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Postby kbrownie » Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:14 pm

I agree with sparx, it depends on what work if any is being done to the electrics in your kitchen.
The latest requirements (17th edition wiring regs) have implemented the use of RCDs on most Domestic circuits.
There are ways and means, depending on the method of instalment used, that you could get around the alterations without the use of RCDs, but this will mean either mechanically protecting the cable, the cable being buried at least 50mm in to wall or the cable being surface mounted.
The other option to avoid a fuse box change, would be to protect the alterations via external RCDs such as RCD protected spurs.
There is also a requirement that integrated appliance have a means of isolation that is easily accessible, this could be an above work top isolator or the socket outlet serving the appliance is located in an accessible location, such as the cabinet next to the appliance. It is preferred that a socket outlet is fitted to the fabric of the building and best practised, but it is not a requirement.
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