Okay folks, here is my report for April. I hope you are getting in the habit of getting yourself comfortable and sitting down with a cup of coffee to read my blog (when it eventually appears).
March, work-wise for me was nuts. I was completely full up with work and for somebody supposedly semi-retired, I was working nearly every day of every week – is that an infringement of my human rights? April turned out to be pretty much the same. It’s no good, I shall have to start beating clients off with a stick! However, I have said before that I really enjoy what I do now. I never really enjoyed working for others and I can easily say that this is the best part of my working life, - I get to pick and choose my clients, so if you are a potential customer don’t be afraid to drop me a line.
I am a very firm believer in CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and to the uninitiated this may sound pretty serious. But all it means is keeping up with developments in your area of expertise by reading articles, attending exhibitions or a taking part in occasional training courses. The most important thing is that you log it, so there is some sort of evidence. I really am a big fan of this because it gives us credit for what we may have always done and it encourages personal development.
In a similar vein I think we should try to learn something new every day. For example, the other day my esteemed colleague Dennis Latimer explained to me that the “I” in the classic Ohms Law triangle VIR actually comes from the French “Intensite` de Courant” in a nod to Marie Ampere. And as we may have to deal on an international level we need to recognise that “I” in formulas and not substitute with an “A”. So there you go, look how much culture you get from reading my blog! (and many thanks to Dennis).
Now I’m sure that many practising sparkies and householders have come across what is being recognised as “The Green Goo” coming from electrical wiring. I came across this several years ago and recognised it as some sort of reaction arising from the copper but didn’t know what else to do about the condition. When you do come across wiring like this, and it can be found in domestic/commercial/industrial wiring, you almost get the feeling that if you hung the wire into a bucket that goo might drain out. , then think again, THERE IS NO CURE. The condition is caused by a reaction between the copper conductors and a chemical used in certain types of 1970’s PVC. It cannot be rectified the only solution is REWIRE and I don’t very often say that as I realise what a job that is. When we first noticed this in the trade we thought it was just an aberration, a few isolated cases. But it has finally emerged as a recognised, ongoing problem. The conductor is degrading and can no longer carry its designated current rating. Although it must be realised that this is still fairly new to us. The advice I have seen so far is that this “goo” is non-carcinogenic, but there again, thirty years ago they said smoking was relaxing and good for you. I would treat this crap with great caution. Rewire, and dispose of the recovered cable with care.
Getting fed up with refurbing our bathroom now, and for any Stateside readers I am not talking about the toilet, In a country where life must have been very hard how did they get so genteel as to call a toilet/wc a “Bathroom”? Anyway, our bathroom (room with a bath in it) is dragging on an on. I’m beginning to think of retiring just to finish the job.
In my vision of future domestic wiring I see not only the sound and comms options that we are seeing now, but how about a 12/24V DC ring? It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to distribute AC about the house anymore. If you think about what you plug in around the house in areas other than the kitchen we are mostly using DC equipment: TV, DVDs, Sound systems, PCs/Laptops – why then are we plugging in to AC mains and converting it to DC? A DC distribution system would also mean that manufacturers would no longer need to provide that AC/DC interface in their equipment. Table lamps and mood lighting could also use a DC supply and we could in fact switch over to DC lighting throughout as LEDs are so efficient and reliable nowadays. And guess what? A DC distribution system would tie in very neatly with a battery storage unit (as currently being finished off by Elon Musk at Tesla Industries) to store power from your solar panels! The only place we really need AC is in the kitchen for the oven, washing machine and tumble dryer etc where we need a bit more electrical “Grunt”. I would say add a few AC sockets around the house for vacuum cleaning and an AC supply for an immersion heater and we’ve got it covered. So what do you think? Am I now an Eco Hero?
Now, a reminder to all of you with RCDs in your fuseboards (an RCD is that doohicky with the yellow “Test” button). You need to press the test button every 3 months to ensure the device operates and hasn’t stuck. The electrical regulations are a bit vague on this and simply say “RCDs should be tested in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions”. The manufacturers in turn say “test every 3 months”. So there you have it, an excuse ready-made for the insurance industry to get out of payment after an accident or incident. Watch the small print folks.
The guidance on RCDs applies across all types of installation regardless, Domestic, Industrial, Commercial and Agricultural. If you are planning a maintenance schedule, consider adding this in. I would also include “exercising” ordinary circuit breakers (turning on and off) to ensure they aren’t stuck – the insurance companies advise this every 18 months. If you are an installer, consider how many breakers you have installed and how many have been operated since your original install? I reckon I have installed breakers 30 years ago that have never been operated. That does beg the question “under fault conditions are they loose enough to operate?”.
As stated earlier, my order book for April was positively bulging, I have been working 5 days a week and driving around the country like a loony to fit it all in. Let’s see where I have been in a mix of 1/2/3 Day courses; Heathrow (twice), Walthamstow, Peterborough (twice), St Albans, Bury St Edmunds, Bedford, Miton Keynes, Nottingham, Horley to mention but a few.
My thoughts this month have been very much with my cousin’s husband Simon, recovering from some very serious surgery. On a pleasanter note, it was my son’s birthday the day after St Georges Day (he had to hang in for an extra day!) and we have a lot of Birthdays coming up, my favourite cousin in May, somebody else on May the 29th and loads through June and July. If it is your birthday approaching, enjoy. We only pass this way once, if you can enjoy without hurting or harming anyone else then let your hair down, have small sherry and relax.
Until next month Amigos and Amigas, Adios.