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  • FIRST POST
    • Markbfc22
    • By Markbfc22 3rd Jan 18, 10:38 PM
    • 2Posts
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    Markbfc22
    Purchased a house which is insufficiently earthed
    • #1
    • 3rd Jan 18, 10:38 PM
    Purchased a house which is insufficiently earthed 3rd Jan 18 at 10:38 PM
    Hi all

    Just after a little advice following the somewhat surprising discovery that our house we purchased 2 months ago isn't earthed properly. Apologies if the terminology is incorrect below, I'm far from knowledgeable in electrics!

    The problem:
    It looks as though the electrical system has previoisly had a TN-C-S arrangement, but at some point has been changed to a TT system. The current earthing consists of a 10mm rod which goes around 1 foot into the ground. A local electrician said the rod should be 16mm and go around 1.5 meters into the ground. There is also no bonding on the gas pipes to make them safe in the event of an electrical fault. The reading when tested on sockets was 200ohms.

    The question:
    When we purchased the house, we decided to get the more expensive detailed survey by RICS. We also had local solicitors acting on our behalf throughout the purchase. Before I check back through the paperwork and email trails, I was after a little guidance to understand if this should have been picked during the searches/surveys, or if it was our responsibility.

    The electrician advised that it wouldn't pass a gas safety certificate due to the gas pipes not being bonded, and would obviously also fail the electrical safety check. The good news is the RCD box is working correctly to trip if anything did go.

    Thanks
Page 1
    • m0bov
    • By m0bov 3rd Jan 18, 10:43 PM
    • 1,299 Posts
    • 884 Thanks
    m0bov
    • #2
    • 3rd Jan 18, 10:43 PM
    • #2
    • 3rd Jan 18, 10:43 PM
    Did you pay for a gas survey? A buildings survey does not go into much detail if any on electrics. Its always worth getting an ECIR done as you now know. I would still get one done ASAP.
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 3rd Jan 18, 10:48 PM
    • 6,517 Posts
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    00ec25
    • #3
    • 3rd Jan 18, 10:48 PM
    • #3
    • 3rd Jan 18, 10:48 PM
    your responsibility rests with whatever survey you commissioned. If that was an electrical survey from a qualified electrician then it comes down to what your ordered him to do.

    I have no idea how my house is earthed, although i do recall a tradesman (gas fitter? ) did once tell me that the bonding on the water pipes under the bath was not how it was done anymore. That said he then left them as they were saying there was no reason to change it.

    what is your actual problem? You think the survey missed something that you now want to get the surveyor to pay for? You think the vendor lied? Good luck with either of those battles.
    • cjmillsnun
    • By cjmillsnun 3rd Jan 18, 11:27 PM
    • 602 Posts
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    cjmillsnun
    • #4
    • 3rd Jan 18, 11:27 PM
    • #4
    • 3rd Jan 18, 11:27 PM
    I don't see how you would've gone from a TN-C-S to a TT.

    The property will be either TN-C-S or TT.

    It may be upgraded to TN-C-S from TT but never the other way. The reason for this being that the responsibility for the earthing changes and there are different safety requirements.

    There are three different types of earthing present in UK homes. I'll describe each in a single phase supply as very few residential supplies are three phase.

    In all cases one outlet of the transformer (we'll call it the neutral from now on), is referenced to the ground (this is done by literally connecting the outlet to a rod in the ground.)

    TN-S (Terre Neutral - Separate). Terre is the French for ground or earth (and is pronounced terra) The armouring of the cable into the home is the earthing conductor. This is either lead or steel armouring. The live and neutral conductors (not the current terminology but for ease of explanation) are in the centre. The responsibility for the earth loop back to the transformer is with the distribution network.

    At the house, the live and neutral wires enter the cut out, the live is fused (either 60, 80 or 100A) and both wires leave the cut out and go to the meter.

    The earth wire is clamped to the armouring and enters either a main earthing terminal (basically a terminal block that all the bonding will come from) or direct into the consumer unit.

    There are lots of houses like this and this type of arrangement was common in installs right up to the 70s.

    TN-C-S (Terre Neutral - Combined - Separate. Also known as PME - Protective Multiple Earthing). A concentric cable supplies the house (The live wire is in the centre, surrounded by the neutral). Both enter and leave the cutout as before. However the earth wire going to the main earth terminal or consumer unit also goes to the cutout and connects to the neutral terminal. All along the cable from the transformer to the properties supplied, at regular intervals, the neutral is referenced to the ground again. This is normally what is used for new installations nowadays. It replaced TN-S mainly on the grounds of cost, and on the fact that the copper conductor used for the neutral and earth has a much lower impedance than lead or steel. Again the responsibility for the earth loop back to the transformer is with the distribution network.

    T-T (Terre-Terre). With this setup the electric distribution network's responsibility for earthing stops at the transformer being referenced to ground. This often happens when your electricity is brought in via a pole and overhead line rather than from underground cables.

    Instead it is the consumer's responsibility to provide the earthing, in the form of an earthing rod driven into the ground. The resistance is high, into the 10s of ohms. An RCD in the main supply is compulsory as a fault current may not blow fuses or trip breakers as it will be low.

    Lesson over.

    Sorting out the issues isn't insurmountable. A new earthing rod (you may as well leave the old one in as well) and putting the bonding in will sort it. It'll cost a bit, but unless you ordered a specialist electrical survey, no-one is responsible.
    • deannatrois
    • By deannatrois 3rd Jan 18, 11:29 PM
    • 5,426 Posts
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    deannatrois
    • #5
    • 3rd Jan 18, 11:29 PM
    • #5
    • 3rd Jan 18, 11:29 PM
    What does the survey say about the electrics? I suspect, even though you paid for a full survey it will just say electrics don't conform to current regulations and a specialist electrical survey is recommended. That is all they have to do.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 4th Jan 18, 4:26 AM
    • 25,327 Posts
    • 93,101 Thanks
    Davesnave
    • #6
    • 4th Jan 18, 4:26 AM
    • #6
    • 4th Jan 18, 4:26 AM
    The question:
    When we purchased the house, we decided to get the more expensive detailed survey by RICS...... I was after a little guidance to understand if this should have been picked during the searches/surveys, or if it was our responsibility.
    Originally posted by Markbfc22
    An RICS surveyor isn't qualified to assess electrics.

    Searches have nothing to do with it.

    If you didn't commission an electrical report, you have no come-back.
    If you are finding huge gaps between your paragraphs and use Firefox, MSE know about the problem. However, they aren't necessarily doing anything about it yet....
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5844460
    • Surrey_EA
    • By Surrey_EA 4th Jan 18, 8:41 AM
    • 1,553 Posts
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    Surrey_EA
    • #7
    • 4th Jan 18, 8:41 AM
    • #7
    • 4th Jan 18, 8:41 AM
    What does the survey say about the electrics? I suspect, even though you paid for a full survey it will just say electrics don't conform to current regulations and a specialist electrical survey is recommended. That is all they have to do.
    Originally posted by deannatrois
    Exactly, virtually every survey I have ever seen says something along the lines of: "the electrics have not been tested, and a specialist inspection is recommended."

    Part of surveyor backside covering, as they are not electricians.
    • ProDave
    • By ProDave 4th Jan 18, 10:08 AM
    • 903 Posts
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    ProDave
    • #8
    • 4th Jan 18, 10:08 AM
    • #8
    • 4th Jan 18, 10:08 AM
    A few points.

    Did you get an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) done before you bought it? If not then tough, you chose to buy it as seen and untested.

    200 ohms on TT WILL pass an EICR as long as there is an rcd on all circuits.

    It should be a trivial job to change the earth rod for a better one but depending on your ground it might not make much difference.

    It is also easy put the earth bonding in place for the gas pipe. Again if you did not have a gas test, then you chose to buy it as seen, untested.

    Perhaps now is the time to get an EICR done, I suggest NOT by the electrician who told you 200 ohms is no good as he does not seem competent.

    I would also want to know from that competent electrician if there really was an TNS or TNCS earth presented, that is no being used. He could test such an earth and if found to be good, re connect it. If there is a TNS or TNCS earth presented that is not testing okay, then it is a fault to report to your DNO for them to fix.
    • ReadingTim
    • By ReadingTim 4th Jan 18, 10:30 AM
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    ReadingTim
    • #9
    • 4th Jan 18, 10:30 AM
    • #9
    • 4th Jan 18, 10:30 AM
    The question:
    When we purchased the house, we decided to get the more expensive detailed survey by RICS. We also had local solicitors acting on our behalf throughout the purchase. Before I check back through the paperwork and email trails, I was after a little guidance to understand if this should have been picked during the searches/surveys, or if it was our responsibility.
    Originally posted by Markbfc22
    Given you went ahead and purchased the house anyway, it's your responsibility now. Accordingly, your time, energy and money are probably better spent rectifying the problem rather than trying to apportion blame for it.

    Furthermore, if you think you're going to be able to get the surveyor to foot the bill for sorting it out on the basis they "missed it", you're going to be sorely disappointed. Sorry that this isn't what you want to hear.
    • ProDave
    • By ProDave 4th Jan 18, 10:38 AM
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    ProDave
    Almost certainly, the surveyor would have recommended an EICR for the electrics and a gas safe test. That's standard boiler plate stuff on a survey report.
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 4th Jan 18, 11:38 AM
    • 37,310 Posts
    • 157,180 Thanks
    silvercar
    The electrician advised that it wouldn't pass a gas safety certificate due to the gas pipes not being bonded, and would obviously also fail the electrical safety check.
    If that was the only issue, it would pass but with an advisory that the gas pipes weren't bonded.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 4th Jan 18, 11:45 AM
    • 44,484 Posts
    • 52,824 Thanks
    G_M
    You chose to buy the property. It's yours now. Look after it.

    Get 2 more electricians round and ask all 3 exactly what work needs doing and why, and for quotations.

    Then decide how much of the work is really needed, and which electrician to employ.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 4th Jan 18, 12:57 PM
    • 6,570 Posts
    • 8,539 Thanks
    TBagpuss
    Surveys don't include electrics or gas as surveyors are not trained as electricians or gas safe engineers.

    If you paid of a separate electrical survey then you may have a complaint against the person who carried that out if they failed to flag up the concerns.

    However, assuming that isn't the case, then it is 'buyer beware' and it would be your responsibility to deal with it.
    • knightstyle
    • By knightstyle 4th Jan 18, 5:49 PM
    • 4,733 Posts
    • 1,758 Thanks
    knightstyle
    Bonding is not required to gas and water pipes when the house has only plastic pipes. But parts which are metal may need to be bonded.
    The regs. can be a minefield and as others have said it needs a qualified tradesman with up to date regs qualification to check things.
    Our 10 year old house has no bonding at the meters as the pipes are plastic but the metal kitchen sink and the airing cupboard pipes and tank are bonded.
    • Markbfc22
    • By Markbfc22 4th Jan 18, 8:57 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Markbfc22
    Thanks for all the replies. For those who may have got the wrong end of the stick looking at some replies, I'm not trying to apportion the blame to anyone, I was just explaining the problem and asking whose responsibility it was before deciding my next step.

    I'll get a few more electricians round and look at a EICR and then take it from there.

    Lesson for next house purchase, get a gas and electrical safety certificate!
    • baldelectrician
    • By baldelectrician 5th Jan 18, 2:46 AM
    • 2,183 Posts
    • 1,366 Thanks
    baldelectrician
    It is the owners responsibility


    For info on wiring checks (EICR's) see link
    https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/mediafile/100740439/Best-Practice-Guide-4-Issue-4-.pdf


    I would always recommend an earthing system provided by a supplier (then said supplier is legally bound to maintain it)


    Call them and ask if your property is suitable for TNC-S (PME) , I hope you get a call handler who knows what you are asking
    baldly going on...
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