electrical systems will deteriorate over a period of time
and should, therefore, be inspected on a regular basis. A
visual inspection by the house holder is comparatively easy
and any physical damage to wiring, both internally and externally
can usually be spotted. It is recommended that this is carried
out annually. A full inspection by a qualified electrician
is advised after the first 10 years following a complete rewiring
and then every 5 years thereafter. You may wish to be assured
that any contractor is NICEIC approved.
wiring connections to a property, including aerial leads and
supply cables to external chimney smoke extract fans, must
be spaced a minimum of 300mm away from the thatch and any
wire netting. If the mains connection is by an older type
of supply using 2 or more separate wires, instead of the modern
single, black PVC covered cable, it would be advisable to
contact the supply company for advise.
‘early warnings’ of electrical faults occur, such
as frequently blowing fuses or light bulbs, or warm plugs
or cables be noticed, then have them investigated immediately.
RCDs & MCBs
fitting of a Residual Current Device (RCD) is the best safeguard
if fitted at the consumer unit (fuse box) to cover all circuits.
Some modern consumer units are available with a built in RCD
so that any ‘essential’, or lighting, circuits
can be excluded from the parts of the electrical system automatically
switched off when the RCD detects a fault and trips out. As
we are concerned with the prevention of fire, and not just
electrical shock, it is recommended that no circuits are excluded
in a thatched property.
use of miniature circuit breakers (MCB) instead of fuses is
security lighting gets very hot, especially the popular halogen
bulb types:- make sure it is sited well away from the thatch.
not allow the use of socket adaptors for the ‘stacking’
of plugs, but follow the rule of one socket, one plug. Unplug
any non-essential appliances before going to bed, or on holiday.
Due to the number of fires that start in washing machines,
tumble dryers and dishwashers it is inadvisable to leave them
running whilst out, or asleep.
is possible to design electrical circuitry so that there is
no wiring within the roof space, by having wall mounted instead
of ceiling mounted lighting for example, and this is the best
option. Do not have recessed ceiling lights on the upper floor,
unless separated from the loft by 30 minutes of fire resistance,
with allowance made for ventilation to prevent over-heating
of the fitting. However, if wiring in the loft cannot then
the following precautions are advised to minimise the likelihood
of an electrical fault fire.
mice and rats all seem to enjoy gnawing PVC cable. Unless
the loft can be made vermin free, which is difficult to guarantee
with thatch, wiring should either be contained in conduit,
or proof against attack itself, (e.g. steel wired armoured).
Fire resisting cables are not necessarily vermin proof as
they are not protected by a hard metal sheathing, (copper
sheathing is comparatively soft). Metal conduit is satisfactory
and good results have been reported with the use of high impact
plastic pipe with a minimum diameter of 20mm. Soft plastic,
or smaller diameters, would allow penetration by biting and
should therefore be avoided.
light in the loft should be of the bulkhead or well-glass
design, be sited on a central post away from the thatch and
have its switch in the landing. Wiring should not be fixed
to the side of rafters, to avoid possible penetration by thatching
spikes/crooks, and junction boxes should be avoided so that
all cable within the roof space is a continuous length.
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