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Posted By Topic: MSB upgrade- Confused!

chau428
Sep 12 2017 21:09

Hi everyone. I'll try and explain in detail the situation. Domestic client rung and wanted a quote to extend power point subcircuit and add 3 extra sockets. No problem there. Looked at the MSB which has been upgraded to a surface mount 24way stacked with DIN rail MCBs & Main switch. The new surface mount switchboard was screwed directly over the old black ACM panel which at one stage contained porcelain fuses which are now all gone. No RCD's on the switchboard. Switchboard was upgraded a couple of months ago. I obtained the COC from the client and sure enough switchboard had been upgraded/inspected and logged on the high risk database. I contacted the sparky who did the upgrade and he says there was one existing Din rail MCB existing on the switchboard (for the heatpump), therefore "he" did not replace "ALL" of the circuit protection as stated in 2.6.3.4 therefore didn't install any RCDs. So, basically the sparky has installed 20 new MCBs, 1 Main switch and reinstalled the 1 din rail MCB that was existing and says no RCD was required? Is this a loop hole? His COC didn't detail any of this. Basically what he's saying is, if I replace some SERF's and another sparky replaces the rest of the SERF's then technically each individual sparky hasn't replaced "ALL" of the circuit protection and therefore doesn't trigger the RCD as per 2.6.3.4. On top of this, the inspector agreed with his reasoning. Thoughts please.
   

ryanm10
Sep 13 2017 07:01

I'm sure most in here would have added RCDs as well it isn't a requirement in this situation, I've seen this exact situation with 1 porcelain fuse left for the hot water. There are odd ball sparkys out there.
   

mrsparky
Sep 13 2017 07:22

Yeah I find that logic confusing too, he has already done the hard work! Just clip in 2-3 RCD's and a small amount of wiring. Would only take another hour to wire and RCD's aren't as expensive as they used to be.
   

DougP
Sep 13 2017 08:16

It's English.

"Where ALL of the circuit protection on a switchboard IS replaced"

At this point, and in the half and half example, ALL of the circuit protection HAS BEEN replaced - so RCDs should have been fitted.

It doesn't say anything about the timing of the replacement, it only qualifies that it applies when ALL the protection is replaced.
   

AlecK
Sep 13 2017 09:04

Yes it's a loophole, and some will take advantage of it. About the only way to close it would be to require retro-fitting RCDs to all relevant circuits when replacing any overcurrent device.
Nice try, DougP, but you can't read "is" as "has been"; so the loophole is there not only for this case (where it seems one existing mcb was retained)and for "replacement-by-degrees".

That said, the intent is clear; and anyone relying on the loophole to avoid the "cost" of fitting RCDs knows damned well that they are bending the rule to extremes. And if they don't fit a swbd big enough to include RCDs, they're not doing work in a tradesman-like manner and breaching 1.7.2.

By not specifying the extent of work done clearly on the CoC this guy risks being found guilty by EWRB if a complaint were to be made.

The inspector didn't necessarily agree, because work downstream of main switch isn't "mains work"; so an inspector can't refuse to issue a "pass" RoI even if they thought those aspects were non-compliant.

In fact on info presented there was no high risk work done at all, so no need for an inspection. But I suppose if this bloke was silly enough to ask - and pay - for one we can't blame the inspector for taking the money. However the fact it was lodged to HR database indicates the inspector was just as ignorant as the sparky.

Personally I'd rather spend money on RCDs than inspections any day.
   

chau428
Sep 13 2017 15:08

Oh right, this could be the reason I'm missing out on switchboard upgrades when quoting. There should have been at least 5 RCD's on that board. That aside, I think the intent of this clause is to have older houses comply with the latest standards when a full switchboard upgrade is carried out in the interest of increased safety for the owner/occupier. One thing that is clear is that all circuit protection has been replaced. This clause should be clear cut and not left open to interpretation....
   

AlecK
Sep 13 2017 17:25

Agree there "should" have been RCDs added when the swbd was upgraded.
However at least the upgrade resulted in a safer installation than with the old SERFs.

As I suggested, it's actually difficult to write a bullet-proof (sparky-proof?) rule for an upgrade clause. Upgrade clauses don't really fit in a document that's about new work. A trigger condition has to be invented that switches on the rule. Wherever the trigger line is drawn, and however carefully it is worded, someone will find a way to twist out of it.
But overall, even if some don't do as intended, the overall safety level will still improve.