Holy Explosions Batman…

As mentioned in a past post, I have been decorating the kitchen, which is taking forever. We bought a lovely new grey blackout blind, soft fabric, and very touchable. Today I decided I would install it. The old blind that I removed is the same size, but, and there is always a but, the screw holes were not in the same place, and needed to be moved about 10mm. Easy! I got out my drill, put in a small masonry bit and made the first hole, moved down the required 25mm and did the second. I then swapped the drill bits to a slightly larger one and widened the first hole.



All the electric sockets were off. I was at a loss as there should be no reason that the electrics were tripped. I went to the trip box and turned them back on, and inspected the hole, all of 2-3mm wide. There was a little charring and I was now wondering what the hell or indeed WTF I had managed to drill in to. Now, this is only 40mm away from the window, so again, there is no reason at all as to why any electrical wiring should be close to it. As far as British Regulations are concerned, all electrical cables in walls should be at a depth of 50mm, and if this is not possible then it should have a metal capping in order to protect them and stop anything hitting them, i.e. nails, screws and of course drills.

I decided to poke the hole with a small bore wooden dowl in order to see if there were another reaction and BANG! Electric sockets all off. I then decided to turn the electric back on and see if it tripped without being touched, and thinking about what the hell I am to do next. I kept touching the wall to make sure there wasn’t a fire in there, oh, and checking all the fire alarms. After some time I decided to take the dogs for a walk and came back to find the electric off. That was it for me, I would call Phil the electrician I know and keep an eye on it.

The next few hours passed without any concern. I made dinner, put the dishwasher on, the washing machine completed its load and all was well. Then whilst I was walking out of the kitchen there was a massive bang, almost like a small explosion. With this, I decided that I had to investigate what was going on as I could not risk waiting for Monday to speak to Phil. Grabbing a chisel and hammer I cut out a square in the plaster only to find that I had indeed drilled right through the centre of a mains cable and through the earth wire and scarred the neutral cable with the drill. Holy Shit! I was so lucky that I had not been electrocuted. I millimetre over to the right and I would have hit the live cable and been thrown across the kitchen, or worse killed.

The cable was only just under the plaster, about 2mm deep against all regulations and extremely dangerous. But the big question what why was it there. I decided to cut the cable, strip back the main covering to show the wires. Their plastic shielding was, of course, charred, so I cleaned them up and insulated them so nothing and no one could touch them until I could buy a junction box to make a repair tomorrow. So where did it go? Turns out that this cable feeds the sockets 5 foot below and to the left. I only know this as now I have temporarily isolated them that group of sockets no longer work, and the bedroom ones above the kitchen do work. I have no idea why the feed comes from the top of the house to the bottom, as this is no way to set wiring. So tomorrow I am heading to the electrical wholesalers and getting what I need to make a temporary repair until Phil can have a look and decide the best way to deal with it, and of course, I will now have to channel the walls to the correct depth and install new cable and joy of joy, concrete the gap and then plaster, wallpaper and paint the area.

As can be seen, the cable runs down the edge of the window and just below the surface of the plaster. You can see the scorching on the back of the wallpaper that I cut away as an access flap. The walls are so dry the plaster is crumbling.

I should not be surprised as this is not the first time we have found problems with the electrics. I once found that the earth wires were not connected to any of the lounge sockets, and in the upstairs hall the wall lighting was connected to the mains cable with sellotape, and behind this large light fitting was a massive hole that had live wires suspended and not connected to anything at all. That time I went to the electrical wholesalers and sorted the problems with termination blocks and cable connectors, concreted the hole up, plastered, painted and fitted new lighting. The guy who used to own the house (Bob) needs to be shot, as he was a contractor, and should know better.

Well, onwards and upwards, at least no one was hurt, and I will be able to repair it, and it is safe for now until I make the temporary repair tomorrow.