Wiring through the years
The Woolston house contains what Paul Griggs describes as a “mixed bag” of wiring. Built in 1920, it was extended in the 1960s to double its size. Griggs and his family have lived there since the 1990s, adding a garage and two sleepouts over that time, and then spending the last two years renovating the entire property for sale.
He says the home’s electrics are a mixture of newer, brand new and original wires, some encased in metal conduit. “It would be fair to say we were maximising the old wiring for the modern home’s necessities and the additional outbuilding.”
While the family hadn’t experienced any significant problems, Griggs wanted to ensure the home’s electrical system couldn’t cause insurance issues for potential buyers and impact the sale price. But in order for an Electrical Inspector to sign off on the property’s electrical compliance, he found that the age of the house meant he could be facing a bill for complete rewiring.
Not keen on paying thousands of dollars on top of the recent renovation costs, Griggs did some more research and discovered the newly launched Arc Fault Detection RCBOs from PDL by Schneider Electric.
Ultimate home electrical protection
AFDD-RCBOs are the ultimate solution for electricity malfunction detection and are an investment in protecting a home and its occupants from the risk of electrical fire. They are combination devices that detect arc faults (one of the most common causes of electrical fires) and also feature miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) and residual current devices (RCDs) to protect against short circuits, overloads and fatal electric shocks.
While RCDs and circuit breakers are standard additions to switchboards in New Zealand, arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) are still a relatively new concept here, despite having been mandatory in Canada and the USA for several years.
Arc faults can occur when cables become damaged, often when squashed underneath or behind furniture, or simply through poor connections or old wiring. The insulation inside the damaged cable lets current leak out, generating heat and carbonising the material around it, which then becomes more conductive and generates a bigger arc that is invisible to those in the home until the cable or socket catch fire.
Cost-effective alternative to rewiring
After discussions with his electrician and insurance company, Griggs was assured that his compliance would be signed off if he installed a new mains board with the AFDD-RCBOs as part of it – a very welcome alternative to full rewiring.
“This installation was what we decided to go for, as the AFDD system would identify any issues in any one electrical line, meaning rewiring was always then limited to only problem areas,” he says.
“Further to this, we had the peace of mind that with installing the AFDDs we would have full insurance on the building and that any issues within the electrics would be immediately isolated by the AFDD closing off that individual line.”
Peter Matthews of PPM Electrical Services in Christchurch (an electrician and Electrical Inspector) carried out the installation and says the combination device is a useful tool for homes.
“Arc fault detection is still a relatively new concept for New Zealanders and it’s a good one. They [arc faults] can happen in a newer site too, so it’s a very good idea.”
Peter Matthews was also impressed by how easy the AFDD-RCBOs were to install and the fact they detected an issue straight away. “It ‘red flagged’ it, so as soon as I turned it on it wouldn’t set,” he explains. “Through more investigation I found that particular circuit hadn’t been rewired as I’d been led to believe, and it was tripping on the residual function of the AFDD.”
Simple solution for a successful sale
Paul Griggs says he was delighted with the result the AFDD-RCBO installation provided. “Once this work was completed we had a robust and sound electrical system. If any issues arise in future they’ll be immediately identifiable and repairable.”
The property sold for its asking price and Griggs says the installation of the AFDD-RCBOs gave everyone involved peace of mind and saved his family the significant expense of a full rewire.
“We had a better deal from the electrician due to ease of install, easy compliance sign off and easier dealings with our insurance plus the new owners’ insurance,” he says. “We can all sleep a lot better at night too, knowing this house should never burn down due to old or faulty wiring.”
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