Electrics and Expandable foam

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I have a house that is 1 year old. In the lounge I have 2 bog standard ceiling pendants. I have bought some new light fittings and got an electrician to come and fit them (yes I am a hopeless girlie when it comes to DIY!). When he unscrewed the pendants he had found that the hole had been filled completely with expandable foam together with all the wires. he said that it would be a whole days job to do the lights as he would need to get all the foam off the wired and would then need to test to make sure he hadn't damaged them.
he told me that I should contact the builder and ask him to sort it out as this was not up to NHBC standard, apparently some unscrupulous builders get their electricians to do this to secure the fitting when there is not a joist present to screw the fitting to. He said that NHBC will make them lift the bedroom floor and put a joist in!
Can anyone tell me if this is correct? I am concern if having the wiring coated and encapsulated in this stuff is a fire hazard.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
Angela
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call The Wiring Regs and is now British Standard 7671:2001 with the 2002 Amendment (if you want to use that formal title to help bully your builder/seller ;-). It makes it (as you just found) impractical to fix faults or change the fitting. It's harder to argue it's an actual fire hazard - the foam probably isn't flammable - but (ah! here's an argument!) it certainly makes it (a) impossible to inspect that the screws holding the wires are done up tight, and (b) to tighten them if they're loose. And if they are loose, the places where they make contact will get hot, and maybe spark.
The lazy gits wot did this had plenty of reasonable ways to secure a normal ceiling rose: they could have put in a plasterboard back box, used plasterboard/cavity fittings to secure the rose, or put in a little wooden plate running between the two nearest joists into which they could've screwed the ceiling rose. There's no reasonable excuse for the magick-foam trick.
(Obligatory regulatory whinge: and *these* bodgers are considered Competent Persons by the forthcoming "you toucha your wires, you paya da guy with the Stetson, spurs and horse 75quid to say it's no worse a bodge than he'd'a done" regulations... sigh.)
Getting the builder to do the decent thing may be a bit of a struggle. If they try to fob you off at first, see if you can find more fittings bodged this way: it's safe to unscrew the covers on ceiling roses if you switch off all the power in the house, and almost as safe (just as safe unless there are some *really* unsafe bodges!) if you just isolate the relevant lighting circuit at your consumer unit ("fuse box"). On a 1yr old property the circuits in the consumer unit should be clearly labelled, and turning off a whole circuit should mean just pushing a small button or lifting a little switch-looking-thing on the MCB ("miniature circuit breaker" - modern replacement for a fuse) which controls the circuit. Look for this foam-fix-bodge both in your own house, and (if you know one or two of them) your neighbours'. The more widespread the bodge is, the more ammunition you have with the builder/developer when you mention how interested you think the local papers/DogWatch/NHBC/local authority Building Control people might be.
Good luck - Stefek
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I have a catalogue of issues with them already and they are already proving difficult to deal with. For example, I have 2 set of uPVC patio doors both are very drafty. Last winter the temperature by the doors was 25 degrees lower that the room temp. They claim that drafts are to be expected and that as long it doen't let in water they will not do anything about them! My front door is crooked and is so lose that it rattles in the rain and the door seal has disitegrated. They have acknowledged that they will need to redecorate the whole house as it was so badly done. In 4 of the rooms the radiators are too small (the lounge is only 50% of the size it should be). the list goes on and on........................
The more widespread the bodge is,

within 6 months. I am doing things properly and writing to the builder and copying NHBC in on it all. This has been going on for over a year and I am at the end of my tether.........................I will have no hesitation of taking them to small claims court very soon, I doubt a judge will consider doors that have drafts to be acceptable along with all the other stuff. I would go to the newspapers but I don't want to blight my house and be unable to sell it. Far be it from me to tell anyone not to buy from this developer but note my problems and draw your own conclusions - the developers name is Whiteoaks Developments Ltd
Angela
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"A K" wrote | I have a house that is 1 year old. In the lounge I have 2 bog | standard ceiling pendants. I have bought some new light fittings and | got an electrician to come and fit them (yes I am a hopeless girlie | when it comes to DIY!). When he unscrewed the pendants he had found | that the hole had been filled completely with expandable foam | together with all the wires. ... | he told me that I should contact the builder and ask him to sort it | out as this was not up to NHBC standard, apparently some unscrupulous | builders get their electricians to do this to secure the fitting when | there is not a joist present to screw the fitting to. He said that | NHBC will make them lift the bedroom floor and put a joist in!
They should put a 'noggin' in between two existing joists to screw the pendant into. It is absolutely shoddy workmanship though, and makes me wonder what other little corners they've cut.
| Can anyone tell me if this is correct? I am concern if having the | wiring coated and encapsulated in this stuff is a fire hazard.
It's probably not an immediate go-up-in-flames-tomorrow hazard[1], but it is definately bad practice. Wiring should not be run through insulating foam like that because it can derate the current-carrying capacity of the cable; this is unlikely to be critical as lighting circuit cable is usually generously-sized anyway. But if the foam has a chemical reaction with the cable insulation that could be rather nasty longer term.
Owain
[1] But you will check your smoke detectors before going to bed tonight won't you. All usual disclaimers apply.
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I wondered about that, but it's the usual stuff for filling gaps round PVC windows.
--
*If only you'd use your powers for good instead of evil.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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"Dave Plowman" wrote | Owain wrote: | > But if the foam has a chemical reaction with the | > cable insulation that could be rather nasty longer term. | I wondered about that, but it's the usual stuff for filling gaps round PVC | windows.
PVC windows don't have 240V electricity running through them.
Well, maybe Angela's do and that'll be the subject of her next posting.
Owain
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Heated windows. That's neat.....
cheers Richard -- Richard Sampson
email me at richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
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On Tue, 21 Oct 2003 13:21:23 +0100, "Owain"

UPVC doesn't have the plasticisers of PVC insulation either. I wouldn't trust insulation in long-term contact with foam unless I had some test results for how it held up. There are a lot of solvents that _are_ known to have an adverse reaction on cable.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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I'm aware of this, but I'd have *thought* there would be warnings about using foam on cable if it were a problem - after all it's easy enough to imagine a scenario where it could happen.
--
*The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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Hi
Polystyrene foam and PVC cable are a known problem. I gather the polystyrene slowly turns the PVC to goo somehow, and the result is eventual fire.
So, as has been said, it doesnt sound like a fire tomorrow type situation, but I would say it really does need fixing, along with any other places they've done this.
Also check the building for polystyrene balls insulation, thats usually where these problems arise.
Regards, NT
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I discovered some cable laid across poly sheet long after some building work at home. The cable had sunk through the poly and was resting on the plasterboard ceiling. But in other ways was still intact - although the PVC *may* have been slightly brittle. But in no way a fire risk unless moved.
--
*I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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"N. Thornton" wrote | Also check the building for polystyrene balls insulation,
That's a handy thing for a Scotsman to have.
Owain
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You've not seen my burglar alarm/elephant scarer, then?
--
*Why is a boxing ring square?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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On Tue, 21 Oct 2003 20:41:59 +0100, Dave Plowman

Which part of the country do you have a problem with elephants in then? ;)
PoP
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But I don't have a problem with elephants - the scarer is such a success.
--
*It's not hard to meet expenses... they're everywhere.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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wrote:

How's it work? A picture on the gate with "beware of the mouse" and a sign saying "no buns kept on the premises overnight"???
-- Richard Sampson
email me at richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
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wrote:

ROTFL!
Probably keeps the mini car out of sight too - you know what those pesky elephants are like when they try to climb inside ;)
PoP
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wrote:

lol.
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"Dave Plowman" wrote | > PVC windows don't have 240V electricity running through them. | You've not seen my burglar alarm/elephant scarer, then?
I think I'll come and break into your house, I could do with the compensation :-)
Owain
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A K wrote:

Firstly I would advise you to avoid this 'electrician' like the plague as he's obviously trying to make money out of you - the 'whole days job' tale is just ridiculous. Is the fitting screwed in at all? A joist is not necessary for fitting a ceiling rose - plasterboard fittings would be acceptable. I don't really understand the reason for the foam, although it does look like a bodge job. Although he sounds like a cowboy, I would take his advice and contact the builder and then the NHBC if you have no joy. Take care.
Terry D.
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