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
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.
This isn't the "good workmanship" required by wot us old(er) farts
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
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,
The Local Authority don't want to know as you have to claim to them
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
"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, 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.
 But you will check your smoke detectors before going to bed tonight
won't you. All usual disclaimers apply.
"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
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.
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
Polystyrene foam and PVC cable are a known problem. I gather the
polystyrene slowly turns the PVC to goo somehow, and the result is
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.
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
*I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW 12
"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
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.
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