9

A plumber has melted the grey sleeve on a two core electrical cable in our kitchen whilst soldering a joint on an adjacent copper pipe. I can see exposed copper through a small hole the cable sleeve. This hole is approx 1cm in length.

The cable is at floor level, under the fridge freezer and as far as I can tell, runs to a socket. I've checked everything in the kitchen and it's all working.

Is this wire dangerous? If he tries to fix it with electrical tape will this suffice?

Thanks in advance.

  • 9
    Can you post a picture? – Scott Whitlock Apr 4 '17 at 10:23
  • 5
    Kitchen has water. Cables have electricity. Guess what can happen ;) – PTwr Apr 4 '17 at 13:17
  • 2
    I have some liquid rubber electrical tape stuff for just these type of accidents! – PhasedOut Apr 4 '17 at 14:16
  • 1
    That cable likely has three wires inside of it, two of which have insulation and one that is bare copper. Are you seeing that copper ground wire or did he burn through one of the other ones? – Ukko Apr 4 '17 at 17:03
  • 1
    One more note. If this was "house wiring" rather than an appliance cord, it should never have been exposed for damage in the first place, but should have been safely inside the wall. If exposed, it should have been metallic cable (BX) or conduit, at least by North American code standards. – mickeyf_supports_Monica Apr 4 '17 at 22:08
23

Sounds like a fire waiting to happen. You'll need to cut out the damaged part and splice them together again.

If there isn't enough slack then you'll need a new short run of wire to bridge the gap.

Because you have physical access to the area The splices should be inside junction boxes.

Bill the work/materials to the plumber or deduct it from his bill if you haven't payed him yet and tell him to invest in a scorch pad to avoid stuff like this.

  • To expand, the joint likely must be 'accessible' - burying it inside the wall is probably not allowed, with the possible exception of certain types of crimps that are very unlikely to fail. I'm not certain on UK rules. – Someone Somewhere Apr 4 '17 at 11:58
  • 10
    "Bill the work/materials to the plumber" -- Good luck getting him to pay. This is such a trivial amount it would probably cost you money to try to pursue it in court. Depending on local/state laws, you may be required to ask him to take care of it (and have him decline) to have any chance in small claims court. Feel free to reach out to him and hope for the best, but don't get your hopes up – USER_8675309 Apr 4 '17 at 12:02
  • 6
    From his description, it sounds like the wire is an appliance cord. Your answer seems to be assuming it's house wiring. It's possible that it is, but that doesn't seem particularly likely given the description. – David Schwartz Apr 4 '17 at 13:34
10

A picture would help, but the "runs into a socket" part sounds like this is an appliance cord and not house wiring. Which makes it a lot easier.

If there is ONE copper wire exposed, and the rest looks fine, then 5-6 wraps of electrical tape will be fine - that's basically what electrical tape is for.

If you see more than one copper wire exposed there are two choices: separate the wires and wrap each one separately, or just cut the cord at that point and put a new plug on the end. Short extension to the socket if the remaining cord isn't long enough.

If it's not a cord, and this is in fact solid house wiring, then the proper repair depends a lot on where you live (country should be a required tag on electrical questions).

  • 5
    Electrical tape is a very questionable repair for cable insulation, really only acceptable in the slightest if further measures are taken to make sure a) children or pets will not or cannot undo the tape and b) it cannot come loose from the glue deteriorating over time. If you can get the plug off the cable temporarily, using heat shrink tubing would be a more safe and sane repair option. If you can replace the appliance cable (cut one off a scrap appliance for example), do so... – rackandboneman Apr 4 '17 at 14:07
1

There's one important additional consideration. This damage is in a kitchen. Is it to a wire at floor level, or a decent height above? Because a kitchen is quite likely to suffer a flood, say, if the washing machine or dishwasher outlet becomes blocked. At which point a cable at floor level will be sitting in hot soapy water, and one of several things will happen.

At best, the circuit is protected by its own RCBO and trips, and you only discover later when all the food in the freezer has thawed and been ruined.

Less good, the house's one and only RCD trips, and the house in plunged into darkness, and possibly somebody falls down the stairs or slips on the flooded kitchen floor as a result.

Worst, there is no RCD at all, and someone is electrocuted. Soapy water is a good conductor of electricity and kitchens are full of earthed metal things that you touch.

So although tape might be acceptable for wiring that's permanently a foot above floor level, it definitely is not acceptable down on the floor. Whatever you do, get somebody who knows electricity to check and fix it (not the electrically unqualified plumber who broke it in the first place).

I don't know your locale, but here in the UK it would be an open and shut case against the plumber in the small claims court, if you get it repaired by a qualified electrician who documents the damage on his quotation before repairing it. (Also, take photos). The main risk is that the plumber has gone bankrupt before you win your case. If he's not planning on going bankrupt or "doing a runner", he'll probably settle as soon as he sees the electrician's invoice, to avoid also being on the hook for court fees.

  • Thanks all. The plumber has 'repaired' it and encased it in a box. We intend to have an electrician check it over this week and if he feels it requires further repair, we'll deduct this cost from the plumber's invoice. I'd add photos but have no idea how to on my iPhone? – user68231 Apr 4 '17 at 20:07
  • @user68231 uploading the picture to an image sharing service and posting a link is good enough. (Someone else can easily edit the link into an embedded image from there.) – Dan Neely Apr 6 '17 at 15:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.