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I moved into a flat which has the following electrical setup in the kitchen:

  • Regular looking 4-socket power strip
  • Combi boiler plugged into power strip
  • Washing machine plugged into power strip

Front of power strip: Front of power strip Back of power strip: Back of power strip Power strip connection to mains: Power strip mains connection

As the third photo shows, the 4-socket strip does not have a typical UK 3-pin plug, instead it is wired straight into this grey fuse box on the kitchen wall behind a cupboard. This grey fuse box is controlled by the circuit breaker switch that controls all kitchen sockets.

A fishy smell from this corner of the kitchen makes me think something electrical may be over-heating.

My questions:

  1. Is it typical to find power strips of this kind directly wired into the mains?
  2. Is a boiler and washing machine too heavy a load for the power strip?
  3. Is there a better/safer way to wire this whole setup?
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    Just a comment because I think someone familiar with UK code should give a prper answer, but: 1 - No. At least in the US that is strictly against code in many ways; 2 - probably; 3 - Yes - there should be actual permanent receptacles wired up and installed in (or on) the wall. – manassehkatz Sep 17 at 14:05
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    Since I am on the other side of the pond I will just say this would violate our codes. There are ways to do it but using a corded powerstrip would not be legal. I would agree that smell may very well be overheated wiring. – Ed Beal Sep 17 at 14:06
  • 2 - unlikely you’re over the (13A) limit for the power strip, though probably close. The washing machine is probably around 8.5-10A. The (gas) boiler is unlikely to be over 3A. If you’re over the limit for any significant time, the fuse in the FCU should blow, so just check you’ve got a proper fuse in there and no one put a nail in it previously. – Dan W Sep 18 at 11:28
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Is it typical to find power strips of this kind directly wired into the mains?
Is a boiler and washing machine too heavy a load for the power strip?
Is there a better/safer way to wire this whole setup?
  1. Somewhat unusual, but this has been done correctly, with a 13A fuse protecting the power strip and its cord, and the connections in/out of the fused connection unit (FCU) being glanded.

  2. Not in terms of total load, but many power strips are of poor quality and shouldn't be used for high current appliances.

  3. Yes, the FCU should be replaced with a switched FCU for the boiler and a good quality 13A socket for the washing machine.

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I've seen things like this before but that doesn't mean it's safe or legal. I'm not a professional and can't reply to that.

Personally I wouldn't be worried about overloading it. The washing machine plug has a 13 amp fuse and the boiler won't draw much. The fused unit presumably has a 10 or 13 amp fuse in it. Maybe the connection inside the box has come lose and needs tightening up, or the strip itself is somehow worn out and not connecting well (corrosion due to humidity in the kitchen, connecting parts worn loose).

To tidy this up you could: - turn the power off - open up and remove the fused connection unit and box - screw a surface-mounted double pattress box to the wall - run the cables into the box - fit a standard double socket

Alternatively you could keep the existing box and replace the fused connection unit with a single socket and then plug an unmodified power strip into it.

Since it's in a kitchen you may not be allowed to do this yourself, although you could argue that you're not actually modifying the circuit. If it's not your property, that's another matter.

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