This is for a UK wiring issue, but I suppose the issues here are universal.
Every since I bought my home, my outdoor garden lighting circuit trips the RCD when it rains. After multiple expensive visits from 2 different electricians, without success and before I spent money on rewiring the whole thing, I decided to look at this myself first. Bear with me, I have a basic understanding of circuits and DIY enthusiast, but not electrician.
Quick overview of the outdoor wiring. Armoured cable goes from the house to summerhouse into breaker box with RCD and circuits for summerhouse interior lighting and sockets , one circuit for outdoor lighting, and one circuit for outdoor pond pump. Its definitely the outdoor lighting circuit tripping the RCD when it rains. The RCD never trips when that circuit is OFF.
Worrying thing #1 I noticed is that the pond pump circuit and outdoor lighting go through the same 4 core flex cable going outside. Black and Blue for the lighting, Brown and Gray for the pump. There is no earth connection between the earth terminals in the breaker box and the outdoor circuits. That didn't seem right or safe to me, how are my metal encased outdoor lights grounded?
OK, so I followed that 4 core flex cable to the first IP67 junction box from which many connection spur off to the pond pump and lighting. I wanted to see how the ground wires where connected.
Worrying thing #2: the ground wires from the lighting and pond pump where all connected to a hole in the back of the junction box into the wooden fencing. My outdoor lights with metal casings and pond pump are grounded by my wooden fence. I'm no expert but wooden fences seem like a poor choice grounding.
It's not even a conductor right? Unless it's wet and soggy by rain, then it becomes slightly more conducting, which brings me to Worrying Thing #3, my fence lights up my volt pen from about 1 foot away from the junction box:
OK, so I have an electrified wooden fence, which means that something live in my outdoor connections is touching the ground, which is "fine" in dry conditions, but as the fence gets wetter it conducts more and more until it trips the RCD. Am I correct?
It seems to me that whoever wired this couldn't be bothered to have a dedicated 3 core wire for the lighting circuit and one for the pond circuit, connecting them to the fancy ground terminals in the breaker box, and avoid frying small mammals like my kids. Am I correct?
In terms of fixing this, what should I do? It seems the right fix would be to get rid of the shared 4 core flex wire and get me two dedicated 3 core flex wire coming from the breaker box , one for each of the two outdoor circuits , so I can ground both circuits to the terminals in the breaker box. Having that in place, I will test the ground connections for voltage and if they still light up my volt tester, I will disconnect parts of the outdoor lighting circuit to try and isolate where the issue is. Does that sound right, so far?
Also those metal duct clamps on the pictures, they are not grounded either. You can get special metal grounding plates for these IP67 boxes for these type of metal connectors, to which you can attach a grounding wire using a screw. I quite like the ducts, but does anyone know if these ducting clamps exist in plastic? Sounds better to me if they exist. Should I get a bigger junction box? It seems unsafe to have so many wires in there.
Should I be suing those 2 electricians (I'm not), that supposed to check the whole wiring , but at best came up with saying I have a couple of dodgy light fittings needing replacing , or am I making a fuss about nothing?
Rest assured, I will have work I do certified.