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MIKE JOSEPH: I RECENTLY FOUND THIS IN MY OWN HOUSE, HAVING LIVED THERE FOR 31 YEARS. THIS LOOKS LIKE IT WAS DOWN TO THE PREVIOUS OWNER. I TOOK OFF THE PLATES TO REPLACE THEM AND FOUND NO OUTER SHEATH ON TWO OF THE CABLES AND THEY WOULD NOT MOVE. I THEN FOUND THE PICTURED ITEM BETWEEN THEM – PLASTERED IN. THE WHITE ITEM ABOVE IS PART OF A SHELF BRACKET THAT IS JUST MISSING THE BOX.
These types of things are often seen in either historic DIY alterations, or where a non-electrically trained builder may have done some work. It doesn’t make it any less dangerous and, in this case, it was a close-run thing that the bracket fixing didn’t clip the conductors. The bracket I feel is a red herring, however, as the conductors are inside a safe wiring zone, and the bracket fixing is technically outside of the safe zone as specified by Regulation 522.6.202.
The biggest issue here is the use of uninsulated non-maintenance free connectors, which have then been buried in the wall. I say un-insulated because the terminal screw is exposed and not encased. There are numerous cases of walls becoming live when they are damp or wet in some way, such as steam in a kitchen or damp from exterior wall integrity issues. This, in some cases, could leave an entire wall as an exposed-conductive-part.
All terminations in conductors, and basic insulated and non-sheathed cables, must be taken into an adequate enclosure. We can add the unsheathed cables from the old back box to the new one (albeit it approx. 30 years old) in that observation as well.
Where a connector is not a maintenance-free type, it must be accessible for periodic inspection and testing, or maintenance. There are ways of adequately extending cables for this kind of modification, this isn’t one of them. If damp or condensation were present in this area, there could be a very real chance of receiving an electric shock.
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