Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Part 2. The 3 most Common Electrical Problems and How to Solve them.

2. A breaker has tripped.

This happens when the live wire (brown or black) touches the neutral wire (blue), or excessive current consumption in the tripped circuit. 

The factors that can cause this are ;
  1. Faulty wiring insulation.
  2. Loose wiring connections.
  3. Faulty wiring in a plug.
  4. Too many things plugged into a socket.
  5. Faulty appliances

1. Faulty wiring insulation
 This is why its a good idea to get your wiring checked in your house or apartment. With older wiring the insulation can deteriorate and expose bare wires. 
 Also be careful when hanging pictures as you might accidentally screw into a conduit carrying mains electricity. So if the trip occurs after some DIY its a good bet that, you either drilled into a mains conduit or  a screw or nail is the culprit to the short circuit. 

2. Loose wiring connections
 Over time and due to thermal expansion, it is possible for connections to become loose, more so with screw type terminals, than the newer clamp style. So as the wire becomes loose the likely hood of it touching something it shouldn't becomes greater and it trips the circuit.

3. Faulty wiring in the plug
 This can be similar to above or due to mechanical damage to the cable. Vacuum cleaners are a good one where the lead to the cleaner gets sucked up. Another one are power tools, especially angle grinders and lawn mowers.

4. Too many things plugged into a socket
 This can be very dangerous. Often it happens when a hairdryer is plugged into a circuit, the reason is the circuit is now consuming more current than the breaker is rated for. Often its not until a breaker trips that you find exactly what is connected to that circuit, it maybe more than you think. Other problems are that too many appliances on one socket can cause the either wiring to get hot and melt the insulation or the socket itself to melt. There is also a strong risk of fire as well.

5. Faulty appliances
 This is often through age of the appliance and a fault has occurred within the appliance. The worst culprits tend to be tumble dryers, washing machines, dishwashers and electric ovens.
 If this is the cause then best call out the service engineer.

So you have a tripped circuit breaker what do you do next.

The procedure is ;
  1. Find your fuse box or consumer unit and locate the tripped breaker.
  2. Try and remember if it tripped because you just plugged something in. If so unplug it, and switch the tripped breaker on. If it trips again then, follow the steps below.
  3. Inspect power cords that are plugged into this circuit, one could be damaged unplug the damaged one and try again. Repeat if necessary. If it still tripping.
  4. Make sure everything on the tripped circuit is switched off. Then switch the trip back on. If OK then try switching everything back on again one at a time and if it trips when switching something on then its either the appliance or the wiring that is at fault.
  5. Repair the faulty wiring or appliance, this step may require the assistance of a profesional.
If there is no obvious problem and it is still tripping then its going to need a qualified electrician to sort it out. 
 It is possible that the breaker itself is faulty, it does happen from time to time even so get an electrician to sort it out.

In part three we will look at what happens when the ICP (Interruptor de Control de Potencia) trips.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Part 1. The 3 most Common Electrical Problems and How to Solve them.

It is usual that in any house, from time to time, we have to solve some type of electrical fault. Most are solved in a quick and simple way with just a basic knowledge of electricity

Of course, the problems that I will be describing to you below have an easy solution; But if you suffer a major electrical fault or have serious doubts about your ability, my recommendation is that you hire the services of a professional electrician.

1. The house has no electricity and the differential has tripped.

 Whats a differential I hear you ask well they look like this. Colours may vary. The yellow button is a test button and this should be pressed every 3 months to see if the differential trips.

 The differential has several functions within the house. It protects you from being electrocuted should you touch a bare live wire. And it detects any leakage of electricity. In normal operation the current flowing in the two wires (live and neutral) will be the same. When they are not the same due to a fault the diff will trip. The ones found in Spain also have over current protection as well. So if you are trying to use more current than you are allowed it will trip. This was common in older houses, and a cheap and not recommended upgrade was to increase the amperage of your differential. You should always contact your electricity supplier to upgrade your supply. All houses now have either a mechanical ICP (Interruptor Control de Potential) or its built in to your smart meter to prevent illegal upgrades.

So what do you do if you have tripped your differential. I always recommend 

  1. Switch off all the breakers in your fuse box (consumer unit). 
  2. Switch on the differential, some models, require you to push it down first then up.
  3. Then gradually switch back the other breakers.
  4. That should be it. 

What if the differential trips when switching a breaker back on?  then;

  1. Repeat the process above but leave problem breaker off and continue, you may have more than one problem. If the problem is only with one breaker check to see what is plugged into that circuit, and unplug everything and then switch the breaker back on.
  2.  If its OK then the trip could be caused by over current or a problem with what is plugged in. 
I have tried everything and even switched the breakers on in a different order, and it still trips. What do I do now?

Leave everything for a couple of minutes then try again. Next stop is to call an electrician. The more information you can give him the quicker it can often be fixed. 

And please remember any doubts, call an electrician.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A Warm Welcome

This is a brand new blog that's going to be looking at all things to do with renovation and new builds in Spain. 

 Some our first posts will be about electrics, since this seems to be a common topic and various Facebook groups to do with Spain. 

 We will unlock those mysteries of Spanish electrics, lay to rest some of the myths that a bloke down the pub tells everyone. 

Like anything to do with DIY and building please use qualified trades people if you feel unsure about trying to any work yourself.  Its better to be safe than sorry.

Renovation Station can not be held liable for any damages, accident, injury or death resulting from any of the subject matter within this blog.

So watch this space.

Update and fitting a Candy washing machine / dryer

 The bathroom is almost finished. Just need to get the aluminium arm that connects the glass side panel to the ceiling. The company that fit...