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Old 01.03.2017, 12:42
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

UPDATE: I checked this morning, and discovered that the extension cord is not on the same circuit as the one that caught on fire.

That's right, they are NOT THE SAME. I tested this by turning off the circuit with the dryer and dishwasher whilst plugging in the microwave under the sink, which continued to work. So the extension cord and its appliances could not have caused the problem despite what the electrician said.

Why he missed this is beyond me--I'm guessing he was so annoyed at seeing an extension cord with UK devices put in by an "amateur electrician" as he kept saying that he just lost the plot. That, and he clearly hates English people. He was rude from the moment he heard my dodgy accent.

It's really not the landlord trying to get out of paying. They were very nice and said they would pay for all of the repairs regardless. We are still having another, recommended electrician from a different company (who had no problem with my French) come in tomorrow to check things. Better safe than sorry and all that. If the house needs major work the landlord will of course pay.

Thanks to everyone for their responses, you've been really helpful. Hopefully this will all be resolved soon!
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Old 01.03.2017, 12:44
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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There are two kind of electrician licenses and task : Installation and inspection.
An electrician company is not allowed to do the very first inspection of its own work, whereas an inspector is not allowed to fix things during inspection.
An inspection of the installation is around CHF 350. By law it must be done every 20 years for residential buildings.
Pet architect says that it should be done every ten years for private individual houses and within a set period of a building changes hands through sale. And for a rental property should also be done at change of tenants.
There's a rule somewhere on admin.ch but I can't find it!

The set up under the sink is borderline acceptable as long as the sockets aren't directly under where the water pipes exit the walls, or are above that point. But he personally wouldn't accept that in one of his buildings. And the mimimum distance was 90cms, but that norm doesn't exist anymore!

So ask your landlords for sight of the last inspection certificate.
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Old 01.03.2017, 12:50
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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Pet architect says that it should be done every ten years for private individual houses and within a set period of a building changes hands through sale. And for a rental property should also be done at change of tenants.
There's a rule somewhere on admin.ch but I can't find it!
It is called the NIV https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...238/index.html or OIBT https://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifi...238/index.html in French
See Annex 1 for periods.

As a change is of a tenant is not a change of the owner there is no check necessary.
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Old 02.03.2017, 14:19
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

So the new electrician has just been. Apparently the plug sockets for the dishwasher, washer and dryer were the wrong sort: they need to be specifically for large appliances, rather than just a "normal" one. This was clearly the landlord taking a shortcut. (He did a lot of the electrics himself.) The electrician replaced one plug socket and will come back to do the others. He affirmed that it had nothing to do with my toaster and blender and in fact it was okay to use extension cords in the kitchen!

He was not bothered about the plug under the sink at all. He said there was no water damage, just damage from the wrong socket type.

For the rest of the electrics, he said that appliances had been added to circuits incorrectly (there are three large appliances on each circuit instead of just one) and recommended redoing the whole thing, although there is no fire risk. Not sure if the landlords will be keen but I'm just relieved that the problem has been fixed. And also that I can continue to plug in more than one appliance in my kitchen!
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Old 02.03.2017, 14:50
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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There are two kind of electrician licenses and task : Installation and inspection.
An electrician company is not allowed to do the very first inspection of its own work, whereas an inspector is not allowed to fix things during inspection.
An inspection of the installation is around CHF 350. By law it must be done every 20 years for residential buildings.
AND it must be done when the object (apt/house) is sold and the last check was done more than 5 years ago.

Link in FR: bottom of the page - item No. 3 https://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifi...238/index.html

Link in DE: bottom of the page - item No. 3 https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...238/index.html

Last edited by Verbier; 02.03.2017 at 15:03. Reason: Added DE link
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  #46  
Old 02.03.2017, 15:00
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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So the new electrician has just been. Apparently the plug sockets for the dishwasher, washer and dryer were the wrong sort: they need to be specifically for large appliances, rather than just a "normal" one. This was clearly the landlord taking a shortcut. (He did a lot of the electrics himself.) The electrician replaced one plug socket and will come back to do the others. He affirmed that it had nothing to do with my toaster and blender and in fact it was okay to use extension cords in the kitchen!

He was not bothered about the plug under the sink at all. He said there was no water damage, just damage from the wrong socket type.

For the rest of the electrics, he said that appliances had been added to circuits incorrectly (there are three large appliances on each circuit instead of just one) and recommended redoing the whole thing, although there is no fire risk. Not sure if the landlords will be keen but I'm just relieved that the problem has been fixed. And also that I can continue to plug in more than one appliance in my kitchen!
Years ago I renovated an old house, including upgrading the entire electrical system. As I had served my time as an electrician I did everything myself, from the fuse panel on, sometimes asking electricians about what the local code was, but mostly just using common sense.

Once I had completed the distribution side we called an electrical contractor to come and quote on installing a new distribution panel. Unfortunately I ended up being out of town on the day when the guy came to look at the existing installation so he could formulate a quote. Up till then I had just given him a list of how many breakers & size, & where I wanted GFIs and such.

On the day he came to take a look my wife was there, with a hand written list of my questions and requirements. Once he'd taken his measurements and looked at the installation in the rest of the house, he said to my wife:

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You know Mrs., sometimes I go to the Jumbo on a Saturday and I see all these people buying stuff for electrical installations. It's legal, but I know that for a lot of it I or someone else will be called out to fix in the following week. This is the first time I have seen such a large installation where I couldn't find a single thing which was even questionable.
The point is not "look at me, I'm great", but rather that a lot of people think that it is an acceptable job if the bulb lights, and no smoke comes out. If you do make a change to your own electrical installation, inform yourself before you start, and spend some money to have an electrician come and inspect it, even if only informally for a bottle of wine.
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Old 02.03.2017, 15:02
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

When we were living in Germany we had a house built in the 1920s. Judging by the sockets and light switches these had been done in the 1960s or 1970s, but the fuse box was modern. Living in that house was quite a revelation. I discovered that entire rooms including all lights and sockets were fed from an extension cable buried under the plaster nad plugged into a socket in a different room. This being Germany, they used Schuko plugs (which you can plug in normally, but also rotate by 180 degrees and plug in with neutral and live being interchanged) , in some cases the plugs were the wrong way meaning that effectively the voltage was on the neutral line and there was thus voltage on light bulbs and things even when they were switched off. Even in the bathroom. I had a lot of fun getting to the bottom of that.
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Old 03.03.2017, 12:47
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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The point is not "look at me, I'm great", but rather that a lot of people think that it is an acceptable job if the bulb lights, and no smoke comes out. If you do make a change to your own electrical installation, inform yourself before you start, and spend some money to have an electrician come and inspect it, even if only informally for a bottle of wine.
When I said "appliances", I meant big appliances like the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher, not small ones like the toaster and blender. The landlord added them to the system incorrectly, probably many years ago, and didn't use the right plug sockets. My brother-in-law is an electrician and my husband knows not to mess with stuff he shouldn't. He didn't do anything wrong, just used an extension cord in the kitchen, which shouldn't be a problem. The house was faulty before we moved in, we haven't changed anything.

But still it is worth saying so thank you!
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Old 03.03.2017, 12:54
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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He didn't do anything wrong, just used an extension cord in the kitchen, which shouldn't be a problem.
You're right. Most people can manage to put a new plug on an extensioncord. (ok, perhaps not most... 20% might be more accurate)

My post wasn't meant to refer to you or your husband, but rather the Landlord.
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Old 03.03.2017, 12:58
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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Years ago I renovated an old house, including upgrading the entire electrical system. As I had served my time as an electrician I did everything myself, from the fuse panel on, sometimes asking electricians about what the local code was, but mostly just using common sense.

Once I had completed the distribution side we called an electrical contractor to come and quote on installing a new distribution panel. Unfortunately I ended up being out of town on the day when the guy came to look at the existing installation so he could formulate a quote. Up till then I had just given him a list of how many breakers & size, & where I wanted GFIs and such.
Why didn't you do the fuse panel? Just wondering. Was it simply because you don't have the Swiss piece of paper saying you are allowed to do so?

I ask because our fuse/distribution panel is a mess and some circuits are missing RCDs so I'd quite like to get it all changed/modernized.
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Old 03.03.2017, 13:16
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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Why didn't you do the fuse panel? Just wondering. Was it simply because you don't have the Swiss piece of paper saying you are allowed to do so?

I ask because our fuse/distribution panel is a mess and some circuits are missing RCDs so I'd quite like to get it all changed/modernized.
Yes, I asked a couple of licensed sparkies who were doing datacomm stuff where I worked, and they all said that only a licensed sparkie can do it legally, and that the first thing the inspector asked for was who did the installation.

On top of that I couldn't find a supplier for the panel itself. The original panel was a wood frame and asbestos plate, so I needed the whole shebang, frame, meter, rcds... everything.

It wasn't a big deal, as I replaced the circuits one by one I just arranged all my feeds so that the conduits only entered the existing panel at the top and one side (so that the new panel could be larger vertically and horizontally), and as I replaced the circuits one after the other I made sure that I left LOTS of wire inside the old panel so that they could rearrange them to reach a row of TBs along the top edge.

In the end the new panel was about 2300CHF, including about 6 hours installation.

IIRC if your panel is suitable (i.e. size, DIN rails, materials, earth) you can actually do whatever you want downstream from the meter (Can't remember if the main fuses are before the meter or after), and frankly, as long as you follow the code and do a proper job, an inspector wouldn't notice.
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Old 03.03.2017, 14:05
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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You're right. Most people can manage to put a new plug on an extensioncord. (ok, perhaps not most... 20% might be more accurate)
I would say only 5% or less. Most people wont put ferrules on the end of strands.
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Old 03.03.2017, 14:21
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Re: Small appliances on extension cord: fire risk in Switzerland?

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AND it must be done when the object (apt/house) is sold and the last check was done more than 5 years ago.
Ours has never been done in 27 years.

Tom
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