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Electrical wiring problem in rented house

27 posts in this topic

Posted

We recently checked the wiring in our kitchen and found that most of the sockets do not have earth connections meaning we're in danger of electrocuting ourselves!

 

Are there regulations in place in Germany which would mean that landlords are obliged to include proper earth and also earth leakage trips (RCD's) in electrical installations as is the case in the UK and France?

 

Anybody know?

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Posted

Do the sockets really not have earth connections or are they connected to neutral rather than a third earth wire?

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Posted

We have not dismantled the sockets but a meter test from the earth pin to the tap on the sink indicates an earth in just two cases the rest are open circuit.

 

Now I appreciate that this is not conclusive even in the case of the apparently ok sockets: we might just have a local connection to the water pipes and not a proper earth so to speak. The whole thing seems dodgy especially given we have plain cartridge type fuses in the box and no evidence of an RCD.

 

I was hoping to be able to go back to the landlord and say something along the lines of..we should have an RCD at least by law...and with that installed we would at least have some security.

 

Hope this helps.

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Posted

 

We have not dismantled the sockets but a meter test from the earth pin to the tap on the sink indicates an earth in just two cases the rest are open circuit.

 

I'd be very surprised if you don't have RCDs or RCCBs. Germany was the first country in Europe to make them mandatory in 1970 on new or re-wired installations.

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Posted

oh ok well this is not a re-wired installation. Would that make it legal?

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Posted

... if it was built before 1970 and has not had a visit from an electrician since...

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Posted

I've had a look in the meter cupboard and the installation date on the meter appears to be Nov 98. There is a lot of stuff in the cupboard, mostly cartridge fuses but there are a couple of 16A MCBs (not currently in use, some sort of digital display (off)and other stuff I don't recognise. Perhaps this was a 3 phase installation converted to single phase or maybe some sort of white meter installation which is no longer in use.

 

Time to talk to the landlord I think...

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Posted

Sounds incredibly dodgy to me, but then it seems no problem to have an uncovered power socket 10cm away from a wash basin (easy splashing distance) as the RCD will protect you! I insisted on covers for the sockets.

 

Note that the apartment before last that I was in, an elderly house converted into apartments had MCBs but no RCD breakers that I could recognise.

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Posted

Sorry for resurrecting an old thread, but this topic is related to a problem I have with my apartment.

 

The building was built in 1963, and the original electrical wiring is still installed in the apartment. We have an old Edison style fuse box, and all lights and plug sockets in the apartment are wired to the same circuit, meaning that for example the washing machine in the kitchen would run on the same circuit as a hair dryer in the bathroom. The total current rating of the system is 16A. I described the setup to an electrician, who hasn’t physically looked at it yet, but it’s also a 3 phase installation as described by velinoise, and the electrician said it sounds like there is no RCD installed.

 

My questions:

- If there is no RCD installed, is the owner legally required to update the system to make it safer? Where can I find the regulation that states this?

- Is it correct that all major electrical appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, and anything else that draws a significant amount of power) must be on separate circuits? Apparently Ikea refuses to install a kitchen when this is not the case; is there therefore a regulation that states this requirement?

- I read online that in Germany tenants must be able to run the washing machine and other major electrical appliances simultaneously (where I read it, the word “appliances” was plural, i.e. washing machine plus at least 2 other appliances). Is this correct? With a 1.8kW peak washing machine and for example 2kW hair dryer, we’re already at 3.8kW, i.e. the limit with a 16A fuse, and therefore the installation wouldn’t be adequate. Again, is there a regulation stating this requirement?

- Are all of the regulations/points above irrelevant if the installation met the standards at the time (i.e. 1963) and no further work has been done since then – or is the lack of an RCD sufficient grounds to require a complete update of the installation?

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

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Posted

 

My questions:

- If there is no RCD installed, is the owner legally required to update the system to make it safer? Where can I find the regulation that states this?

 

Going by wikipedia, an RCD is required for installations done after 1984. Older installations, unless significantly changed after 1984, do not have a requirement for one. The requirement is an insurance/liability one (keeping with standard norms), not a legal one.

 

Regulations:

DIN VDE 0100-701:2008-10

DIN VDE 0100-410:2007, section 411.3.3

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Posted

Basically there is no law requiring to update the standard , the standard at the moment the installation was made ( 1963) is still valid, and all installation made additionally, after, have to be made according the standards at that given moment. So e.g. if you plan to have another socket in the bathroom that would require the use of am RCD today.But not for installations made 20 years ago.

 

On the other hand there is a high court decision saying that "insuffcient" power supply could be a reason to lower the rent etc. Which would require the statement of an electrician . But are you willing to go that way?

 

If I were in your situation I would talk to the landlord and ask him to have a second line installed. Doesn't cost a fortune. And even if you would participate with a small amount on the costs this would still be cheaper than hiring an electrician to get a statement and possibly even the hassle of a lawyer. Give and take usually is the easier way.

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Posted

I would agree to the installation of another circuit, but the Hausverwaltung have said that what is installed is sufficient. Clearly it isn't, and if the ability to run the washing machine plus one or two other appliances simultaneously is a real requirement, then they do not meet this.

 

Additionally, my understanding is that if a modification is made to an installation that no longer meets current standards, then the entire installation must be replaced in order to meet the current standard. In other words, the installation of an additional circuit would be a modification to the old installation, which does not meet current standards, and so the entire wiring in the apartment would need to be replaced for an installation that meets todays standards. Which is obviously a lot more expensive than just adding another circuit to the kitchen. Is this correct, or can they get away with just adding the extra circuit? Presumably if it's correct, then an electrician should refuse to do the work without replacing the whole installation?

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Posted

Adding another circuit doesn't require the set up of all other installations.

 

BTW 16 Ampère aren't enough to run a dishwasher and a washing machine at the same time, (both have 10 Ampère )but sure is enough to run one of these with a hairdryer or computer etc.

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Posted

Thanks for the help sosarx. We've got an electrician coming today supposedly to take a look at it (arranged by the Hausverwaltung, they have an electrician they always use, so I don't know if there's potentially a conflict of interest, but whatever).

 

If we can't run a dishwasher and washing machine at the same time, it sounds like it doesn't meet the requirement of running 2 major appliances at the same time.

 

You say that a washing machine and hair dryer simultaneously are ok with 16A; is this ok if also the fridge compressor starts up at the same for example? I'm certainly no electrician, but I thought that the overall power drawn from the circuit can't exceed 16A * 240V = ~3.8kW. If a washing machine is 1.8kW when heating, hair dryer is 2kW, and a fridge is 700W when the compressor runs, that's a total of 4.5kW already, ignoring things like lights, TV, etc. which are all small but additional electrical items drawing power from the same circuit.

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Posted

Right..

 

put the washmachine on.. Switch on the Dish washer.. Put the tv on,pop a mug of milk in the Microwave for 2 minutes... vacuum the apartment and dry your hair at the same time...

 

Then when you realise that the house hasnt exploded or burnt down... Put some Coffee in that milk!

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Posted

You've never dried your hair with a light turned on, while you're doing laundry?

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Posted

Unnecessary luxuries.

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Posted

True - I just have to make sure I unplug the fridge before turning on the washing machine!

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Posted

So you have the electrician come by today. Ask him how much he would charge for another circuit running to the place where washing machine is placed. Then think about it. You can either spend time and energy ( and money) for a fight with the Hausverwaltung or just put some money on the table for the electrician and keep on enjoying life. In case the Hausverwaltung refuses to do , help or participate .

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Posted

I find it difficult to believe that they are all on one circuit...

 

I recon that changing the consumer unit to have more Circuits fed from the diffeent phases would be the way to solve the problem..

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