We got called out to a home in Folkestone to have a look at their range cooker. As both a gas and electric cooker, the owner wasn’t sure which part was faulty. Whenever they turned the oven on, it would begin to warm up. Then, with no rhyme or reason at all, the electrics would stop, causing every electrical appliance in the kitchen to stop. Sometimes, the oven was fine, and this intermittent fault was driving the owner up the wall.
The gas worked fine, and they assumed it was the thermometer that had broken which was causing the short. Another possibility was damp had somehow reached the electrics. Neither were great options, so we prioritised a visit. We put the oven on and set a timer. After twenty minutes, the oven was still working. We weren’t prepared to call our clients liars, or to leave before we’d solved the problem that was clearly irritating them beyond belief. So we ruled out the thermometer and began to investigate.
The kitchen had very nice green and orange tiles which came away from the wall with relative ease. And because we’re polite, we put cardboard down to make sure any mess was kept away from the surface. But when we tried to pull the socket away from the wall, it wouldn’t move. Whoever had plastered the wall, had plastered the wire into place. After a quick check with the homeowner, we began picking at the plaster and manoeuvring the socket out of the wall.
Was the wire too short? Was there more plaster? We couldn’t see. But we kept working at it. The plaster eventually came away to reveal blue tissue paper that had been used to pack the hole behind the socket. We’ve seen it before, but we certainly wouldn’t recommend it! And nestled amongst the paper? The socket, with a scorch mark dug into it. Where it had been plastered so tight, the wire had burned through the plastic and the metal. What had appeared as an irritant could have been a house fire.
A very thankful, let alone relieved, homeowner will have to put the tiles back themselves, but we were able to replace the socket and keep their home safe.