7 Feb 2017

7th February 2017. Pt.1: Sparks flying everywhere!


Tuesday 7th 30F, -1C, heavy overcast with light flurries of snow. It seems winter has returned to Denmark. With a week of sub zero temperatures and snow forecast. I doubt there's a full inch lying yet, but everything has taken on that freshly whitewashed look.

Yesterday was another rest day, being busy. An electrical double socket in the kitchen ceiling [sic] decided to overheat. As they do in old [people's] homes. I coped with the electrics but there was considerable extra work revealing the cables above the boarded ceiling. Just another day in paradise for the Jack-of-all-trades. [Good at none?]

Getting an electrician in requires a second mortgage in Denmark. Which is why most Danish homes have hundreds of extension cables draped across the floor, ceilings and furnishings from multi-sockets and plugs leading to more multi-sockets. Fortunately, in my case it meant a simple component substitution. Which avoided a compulsory visit from the electrician's mafia. With the usual menaces and regular 'protection' payments to follow.

Unlike well established, British, ring main standards, both lighting and sockets are all on the same, single spur from the meter. Protected only by one 10A fuse in the CU it means you can't boil a kettle while making toast. Nor run the washing machine while using a power tool. Fortunately the domestic hot water tank is on its own 3-phase supply. So at least you can take a bath by candle or torch light when everything else has gone black. We have grown accustomed to leaving small LED torches around in fixed places.

Denmark does not recognise new ideas until a Dane has independently reinvented the wheel. So ring mains and earthed sockets are strictly alien technology. There is a trend towards 3-pin earth sockets with new installations I believe. Though what the earth is connected to is quite another matter.

It all seemed so terribly backwards when we came over here. Even smart Danish houses and apartments had festoons of visible installation cables clipped to walls and ceiling and flex running everywhere. Electrical fires are commonplace but hardly surprising when electricians cost at least £200 per hour. Plus travelling time, frequent paid fag and chat breaks, sick leave, kindergarten fees and foreign holidays on top. Plus the customer pays at least four times the retail price for the same sockets and switches which are readily available at every DIY outlet. Yet the trade can buy exactly the same items, wholesale, in bulk, at a fraction of the normal retail price.

Perhaps we have just been very unlucky but we have been robbed several times now. You could have a full home rewire in Britain for the cost of adding a couple of extra sockets to the existing single spur in Denmark.

We once asked the local El-mafiosi for two-way light switching in the previously unlit entrance hall of our old cottage With a new socket in the middle intended for the occasional vacuum cleaner. These "authorized" cowboys put the two way lighting switches in the middle of the hall. Then fixed double sockets at each end where the light switches should have gone! A greater level of sheer, drooling idiocy would be hard to imagine.

They wanted £1200 quid [equivalent] for their one day's slapstick farce by one "qualified" junior electrician. It took the previously cocky boss more time and 7 core cable to provide the requested 2-way lighting switches at each end. Where he left an open socket housing where he had moved a square light switch into a double depth, rectangular, switched socket box in the wall. A curious child could easily put their fingers up behind the light switch to touch live components. I see the fleet of cowboy's vans almost every day as they race through the village high streets on their way to another  robbery  "job." Their understanding of the rules of the road match that of electrical installation!

Juvenile Triffid hiding in a roadside hedge in wait of innocent cyclists and walkers. The unwary could be caught and suffer a slow and agonizing death in full view of passing psychopaths. What you might call "a commuter sentence." 😲

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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