Does it have to be a metal fuse box now?

Does it have to be a metal fuse box now?

13:15 PM, 16th July 2020, About 3 years ago 25

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I am being told that to comply with new electrical regulations we need a certificate of fitness. I am also being told that the plastic fuse box/consumer unit needs to be replaced with something of non-combustible construction?

This means made of metal!

We have spent the last 50 years taking out metal fuse boxes because they are conductors of electricity. They have been replaced with plastic.
Now we are to take the plastic ones out and replace them with metal?

I am wondering if I am being told a load of nonsense?

Please can you assist?


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Neil Patterson

13:26 PM, 16th July 2020, About 3 years ago

Please do not take my word for it as I am not an electrician, but I thought I read that at worst if otherwise compliant a plastic fuse box may be a C3 recommendation as defined below.

A Code 3 means ‘Improvement Recommended’

Something has been identified that does not comply with the latest regulations but isn’t considered dangerous or present immediate or potential danger. However, it would result in a significant safety improvement if remedied. One code C3 on its own should not warrant an overall unsatisfactory report.

Des Taylor & Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence

13:57 PM, 16th July 2020, About 3 years ago

If the electrician says it needs replacing as part of his EICR then that means it’s reached end of life.

HOWEVER if it is in a fire exit route these plastic things are a real danger because the plastic is fuel for a fire (particularly from arcing inside the unit) to this end we as Fire Risk Assessors have to say you must EITHER replace it with a metal enclosed unto OR enclose it in a fully 30 minute fireproof enclosure (and probably still have to replace it in the next few years when the EICR says it’s end of life. You must do one or the other if it’s in the fire escape route

Des Taylor & Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence

13:58 PM, 16th July 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Phil Turtle, Landlord Licensing & Defence at 16/07/2020 - 13:57
And that includes if it’s under the stairs


11:01 AM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

It's a code 3 unless the consumer unit has signs of thermal damage. (Black marks where cables are arcing due to loose connections) You can get a satisfactory report with a code 3 recommendation.

Dylan Morris

11:44 AM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

Had an EICR done on a 10 year old flat with plastic fuse box inside the apartment, in cupboard next to front door. Electrician said it was fine he didn’t put it down as a C3 or even comment about it.

Reluctant Landlord

11:49 AM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

I'm going to very simply go with what the electrician says. He/she has to sign off the report and there is no way that I can check what they have assessed as I'm not a professional, which is why we all employ them in the first place...
From another angle, they have to sign an official document and issue it and they have their own responsibility for that. I have yet to hear of a LL being held liable for the use of a certified professional signing off something they have assessed to be acceptable/satisfactory at the time of the survey.
I am sure if I am wrong someone will correct me!
Until then I do all the legal checks required, use registered professionals to do so and will have anything corrected where issues arise - and I'll have all the paperwork to hand to prove it. What more can you do??

Fed Up Landlord

12:00 PM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

C3. Improvement recommended. Essentially advisory. If its not dangeous or has reached end of life or is scorched then it should be a satisfactory.

Steve Masters

13:04 PM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

Unless you have a VERY good relationship with your tradesmen I would think it's probably better to get your safety tests done by a testing specialist, someone who is not tempted to grow the job to create work for themselves.

What do others think?

Jireh Homes

15:07 PM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

Agree that plastic consumer units typically classified as C3, unless there is some other factor than simply material of construction. This also includes the older wired fuse boards, although sensible to upgrade in rental properties as avoids risk of incorrect fuse wire being used, and most younger tenants never developed this knowledge!


15:42 PM, 17th July 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 17/07/2020 - 11:44
If that's the only route of escape in a fire it should have been mentioned. The regulation came about as the London Fire Brigade raised the concerns that many fires start in plastic consumer units and spread quickly. Often they are located in the sole route of escape or under a wooden staircase. If the consumer unit was located in a detached garage it could be ommited.

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