The importance of gas meters and water main stopcocks to electricians (Main Protective Bonding)
Electricians walking into your house and demanding to see your gas meter and water main stopcock might raise eyebrows (“Sorry, I thought you was an electrician?”) It’s not that we’re looking to turn off your electricity AND your water, even if we might find it mischieveous to do so..
The reason is main protective bonding! If you have gas and electric supplies coming into your property, supplied by metal pipes coming out of the ground, you suddenly have a large amount of metal ‘earthed’ without having their own dedicated earth.
We need to make sure all this pipework is correctly earthed, and generally, the way it is correctly earthed is by clamping an earth cable within the first meter it enters the house. It just so happens that this tends to be where your gas meter and water main stopcock is. So when we ask for these fittings, really we’re after the big chunky green and yellow earth cable that’s going to be nearby.
“But if the pipework is already earthed, why do we need to earth it again?” I hear you ask. The answer is fairly science-y and boring for the average customer, but you can google “main protective bonding” if you like. This main protective bonding is the basis of a long list of safety nets than protect you from electrical shock if the worst was to happen. If we’re doing work on your electrical installation we need to make sure they’re fitted and nice and tight (with a wiggle of the cable).
When an electrician comes, you will want to make access to these available. The gas meter’s location is normally fairly obvious. The water main stopcock, however, can be a bit more tricky. They are generally found toward to the front of the property. It can be hiding in plain sight, or in a cupboard, or behind a little hatch in the bathroom, or oftentimes buried behind a kitchen unit with nothing more than a wee little hole in the back of the kitchen unit. If it’s inaccessible, or you can’t find it, it isn’t the end of the world. We can use our test instruments to see if it is connected or not.
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