Twisted earths outside junction

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by Carld, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. Carld

    Carld New Member

    Hi. I'm thinking of fitting porch light from junction under the floor but see that the earths on the existing junction are twisted outside box, is this right? Incidentally the second older junction underneath has the four wires going in cut off, is this right? I'm in old council house so all previous electrical work done by professional sparkies.



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  2. terrymac

    terrymac Screwfix Select

    The earth conductors shouldn't be twisted together ,or left outside the JBox.
    The other JB that has cables cut ,may be redundant and not connected to anything ,but treat them as live and dangerous until proved otherwise by testing .
  3. Nomenklatura

    Nomenklatura Active Member


    Not the first time I've seen it done though.
  4. Bazza

    Bazza Screwfix Select

    Possibly, but back in the past it was common practice for earths to be twisted like that outside a junction box.
    The regulations then probably did not prohibit this, but they do not allow it now.

    Also junction boxes such as those, with screw terminals, were permitted under floors. Today they are not. If the junction is inaccessible it should be a “maintenance free” type. To do the job properly you should be changing that junction for a compliant MF type.
    ElecCEng and tore81 like this.
  5. Ian Atkins

    Ian Atkins Member

    Sorry to hijack the post a little, I’ve seen the term “maintenance free” mentioned several times in the forum regarding connections. If certain connection boxes e.g wago boxes are maintenance free this implies other connections are not maintenance free and therefore require maintenance? What sort of maintenance would the connection box in this post require or have I misinterpreted the term “maintenance free”?
    I’m not questioning the advice given, just asking out of curiosity. Thanks
  6. Bazza

    Bazza Screwfix Select

    Regulation 526.3 requires that every connection shall be accessible for inspection, testing and maintenance. There are 6 exceptions to this rule. Exception (vi) is:
    “Equipment complying with BS 5733 for a maintenance free accessory and marked with the symbol and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions”.
    BS 5733 defines a maintenance free accessory as:
    “An accessory which does not require further inspection, testing or maintenance after installation in a circuit, and which incorporates screwless terminals and cable clamps to secure any associated cables”.

    The junction must comply with BS5733 and there are a number of these available (Ashley and Hager for example).
    Note that a Wago connector is MF but only if enclosed in a WAGOBOX. It is the full assembly that makes it comply.
    Housing Wago connectors in, say, a patress box, and hidden under the floor does not meet the requirements.
    tore81 and Ian Atkins like this.
  7. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    This installation work was carried out when having an earth wire for lighting circuits was a new fangled idea back in the period not long after the Wiring Regulations required an earth wire as a circuit protective conductor in lighting circuits for the first time.

    During the period that manufacturers started making cables with a CPC to comply with change in the Wiring Regulations that was coming in there were two issues, the first issue was that some electricians thought they did not need to use them and just cut them off, I have found lighting circuits with all the CPCs cut back at the fittings and have had to work had to get a connector onto the ends of the cut conductors in fittings to make sound earth connections. The second issue was that many of the fittings did not actually have earth terminals in them, so there wasn’t anywhere to terminate them.

    So it became accepted practice to just twist these conductors together outside the fittings as you have found based on the premise that they weren’t really needed and there wasn’t terminals in fittings for them, so as long as you joined them together one way or another the job was a good’un.

    Having said that I did once open a metal fuse board that was installed in the 1960’s and there was not a single earth conductor inside it despite having an earth bar, the electrician who installed it had twisted every earth wire together behind the fuse board in one big knot.

    Ideally you need to replace the junction boxes and sort the earth wires out as yo go along, what are the earth connections like at the light fittings and switches?
  8. MrP123

    MrP123 New Member

    Define, "accessible" ?
  9. Comlec

    Comlec Screwfix Select

    The word is used 95 time in the current version of the wiring regulations, so it is fairly easy to understand what the IET mean by accessible.

    Essentially, to be accessible a person must be gain access to it to perform maintenance or attach test equipment.
    For example a light sensor at the top of a lamppost is accessible albeit with the use of a cherry picker. However a junction box buried in a wall or underground in not.
  10. MrP123

    MrP123 New Member

    Then how did it get there?
  11. Bazza

    Bazza Screwfix Select

    There is no definition of the term “accessible” in BS7671. It is up to the installer to interpret the situation.
    You could say that a junction in a ceiling with a tile floor above is accessible, you could cut a chunk out of the ceiling below to gain access! But that isn’t the general idea.

    Consider the junction in a floor space. In my opinion, accessibility will depend on the floor covering:
    Tiled floor - not accessible
    Carpeted floor- not accessible
    Laminate floor - well, you can lift this stuff and put it back, so maybe.
    Engineered flooring - not accessible
    Beautiful finished original floor in listed property????
    (I’ll put my tin hat on while this is argued over the next week)

    The easiest way, if installing new, or meeting an existing JB, like the OP, is to use an MF junction. Then there’s no issue.
  12. Comlec

    Comlec Screwfix Select

    Another way of thinking about accessibly is would the next person easily find what you had installed. Electricians generally know where to look, what to remove and where junctions and accessories might be. If they can be easily found then they are probably accessible.
    However, accessibility is often at odds with decorative desirability so stuff gets tiled over, boxed in, lofts get floored etc etc.
    So much better to keep joints to a minimum and placed where they will not get hidden eg in accessories (switches, sockets ceiling roses) or make them maintenance free.
    Bazza likes this.
  13. Nomenklatura

    Nomenklatura Active Member

    You mean so-called professional electricians ignoring what the regulations said because they didn't like it?

    Surely not.
  14. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    I seem to recall that I have either heard, or read, that "accessible" means you don't need tools to get to it....
    For example, if it's behind an item of furniture, (It might need moving, but just hands can do that), it's accessible...
    It it's under floorboards, you would need tools to take the floorboards up, so it's not accessible.
    I'm afraid I can't provide any verification of that however... it's just something I remember, but I don't know where from!

    Regarding an earlier question about "what maintenence would be needed"... The point is that screw terminals can/do become loose with time, either due to vibration, or thermal stresses, potentially leading to poor connection... so maintemence can be required.... "maintenence free" junction boxes don't use screw teminals, they use spring loaded one, which don't suffer from the "becoming loose with time" issue.

    I believe, (but as usual I'm open to correction), that soldered connection or those that have been "properly" crimped may also be regarded as "Maintenence Free"

    When reading the above bear in mind that I'm DIY, not a pro tradesman!!


  15. Carld

    Carld New Member

    I don't know if there are earths as the last time I did electrical work was 20 years ago, fitted shower. I think they are earthed the house appears to have been rewired in the early 90s, and, of course, the earths shown suggests they all are.

    Many thanks all I will get maintenance free boxes.

  16. Carld

    Carld New Member

    Any idea which wagobox and which series connectors would be best for replacing circular box with both in and out mains? can only see ones with three holes and need one with 4 for the earths methinks.
  17. Teki

    Teki Screwfix Select

  18. Bazza

    Bazza Screwfix Select

    The (US) NEC have a definition of readily accessible, but that is for access to breakers, bus bars etc. It says this:

    readily accessible
    Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to actions such as to use tools, to climb over or remove obstacles, or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.

    That’s maybe what you are thinking about?
  19. longboat

    longboat Screwfix Select

    I'd like to see someone get to the connections in a light switch or consumer unit without using tools.
  20. Bazza

    Bazza Screwfix Select

    The American “readily accessible” term does not deal with that sort of thing. That is why I specifically said
    But that is not a UK thing. Sorry I even mentioned it.

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