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Broken power cable in conduit

  • 21-08-2021 3:10pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭ carveone

    Hi everyone. My apt building has power running through a conduit to a junction box. Then two cables lead out from there to the outside pillar lights that flank the automatic gates. In the picture "conduit_box", the incoming conduit is in the middle with the outgoing on left and right.

    The cable in the right conduit has live and neutral broken about an inch or two short of the box (yes, that's a guess). The conduit runs under the tarmac to the light on the right pillar in the "outside_lights" picture.

    I hauled on the remaining earth wire for a bit with a pliers but nothing moved. I'm a bit bemused here. What do people do when faced with this? Would spraying WD-40 help? I could remove the right side light and try hauling on that cable instead?

    I'm considered cutting the armour off near the ground to get something to connect to but if it's further down I'll look like an idiot!

    Googling for similar situations says that quite a lot of cases involve getting out a jackhammer. Yeah, not sure that would be so great 😀

    Edit: Background: I was with a RECI electrician when this was going on. I'm not quite nuts enough to play with third party electrical equipment! The management company asked me to make an evaluation on costs or alternatives. One of which is a battery powered right light...

    Post edited by carveone on


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,678 ✭✭✭✭ listermint

    Are you a reci? And insured to be doing this type of work . I'd be reluctant to have someone doing this if I was part of the management company. Have you no contract to vendors?

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,893 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

    I must be missing something, it looks to me like there are electrical cables that are set straight into concrete and which are not in conduit, if we are talking about the the box in the centre of the pic and not the conduits to the left. The mind boggles.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭ carveone

    That's a completely valid point and no I'm not a reci. I decided putting in the background would make the post too waffly but then I realised that someone would mention RECI (which got there before I edited the post 😀). I did electronic technician work for long enough that I know what "third party liability" means and how to avoid getting one's ass sued off!!

    What happened was that I got the management company to send out an electrician to play "find the short in our external lighting". Fair dues, after much muttering he found that the L and N had shorted in that conduit. Burned to bits - he could pull the 2" or so of burnt wire out without cutting it.

    I was sitting there with him when he was seeing if the wire would move. It wouldn't so he closed up and was done. It's only one light that doesn't work and it's Good Enough. I was just wondering how much pain it would be to rerun a cable...

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,678 ✭✭✭✭ listermint

    Fair enough.

    Yes it will involve digging back the cable with an impact . I'd assume the cable is probably caught or the conduit is breached it could be at that end. But could be anywhere. Taking some of the tarmac back shouldn't be a big deal there . Can get bags of the stuff to fill your small inspection hole afterwards.

    Obviously make sure there's nothing live anywhere there first.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭ carveone

    The conduits to the left are for the gate and look like nice big conduits. The box in the centre is just lighting wire and the conduits are much narrower - 1/2" or so. I guess that's all that necessary. I thought they were metal at first but they do bend easily enough.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭ carveone

    Yes. I see what you mean. I think the conduit is breached - it's certainly mucky enough in there. Many many spiders...

    For some bizarre reason I was thinking "dig a trench across the face of the gate" but sure I just need *enough* access to the cable, not access to the entire length! Sheesh I'm thick sometimes.

    That makes a whole lot of sense and I'll go back to the mgmt company with that.

    Thanks for that! I just needed someone sensible to point it out to me.

    (It's a small block of 6 apts so I do minor things like change bulbs or clean the washing machine filters to save a few bob on call out fees. Apparently this is rocket science. People then assume I'm going to be digging trenches and rewiring the block 😉).

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,893 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

    Obviously I am off in judging the scale of things. I was going off the screw heads on the junction box and the grain of the mortar and those 'conduits' looked like 7mm cable to me, not 13mm conduits.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭ carveone

    Actually, that's a point. I should place a ruler down when taking these photos in future for scale. Sure it could be any size! I should have taken a picture with the cover off too but it was bucketing rain 😂

    There's another white conduit at the back which holds the signal cable for the side gate intercom (disconnected due to kids pressing it and running away) which runs into the same junction box. It's all low voltage telephone cable sized wires taped together in a big fluffly mess with 240V lighting running through the middle of it to connector blocks wrapped in tape. It all makes me unhappy frankly but the electrician didn't think it was a big deal...