karen@brightsparkelectrician.co.uk

01892 531 728

01892 531 728

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Good Connections

A socket or a light not working?

Flickering lights?


Brown scorch marks on a socket or a light switch.

Or dare we say it in a Fuse board / Consumer unit?

It is more than likely a loose neutral wire which can cause abnormal arcing around its point of connection, usually resulting in the neutral wire becoming unusually hot, burning its insulation off and even causing damage to its surroundings. 

A loose neutral wire is also the cause of the majority of electrical fires.

Arcing occurs because the loose wire does not make consistent contact. Sometimes  the  contact is made and sometimes is not made.

This can happen due to a variety of factors, such as an outside supply wire swaying in the breeze (if the wire or its connections are damaged), or it can happen inside due to changes in temperature, electrical load, or mechanical disturbance – there are a host of other probabilities where only an experienced electrician can identify the problem. 

Every time the connection is made or broken, an arc forms. Usually this arc is very brief, but it is very hot and so it causes some damage every time.

So therefore this condition of the connection gets worse over time. The timing of this incidence cannot be, a large long-lasting arc may occur. This can cause damage to the surroundings, and it can start a fire. 

Loose Neutral in a Socket

A resistive neutral is closely related to a loose neutral. A resistive neutral occurs when the neutral is connected, but it's not a very good connection. Good connections have extremely low electrical resistance, but a resistive neutral condition has an intermediate resistance -- its resistance is low enough to conduct some electricity, but too high to conduct as well as it's supposed to. This poor connection has several damaging and dangerous effects.

The resistive neutral may not be in your home – it may be UK Power Networks responsibility either out side on the supply, or in that big black fuse which leads up to your electricity meter.

One effect that we often get called out to,  is that a loose or resistive neutral can cause abnormally high and low voltages to occur in the house wiring.

A sign of this resistive neutral is that lights will get brighter than normal at odd times, such as when another circuit is turned on, or when an appliance cycles on. A resistive neutral won’t always cause the lights to get abnormally bright, but when it happens, it’s a pretty reliable indication that you have a resistive neutral.

Should you be aware of a situation in which your  lights get abnormally bright when other circuits are used, you should call either your local electrician who can inspect and adivse you to call UK Power Networks to report that you believe that there is a problem with the neutral connection. They know this can be very dangerous, so they will likely treat it as a high-priority situation.

The effect of a “resistive neutral” connection is that the connection becomes hot. The result is it can overheat its surroundings and even start a fire. This may not do either of these straight away, it will tend to get worse over time because heat accelerates the aging of the wire, its insulation, and surrounding materials.

Should fires and flickering lights not be at the top of your list of things to look out for, another very dangerous effect of these loose or resistive neutrals is that it can lead to electrical shocks and even electrocution.

The ways this can happen are extremely unpredictable and depend on exactly how your house is wired and the exact condition of the wiring.

If you are in any doubt, and having read through this and seen the pictures call your Local NICEIC Registered Electrician.

At Bright Spark Electrical Services, it is simple, either give us a call, or contact us via our enquiry page "Request Quote".

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