Can you believe it’s Halloween again? Whilst most of us are getting ready for the trick-or-treaters, getting our Halloween outfits sorted for the party, or getting together to watch a horror movie with our friends, spare a thought for the Sparky who could be working in dark and often dangerous spaces like those spider ridden attics or damp rat infested basements!
The risk of electrocution and fire in our homes is a real danger, where faulty electrics are concerned. Problems are caused when down lights don’t have proper thermal protection, there are exposed wires, wiring isn’t tightly connected or insulated, there’s too much load on daisy chained sockets and lighting installed in fixtures they weren’t designed to be housed in.
To give you an idea of what our fellow sparkies have to deal with on a regular basis, we've put together a sample of some real electrical horrors that are lurking out there.
This one looks like a ticking time bomb! A metered mains supply for the building was ‘hacked’ by bare uninsulated wires - possibly from tenants attempting to bypass the meter. You can also see signs of a previous fire!
Aaaah don’t scream! - This is enough to scare the living daylights out of most of us! But I think this electrocuted ‘Cannibal snake’ bit off more than he could chew. I bet it gave the electrician a bit of a fright!
This gooey mess looks like ghost slime! It’s what can happen if you don’t uncoil an extension lead fully when in use! Imagine if this was near to something that was easily combustible!
SHOCKING! But did you know that most European countries allow sockets in a bathroom within 3 metres of the shower! If I stayed here I would definitely go without a shower rather than risk getting electrocuted. Thank goodness for UK Wiring Regs!
Dangers are everywhere so beware! Loose terminals and missing fuse carriers all add up to trouble. Plus a fuse can blow with a lot of force!
What horrors are lurking under the floorboards? Never put your hands in to have a feel about, otherwise you could get a very nasty electric shock!
Oops! I hope the mains were turned off before he started screwing into this box, otherwise this would have gone off with a big bang.
This is what a loose connection or too much load can result in inside a consumer unit. It looks like there’s been a fire and it’s melted the cables.
Anyone scared or rats or mice? I guess everyone needs a home but I bet this electrician didn’t expect to find a family of mice living in the electric panel!
The birds nest nightmare! This one is from Vietnam with what’s looks like a mix of lighting, telecom and mains cables – although with the cables all being black it’s difficult to tell!
Make sure your plugs are frequently checked to make sure they are properly wired. This is a very common cause of house fires, so please make sure you this doesn’t happen in your home.
Now that we’ve scared the heebie jeebies out of you, remember to always get a qualified electrician to do any electrical work in your home. Don’t try to do electrics yourself or you could end up looking like this guy!
And to finish, here’s a nice calming Youtube video to get you ready for Halloween, make sure you turn the sound up!!
Be safe and if you’re worried get an electrician to carry out an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) to highlight any issues that need to be resolved.
I’m sure that we have all run into problems at some point trying to remove that pesky threaded screw that seems impossible to get out! But what are the best ways to do this?
Stripped screws are a nightmare and try as you might, some just don’t want to come out. That’s when frustration takes over and before you know it, that once crosshead shape has turned into a big fat ‘O’.
There are plenty of great ideas out there, in fact too many to mention, and there is no one method that works on all screws. However, I have picked 6 techniques that I thought might be useful to share, using everything from an elastic band to an impact driver!
So, say screw it and get that thing out of there!!
1. Using a manual screwdriver
If you’re having trouble with your screwdriver bit slipping against the screw head try this simple method. Start by using a hammer to tap the screwdriver down, lodging it firmly into the screw head. This should provide the extra grip you need to twist the fastener, especially if it’s made of soft metal. If that doesn’t work, to get a better grip on the screw, cover it with a rubber band or a small piece of duct tape with the adhesive side against the screw head, as this will give extra grip. Press the material into the hole with the screwdriver and try again.
Another option, if your screw has a Phillips head, is to use a flat-head screwdriver that is narrow enough to fit within the Phillips head hole. To pull this off easily try using the rubber band method mentioned above.
2. Using an impact driver
This manual tool is great for removing threaded screws but make sure you use a good quality bit. Choose the correct screwdriver bit, ie Phillips or flathead and then insert it and tighten it. Next ensure the screw head is clear of any loose dirt and debris and ensure the bit is in the correct direction as you don’t want to tighten it up! Make sure you’re wearing your safety glasses and place the impact driver bit snugly into the screw head. Strike the handle end of the impact driver several times with a hammer. The bit will set firmly into the screw head and the impact driver head will rotate, loosening the screw. You should now be able to remove the screw by using either a drill or screwdriver.
3. Using a Screw Extractor
For those stubborn screws that just won't come out then screw extractors are a good choice as they are counter-threaded to how screws are threaded.
Screw extractors come in different sizes, so you'll need to select the right size to fit into the screw head of your stripped screw. Load the extractor into the check of your drill and tighten the chuck to hold the extractor securely. Make sure you set the drill into reverse. Because the extractor is reverse-threaded this means that with the drill in reverse the extractor bit will drill into the stripped screw and bite into the screw head. Keep drilling in reverse and the extractor will start turning the screw in reverse which will back it out.
4. Using vice-grips or pliers
This is a great way of removing a stripped screw as long as the screw isn't buried all the way. Just clamp down around the screw head and start turning! However, caution should be taken as this method could damage the surrounding surface around the screw as the jaws of the vise grip could scrape the surface.
5. Using left handed drill bits
This isn't a joke, they really to exist! Left handed drill bits are designed to be used in reverse. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the head on the screw, then put the bit in the drill and tighten. Make sure the drill is in reverse and apply firm pressure to the screw head and start the drill. Once it bites there’s a good chance that it will remove the screw.
6. Using a rotary tool
If none of the above techniques work then using a rotary tool is another option. Securely attach a thin cutting disk to your rotary tool and start to cut a thin slit in the stripped screw. Make sure it’s deep enough to fit a flathead screwdriver, but thin enough that the screwdriver has enough to grip. If your screwdriver doesn’t fit you may need to make the cut larger, but make only small cuts; if you cut off too much of the screw, a screwdriver will not catch and you will not be able to twist the screw. The rotary tool can scatter loose metal shavings around the device so make sure you wear your safety glasses.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you found these techniques useful. However, please make sure that when attempting any of these methods you take care and wear suitable safety glasses.
For more ideas on how to remove a damaged screw check out this YouTube video which covers some of the methods above and also shows a couple of extra techniques for you to try.
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