Electrocution deaths: Experts urge people to check their water heaters regularly

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SINGAPORE: People ought to check their water heaters regularly and ensure it isn’t utilizing a three-pin plug, specialists stated.

This comes after an aged couple and their son died in a flat in Jurong Lakeside in December 2020 after being electrocuted as a result of the cables within the plug supplying energy to their immediate water heater fused collectively. 

The flat’s heater was powered by a three-pin plug linked to an extension outlet, which was in flip linked to an influence outlet within the kitchen, stated an Energy Market Authority engineer who testified throughout a coroner’s inquiry.

When the plug to the water heater was opened after the incident, the cables inside had been “badly burnt” and the earth cable and impartial cable had fused collectively.

The engineer stated that the cables fused as a result of they had been overloaded. The plug had a 13-amp fuse however the most present when the water heater was working was greater than 14 amps.

CNA spoke to specialists about how one can guarantee your water heater is secure.

  • Water heaters ought to be linked to a swap for water heaters, not a three-pin plug

Electricians and engineers CNA spoke to stated a three-pin plug can not assist masses larger than 13 amps, and currents for water heaters are bigger than that. 

Instead, water heaters ought to be linked with a swap meant for water heaters. These are normally ones with indicator lights when they’re turned on. 

Mr Benetton Chan, director {of electrical} and plumbing companies firm Sparkflow, stated it’s nonetheless widespread to see three-pin plugs used for water heaters in some properties. 

Many householders have been utilizing water heaters with this setup for greater than 10 years with no incidents, he added. 

“The plug itself supports up to 13 amps. The heater uses, let’s say 14 amps. That means the plug itself will have to work even harder to fulfil that 14 amps, but the limit for that plug is only 13 amps. It gets hot because it works even harder, and that’s why the wire burns,” he defined. 

“The regulation has always been to use a heater switch.”

If the water heater has already been put in wrongly, householders ought to name an electrician to change the wiring, he burdened. 

“We will have to run a new set of wires from the main circuit breaker, all the way to the toilet,” stated Mr Chan. 

His workforce normally prices about S$100 to S$200 for this, relying on the gap, he added. 

  • Look out for different adjustments to the water heater which may point out electrical injury

Connection factors are the “most common places” that begin to warmth up when water heaters run into points, stated Mr Wang Gucheng, senior supervisor of the clear power analysis centre at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Engineering. 

People who discover a burnt odor ought to name an expert electrician, specialists stated. If the switches begin to flip black, this could possibly be a “telltale sign” that the wires are burnt or about to begin burning, stated Mr Chan. 

They also needs to contact an electrician if any a part of the water heater or swap feels unexpectedly sizzling, stated Mr Wang. 

  • Buy water heaters with the Safety Mark and a leakage detection safety perform 

Experts burdened that people ought to make it possible for the water heater they purchase ought to have the SG Safety Mark. 

“Some water heaters have a leakage detection protection function. If you purchase that one, there is a test button that allows you to test that function. Test the protection function regularly,” stated Mr Wang. 

A traditional water heater might final between eight and 12 years, he added. If the water heater turns into previous, householders ought to get skilled electricians to check on the situation of their home equipment. 

A typical water heater has a guaranty of up to 5 years, stated Mr Chan. 

“As long as it crosses the warranty period, it’s better to check already. I think that’s the safest way,” he added. 

  • Installation of a water heater ought to be carried out by a licensed electrician 

Mr Chan and his workforce have additionally encountered people who’ve tried to set up their personal water heaters, although they don’t have the suitable electrical work licences. 

“They think it’s not working, then they call us. They complain that it is the heater’s problem. In fact, it is their installation that is incorrect,” he stated. 

When hiring an electrician to set up a water heater, householders can ask the employee to present them their licence card. The card ought to have their {photograph}, their title, id card quantity and licence quantity, stated Mr Wang. 

These electricians have been skilled to be certain that the wiring is finished appropriately and safely. They even have skilled gear that may detect any potential dangers within the present wiring or connection, he added. 

Mr Chan additionally suggested householders to have an expert electrician check their water heaters “every once in a while”. 

“There are a few things you have to check. First is if the wires are still intact or not, if there’s any sign of burnt wires. Also the switches – switches could burn as well, depending on how the previous installer tied the wires, or … the quality of the wires,” he stated.

“All these things will not happen suddenly. It will slowly build up, so (it’s) better to get an engineer to check for you.” 

It might be tough for people with out a correct electrician licence to check on the standing of the water heater and the wiring, he famous. 

“You don’t know what’s inside … unless you open up everything,” stated Mr Chan, including that he has seen cases of right wires getting used within the seen components close to the switches, however the flawed wires used within the components that aren’t uncovered. 

“There will be instances like that, so first thing … is to get a proper electrician to do all the wiring.” 

  • Check your earth leakage circuit breaker or residual present circuit breaker in your distribution board field 

Homeowners also needs to check regularly that their earth leakage circuit breakers or residual present circuit breakers are working correctly, specialists stated. 

In the Jurong Lakeside flat incident, the engineer who testified in courtroom stated that the family’s electrical circuit comprised two wiring programs: An older system put in in 1971, and a more moderen system put in when the flat underwent the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) Main Upgrading Programme accomplished in 2003.

As a part of the HDB upgrading, a residual present circuit breaker (RCCB) was put in for the newer wiring system. The RCCB would journey the system and minimize off the present when an earth leakage was detected.

The water heater drew electrical energy from the older wiring system, which was not protected by the RCCB as there was no such requirement on the time the system was put in, he instructed the inquiry. 

He stated that if the RCCB had been put in in such a method that it protected the family’s complete circuitry, it might have detected the earth leakage in the course of the incident, tripped and minimize off the present.

Homeowners ought to guarantee that there’s an RCCB in their home’s distribution field. They can ask a licensed electrician to train them how to take a look at it regularly to make it possible for it’s working, stated Mr Wang. 

If the earth leakage circuit breaker or RCCB is working appropriately, it can journey in the course of the take a look at, and all of the electrical energy in the home will instantly shut off, stated Mr Chan. 

If the electrical energy doesn’t shut off, one thing is flawed, and householders ought to name an expert electrician for assist, he added.

  • What to do if electrocution happens at residence

Beyond checking the water heater and its parts, householders can put on slippers when they’re showering to scale back the danger of getting electrocuted, stated Mr Wang. 

They also needs to cease utilizing the water heater in the event that they really feel any tingling sensation when utilizing it, he added. 

“When you’re electrocuted, you don’t have the time to react,” burdened Mr Chan. 

In the Jurong Lakeside case, one of many deceased was holding onto a metallic water hose and never carrying any footwear as he was having a shower. This induced the man to be electrocuted, stated the engineer on the coroner’s inquiry. His spouse died after she went into the toilet to assist her husband. 

Water was nonetheless flowing from the bathe head when their son arrived to check on them. Upon seeing his dad and mom on the ground, he ran to them, after which collapsed and fell on his mom’s physique.

If somebody at residence will get electrocuted, relations ought to instantly minimize off the primary energy provide utilizing the distribution field, stated Mr Chan.

“Do not try to touch the person if he or she has been electrocuted,” stated Mr Wang.

Electrocution deaths: Experts urge people to check their water heaters regularly

Ang Hwee Min

Source : channelnewsasia.com

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