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Old Nov 10th 2017, 10:13 pm   #46
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Default Re: Dreaming of moving

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Originally Posted by duztee View Post
I would add that you will almost certainly discover that your present wiring is aluminium.
so plan for a complete (copper) re-wire, and ditch the old radial system.

That would seem to be the sensible way to go about things, but…. is it problematic to have a local electrician rewire a property in the way that a property in, say, the UK is wired…. or are modern properties in Hungary now wired the same way as it is done in countries like the UK?
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 9:12 am   #47
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Default Re: Dreaming of moving

Modern properties are wired according to Hungarian standards, not UK standards, which means radial circuits, (as far as I know the UK and Ireland are about the only countries in Europe that use a ring main system).

If you insist that a Hungarian electrician installs a ring main IMO you will be asking for trouble. The electrician will be working outside his comfort zone, he will not know the methods and regulations regarding ring mains (why should he?) and you could potentially finish up with a dangerous installation. There will also be no regulatory testing as there are no standards that can be officially applied here for a ring main. Ring mains were developed in the UK after the war as a means of saving (scarce) copper wire at a time when electrical use and appliances were very different to today. Ring mains have as many disadvantages as advantages (including some safety disadvantages) and IMO there is no justification for introducing them as a new method anywhere.

So if you ask a Hungarian electrician to rewire your house he will do it using a radial system and the circuits will be protected by the appropriately rated circuit breaker and the whole system will have a 30mA ELCB to protect from electrical shock and the whole lot will be installed to approved standards and will almost certainly include an additional local earth also installed to the correct standard.

When the rewire takes place the electrician can put the sockets anywhere (that complies with the regs.) that you want. If you want sockets down low that are difficult to use and finish up behind furniture then he can do that. If you want to separate lighting and power as per the UK he can do that, but both will be on radial circuits, but what is the advantage of that separation?
If you use quality sockets (= more expensive type) you should not have problems with the sockets pulling out of the wall.

If you intend to use table lamps and alike in the living rooms I would suggest putting in a 'lamp circuit' that is additional sockets around the room wired back to a light switch by the door so that as you exit the room all the (mood) lamps can be easily switched off.
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 10:01 am   #48
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Thank you Peter…. very helpful and exactly what I needed to know ! I will go with the system that is "currently" in use in Hungary…. no point in making things more complicated than they need to be !
I would probably go for lower sockets as per UK simply because they can be more discreetly tucked away behind furniture and there would be no cables hanging down from the walls !
If, as you say, good quality sockets can be had in Hungary that will not fall apart when removing a plug, then I guess it would be pointless to have UK sockets put in.
Many thanks to all for advice given so far !
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 11:46 am   #49
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Default Re: Dreaming of moving

Peter, you explained it perfectly!
It might be a bit more expensive at first, but in the long run ...

Good decision, hobgoblin, to follow Peter's ideas.
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 1:34 pm   #50
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Good decision, hobgoblin, to follow Peter's ideas.
Thirded.
  • Unless the existing wiring is relatively new, it may have been extended/modified unprofessionally – particularly in Hungary. Rewiring by an approved contractor will give you safety, peace of mind and a valid certificate. Example: a nice new earthed socket on the wall doesn't necessarily mean that the socket's earth terminal is connected to anything! At the very least, have the system thoroughly checked over.
  • The existing system may be usable but inadequate. Rating too low, frequent trips to the meter with a torch to reset after tripping, sockets too few in number and in the wrong place, etc. (Has anyone, ever, regretted fitting too many sockets?!)
  • You can wait and see if you can make do with it as-is – making do is part of the rural Hungarian lifestyle – but if you want to wait before making a decision, don't decorate in the meantime, unless you want to decorate twice.
  • Rewiring a house you're living in is messy.
  • Labour is a substantial part of the cost and in Hungary is still comparatively cheap. It's likely not always to be this cheap though.
  • If you're rewiring anyway, "luxuries" can be installed comparatively cheaply, like the switched sockets Peter refers to. Or cables for Internet and TV.
Incidentally, the relative technical benefits of the UK and Hungarian (i.e. now essentially German) systems are the subject of many discussions, but a lot of it is simply cultural, i.e. what people are used to. Germans are shocked at the idea of any relatively recent build not having RCDs and three-phase; Brits at sockets in bathrooms, as often as not not even shrouded.

Separate lighting and power circuits: has the advantage that you can reset a power circuit trip without having to hunt for a torch in the dark.

High-level sockets: one under each light switch in a room makes vacuuming easier. The rest low-level.
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Old Nov 11th 2017, 2:09 pm   #51
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Thirded.
  • Unless the existing wiring is relatively new, it may have been extended/modified unprofessionally – particularly in Hungary. Rewiring by an approved contractor will give you safety, peace of mind and a valid certificate. Example: a nice new earthed socket on the wall doesn't necessarily mean that the socket's earth terminal is connected to anything! At the very least, have the system thoroughly checked over.
  • The existing system may be usable but inadequate. Rating too low, frequent trips to the meter with a torch to reset after tripping, sockets too few in number and in the wrong place, etc. (Has anyone, ever, regretted fitting too many sockets?!)
  • You can wait and see if you can make do with it as-is – making do is part of the rural Hungarian lifestyle – but if you want to wait before making a decision, don't decorate in the meantime, unless you want to decorate twice.
  • Rewiring a house you're living in is messy.
  • Labour is a substantial part of the cost and in Hungary is still comparatively cheap. It's likely not always to be this cheap though.
  • If you're rewiring anyway, "luxuries" can be installed comparatively cheaply, like the switched sockets Peter refers to. Or cables for Internet and TV.
Incidentally, the relative technical benefits of the UK and Hungarian (i.e. now essentially German) systems are the subject of many discussions, but a lot of it is simply cultural, i.e. what people are used to. Germans are shocked at the idea of any relatively recent build not having RCDs and three-phase; Brits at sockets in bathrooms, as often as not not even shrouded.

Separate lighting and power circuits: has the advantage that you can reset a power circuit trip without having to hunt for a torch in the dark.

High-level sockets: one under each light switch in a room makes vacuuming easier. The rest low-level.
Thank you….. it all makes sense and is the plan I would have / will be taking ! I have no idea wether it has ever been rewired as I have not investigated that far and will need an electrician to have a look as my electrical experience is limited to wiring plugs and changing light bulbs and fuses ( Don't laugh, the younger generations can't even do that in the UK !!!!!).
I know that the previous owners, German couple who were very rarely there, fitted a wood panelled ceiling with small spot lights in a small room off what is a small entrance room but other than that, I have no idea what has been done.
I have spoken to my neighbour who has fully renovated his property and he has suggested that the first thing to do is have the concrete floors dug up and have the stones underneath replaced at the same time as new pipework is done, to eliminate any damp coming up the interior walls as he says that original stones allow the damp to rise….although the exterior walls are damp proofed.
Once this has been done, the electrics will be next.
I was aware of the things I would need to do before I actually bought the house and the plan was that it would be a retirement place in what is now eight years time…. but having spent time there and experienced first hand how good it is compared to living in the UK, I want to be there now, of course !!
Unfortunately, I can't do that immediately as I would struggle to find work there…although to be fair, at my age, I can't get a job in the UK either !! However, a good friend has come up with a suggestion that may well change things in the new year…. I will see and if it works, I can move there permanently !!
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Old Nov 12th 2017, 4:20 pm   #52
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Default Re: Dreaming of moving

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I have spoken to my neighbour who has fully renovated his property and he has suggested that the first thing to do is have the concrete floors dug up and have the stones underneath replaced at the same time as new pipework is done, to eliminate any damp coming up the interior walls as he says that original stones allow the damp to rise….although the exterior walls are damp proofed.
I would be interested to know more about this. It does seem that internal walls don't always have a damp course but I don't understand how renewing the concrete floors could cure rising damp in such walls.
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Old Nov 12th 2017, 7:38 pm   #53
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I would be interested to know more about this. It does seem that internal walls don't always have a damp course but I don't understand how renewing the concrete floors could cure rising damp in such walls.
I'm not really sure myself and will need to speak to my neighbour again on this… my agent was saying that the interior walls were showing signs of damp and the plaster at floor level was falling away due to the fact that the house had been empty for so long and this did appear to be the case as when I was there last and used the wood burner, it did seem to disappear … but my neighbour said that the damp only creeps up the interior walls when the house is empty due to the stones that were used as a base beneath the concrete floors when it was originally built and that if I dig the floors up and replace them, the problem will not happen again….obviously I would prefer not to do that but….if I am going to replace the pipes for the plumbing then the floors will have to come up to an extent anyway…the difference being digging out part of the floors for the pipes or digging the whole lot out to replace the stones underneath…. I will need to get some expert advice on this, I think ! Which comes first, the rewiring or the plumbing… not sure ! I did speak to an electrician friend today and he was quite confused reading some of the answers on here….but did point out that in the UK, things seem to have gone full circle in that copper wiring is being replaced here with aluminium wiring !! He has advised getting an electrician in to check what I have and that if the casings on the wires are plastic and not crumbling, leave well alone for now. He was also at a loss as to why the radial circuit included the sockets and light switches on the same circuit rather than two separate circuits….and was also confused as to why the wiring would be ringed around each room as opposed to being in the loft space and dropped down into each room….way above my head !!!!!
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 6:33 am   #54
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Default Re: Dreaming of moving

Certainly it would be a good idea to get the electrics checked but I would advise you not to try and have separate circuits for lights. Modern practice is to have individual radial circuits for each main room, with lights and sockets on the same circuit. This does mean your lights are on a higher rated circuit breaker than you would specify in UK but it is the way they do it here. What I would ask, if it is allowed, is to have a split load consumer unit with any freezer sockets on a circuit breaker connected direct to a main switch rather than via an RCD. If the RCD trips due to a thunder storm when you are not there, you would otherwise come back to a freezer full of rotting food.
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 12:26 pm   #55
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I did speak to an electrician friend today and he was quite confused reading some of the answers on here….but did point out that in the UK, things seem to have gone full circle in that copper wiring is being replaced here with aluminium wiring !! He has advised getting an electrician in to check what I have and that if the casings on the wires are plastic and not crumbling, leave well alone for now. He was also at a loss as to why the radial circuit included the sockets and light switches on the same circuit rather than two separate circuits….and was also confused as to why the wiring would be ringed around each room as opposed to being in the loft space and dropped down into each room….way above my head !!!!!
The responses by your electrician, to me, imply that he was a UK based electrician and not used to the standards here. Goes to show why you would have problems if you tried to get a Hungarian electrician to install wiring to the UK standards. If the insulation has not degraded then ther would be no need to rewire as said by the electrician, but you have to be careful when connecting aluminium wires to new copper wires because corrosion will quickly set up between the two causing a fault. By the way if you have an old(er) house where the loft has up to 15cm on earth above the ceiling timbering you would know why you don't try to drop wires through this, also in older houses lofts are used for storage and you don't want to be tripping over wires all the time.
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 12:40 pm   #56
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Certainly it would be a good idea to get the electrics checked but I would advise you not to try and have separate circuits for lights. Modern practice is to have individual radial circuits for each main room, with lights and sockets on the same circuit. This does mean your lights are on a higher rated circuit breaker than you would specify in UK but it is the way they do it here. What I would ask, if it is allowed, is to have a split load consumer unit with any freezer sockets on a circuit breaker connected direct to a main switch rather than via an RCD. If the RCD trips due to a thunder storm when you are not there, you would otherwise come back to a freezer full of rotting food.
The function of the circuit breaker is to protect the wiring and has nothing to do with what appliance or load is placed on the circuit. So a 16A circuit will have a 16A circuit breaker to protect the 16A capacity wire from which the circuit is constructed. This is one of the problems with the UK ring main using 2.5 t&e cable with a 32A circuit breaker, fine as long as there are no faults because each side of the ring can carry 16A but if one of the conductors breaks then there is the possibility of 32A going down one 2.5mm2 wire which will only support about 20A, which eventually over heat.
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 12:44 pm   #57
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The responses by your electrician, to me, imply that he was a UK based electrician and not used to the standards here. Goes to show why you would have problems if you tried to get a Hungarian electrician to install wiring to the UK standards. If the insulation has not degraded then ther would be no need to rewire as said by the electrician, but you have to be careful when connecting aluminium wires to new copper wires because corrosion will quickly set up between the two causing a fault. By the way if you have an old(er) house where the loft has up to 15cm on earth above the ceiling timbering you would know why you don't try to drop wires through this, also in older houses lofts are used for storage and you don't want to be tripping over wires all the time.
Thank you Peter…. my friend is an electrician in the UK and so is not familiar with how things work in Hungary !
I will venture into the loft on my return and see what is what…. the house is from the 1950s so I suspect that it will indeed have earth as insulation in the loft space….I did look last time I was there but can't remember if this is the case.
More important will be to get checked the connections that the last owner did with cables as there is a small room that has had a wooden panel ceiling with spot lights put in….hopefully it is not a case of new copper cable having been hooked up to old aluminium cable… thanks for the tip !!
Would I be correct in saying then that wether I have a rewire or not, it would be wise at some point to replace the earth insulation (if it is there) and replace with modern insulation ?
Sorry for all of the questions but it is an ongoing learning curve !
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 1:13 pm   #58
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I have spoken to my neighbour who has fully renovated his property and he has suggested that the first thing to do is have the concrete floors dug up and have the stones underneath replaced at the same time as new pipework is done, to eliminate any damp coming up the interior walls as he says that original stones allow the damp to rise….although the exterior walls are damp proofed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fidobsa View Post
I would be interested to know more about this. It does seem that internal walls don't always have a damp course but I don't understand how renewing the concrete floors could cure rising damp in such walls.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobgoblins View Post
I'm not really sure myself and will need to speak to my neighbour again on this… my agent was saying that the interior walls were showing signs of damp and the plaster at floor level was falling away due to the fact that the house had been empty for so long and this did appear to be the case as when I was there last and used the wood burner, it did seem to disappear … but my neighbour said that the damp only creeps up the interior walls when the house is empty due to the stones that were used as a base beneath the concrete floors when it was originally built and that if I dig the floors up and replace them, the problem will not happen again….obviously I would prefer not to do that but….if I am going to replace the pipes for the plumbing then the floors will have to come up to an extent anyway…the difference being digging out part of the floors for the pipes or digging the whole lot out to replace the stones underneath….
I have never been a fan of the theory that a concrete floor will drive moisture into a wall. The theory says that if the floor can't 'breath' then the damp in the sub soil will be driven into an adjacent wall that does not have a damp proof course (DPC). However I have seen many walls that have no DPC and concrete floors and have no problems. Ask anyone suggesting that you replace the concrete floors if they will guarantee that the problem will be solved and see what they say! Where is the water to make the damp going to come from? Look at the water table in the surrounding land as a gauge. Once a house has been standing for a good few years then the soil under the center of the house is going to be dry unless the water table is very high i.e. almost flooding every winter. For a check drill down through the floor and see if there is any damp in the soil.

There are a number of things that will make walls damp, bad or non-existent gutters and concrete paths up to the walls around the house, both common in Hungary. The correct fix for properties built without a DPC is to put in a french drain all around the property with a load drain to take away any water in that french drain. Walls built of stone/earth can not have a DPC installed without more expense that the property is worth.

If the problem goes away when the house is inhabited then I would not be ripping up the floors. Many houses will show problems when left empty form mould behind cupboards to damp(ish) patches in the corners. The solution is to inhabit the property and accept that issues will occur if the property is empty for a time, it's just that sort of construction.

By the way I am also not a fan of burying pipes in floors or walls - its just too difficult to see any joint failures. I prefer to have them in view especially if the property will be left empty over a Hungarian winter.

Last edited by Peter_in_Hungary; Nov 13th 2017 at 1:16 pm.
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 1:57 pm   #59
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Default Re: Dreaming of moving

Addding to Peter's very good hints:

One indicator that something's wrong is a high humidity (more than 60%) in the rooms - that's why I bought several digital hygrometers/thermometers - they cost around 10€ nowadays.
If it's higher you might consider buying a "dehumidifier"- it works with calcium chloride which combines with the vapour to dry the air.
I brought some of that salt for my neighbours from Germany - because it's cheaper over there (often on offer at Lidl or Aldi ...)
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Old Nov 13th 2017, 2:46 pm   #60
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Thank you both…. I think I need an expert or two to have a good look at these things ! I am pretty sure that the area is not prone to flooding and the house itself is on higher ground than the road level. The exterior walls do have a damp proof course so no problem there…. it may well be that the estate agent was correct and much of it is due to not being lived in… I hope that is the case ! There is no sign of mould anywhere in the house so that's a good sign although some of the interior walls show a faint mark along them which would be more likely be there if it was from flooding…..something other villagers have said doesn't happen there…so I guessed it was from where moisture had crept up from floor level. There is a borehole / well near the house but every time I have looked into it, the water level is quite a way down….if it was near the top then I may have cause for concern.
If the floors do not need to come up, then yes, I would much prefer to have new plumbing put in that is not below the floors and that could be boxed in so as to be out of sight rather than buried….I guess a good plumber will be able to advise how best to proceed !
The only room that needs serious attention is the end room next to the barn….it is very damp but that is to be expected as it used to be a cattle shed apparently and still has the missing brick ventilation holes in the wall and is never heated….this room will need to be a priority I suspect.
Many thanks again for all the helpful suggestions and advice !!

Last edited by hobgoblins; Nov 13th 2017 at 2:48 pm. Reason: added...
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