Condition Of Meter Tails
Checking the “Condition Of Meter Tails” is another important visual inspection completed as part of this section.
This inspection is particularly pertinent as the meter tails often receive a certain amount of abuse which renders them particularly susceptible to damage.
The meter tails on an installation are really 2 separate items:
- Supplier meter tails: The tails between the supplier service head and the electric meter/metering equipment
- Consumer meter tails: The tails between the electric meter/metering equipment and the fuse board/consumer unit
If you are unsure exactly what you are looking for, or need to check you are inspecting to the latest standards, our full 18th edition guide to the “condition of meter tails” will help out!
What am I checking exactly with the condition of meter tails?
The meter tails are usually old, regularly unsupported and quite often have some form of either damage or incorrect installation.
It doesn’t help that DNO engineers, meter fitters and electricians can never decide who is responsible for them and so they often get “overlooked” as their repair is often thought to be someone else’s job!
You should pay particular attention to the following items:
- Physical Damage to Meter Tails – Checking the condition of meter tails can reveal physical damage to the cables outer sheath and insulation. They are often installed in cellars, switchgear cupboards and meter cupboards which can make them more at risk of being inadvertently damaged. The meter tails between the service head and the metering equipment are possibly less likely to be damaged, simply because they are shorter. However tails between the meter and the consumer unit can be longer and can also pass between parts of building fabric (from external meter box to internal consumer unit for example) A check of the condition of meter tails should be visual only and simply, at this stage, be checking that no pieces are missing from the meter tails.
- Older Meter Tails – Older meter tails may be made from braided cable. This can often be deteriorated and may even expose the live conductor below. If there are worries over the meter tails between the service head and the meter then the DNO should be able to sort these for you. The consumer side tails are more difficult sadly. Whilst an electrician should be checking (and changing if required) these tails, the meter will be sealed. As such you will need the customers energy supplier to unsealed the meter and install the tails to the supply.
- Unsheathed Basic Insulation – A commonly seen issue with meter tails is that of unsheathed basic insulation. This is an issue where the outer sheathing has been stripped back too far during installation and left the exposed inner “basic insulation” without any covering. If this has been done so that the basic insulation is visible outside of an enclosure then the meter tails are in a poor condition and need reporting for remedial work.
Checking Condition of Meter Tails
In the Pictures Below are a selection of pictures showing the inspections required to check the condition of meter tails:
Twin & Earth Cable As Meter Tails
One thing that we have seen a number of times which should be flagged up in this section is the use of incorrect type of cable as Meter tails.
This is often seen in the example of “Twin & Earth Cable” being used instead of dedicated single core meter tails.
Whilst some may argue that there is nothing wrong with using different cables, particularly multi-core cable, there is no suitable way to terminate these at the meter without exposing unsheathed basic insulation.
Obviously this is not an acceptable practise and is the main reason why dedicated 6181Y single core cable is used as Meter tails.
It should be noted that Twin & Earth Cable can safely be used as a submain with a suitable switched fuse supplying it. This arrangement is often seen in blocks of flats.
The meter will feed the switched fuse in a plant room with 6181Y single core meter tails, and the submain between the switched fuse and the consumer unit within the flat itself. This particular arrangement is allowable as long as the correct fault & additional protection requirements are met as per BS7671 (ie: 30mA RCD protection if the cable is buried less than 50mm from the finished wall surface)
Summary & Conclusion
Ultimately this check is one of common sense.
If the tails are damaged or incorrectly installed then this must be recorded appropriately on the schedule of inspections.
The classification code to be given really depends on the severity of the issue seen. Any form of bare live conductors or damage to the tails that exposes live parts would be a C1 – Danger Present issue.
Unsheathed basic insulation visible where it is able to be touched (such as alongside the meter or an isolator) would be a C2 – Potentially Dangerous issue.
If you need to find the electricity supplier, the customer should be able to give you these details. However, if you are dealing with an empty property, you can check on the following website to check who the supplier is.
See our full guide to the Meter Tail Regulations 2022