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My smart meter installation was aborted due to asbestos - What should I do next?

  • 7 February 2021
  • 24 replies
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Hi

my smart meter was being installed Friday but the engineer failed it and said it has an asbestos backboard behind the meter.…

I am not sure it is. I have a digital meter which would be fairly new? I’m not sure they would have fitted that meter to asbestos…

 


any ideas?

 

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 8 February 2021, 13:48

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Hey there @Darthtrader !

That does seem rather… Unusual to me. How old is the property if you’re OK with me asking?

It is true that asbestos causes nightmares and I can understand why the engineer didn’t want to go ahead. Probably the best solution would be to see if that backboard can be switched out with another one that isn’t filled with asbestos, which should resolve the problem.

Yea I am trying to figure out if it is asbestos. No one seems to know. The house is 1950/60. It’s ex council so it rings all the alarm bells for asbestos…. 

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Updated on 05/01/23 by Emmanuelle_OVO

 

Sorry to hear that we weren’t able to install your smart meters as planned. 

 

Why are asbestos backboards an issue?


In some properties, meter backboards were fitted which were made out of asbestos. There are a number of safety issues with asbestos backboards, and if damaged, can pose a serious risk to the occupants of the property. We're unable to remove or fit meters onto asbestos backboards, as there is a high chance that the asbestos would be disturbed and release dangerous particles into the air. Therefore, any job in which an asbestos backboard is present will be aborted by our engineers.

 

Who’s responsible for replacing a meter backboard?


As you can see on our great guide, the meter backboard is maintained by your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). It sounds like Scottish Power Energy Networks are your DNO, so our engineer will have notified them of the issue.  The DNO should contact you to schedule in the necessary work based on it’s urgency, see the timeframes for each category below:

 

Category Timescale for DNO to attend
A Emergency - fix will be implemented ASAP, usually that day.
B 4-6 weeks
C 4-6 months


Unfortunately we cannot speed any of these up - as they are decided by the DNO, although if you’re still waiting to hear from them it might be worth contacting them directly to check when the maintenance work will be scheduled.

 

You can find out more about DNO’s (including their contact details) on our DNO guide.

 

I’ve had the meter board replaced - How do I re-book a smart meter exchange?

 

Great news! You can usually re-book a smart meter appointment on your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS). If you’re unable to do this here, reach out to our Support Team (they may need to log that the asbestos has been removed before booking).

 

You’ll soon be able to enjoy the benefits of a smart meter!

 

OVO member but not got a smart meter yet? - Book today!

Smart meter not communicating with OVO? Fill in this Online Form, the answers will go straight to the right team!

Interested but not yet an OVO member? - Check out our plans!

 

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Yea I am trying to figure out if it is asbestos. No one seems to know. The house is 1950/60. It’s ex council so it rings all the alarm bells for asbestos…. 

 

Hmm… That’s kinda borderline in a way. I can’t remember exactly when the discovery was made about asbestos being really nasty stuff and when the policies would have changed as a result. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was after your house was built.

 

Thanks for bringing this up though @Darthtrader !

 

I know for a fact that by 2000, asbestos was definitely off the menu though! But yeah, based on the info that the old Elf n Safety Man told me, it’s very likely that your house would have some traces of asbestos due to age.

 

The best advice I can probably give then, is to try and figure out how to get that stuff flushed out and disposed of safely. Hopefully your DNO can help there.

 

In the meantime, probably not a good idea to drill through any walls!!!

I have been waiting 2 years to have my asbestos board changed. I keep being passed around OVO say contact DNO and DNO say contact OVO. I am told electricity suppliers have to arrange it with DNO if they don’t have a qualified engineer to change the board according to the 2012 legislation. It’s very frustrating that no one seems to want to deal with it at the same time of being lobbied to have a smart meter

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Hi there @Langleyjane .

This can be a slightly tricky one here, especially due to the asbestos. In some cases, it might be the responsibility of the supplier, other times it’s the DNO. I can try to figure this out for you though.

Could you snap a few photos of your meter, main fuse and backboard and pop that in your next reply? Ideally, if you can get them all into one photo, that makes it even easier for us to help out.

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Hmmmm I thought it was always the DNO. They own the meter board, our engineers can’t even touch it or the cut out. That was my understanding. 

 

However it may be that the supplier (in this case us) send the DNO a report to confirm the work required, and the category (urgency) of the work. That leads us to the info in the ‘best answer’, copied here:

 

OVO engineer job cancellations when a DNO visit is needed


If one of our engineers is unable to complete a meter exchange or another job due to an issue with DNO equipment, the engineer will categorise the issue (depending on the type of fault and its urgency - see the table below) and send a report (called an E88) to the DNO. The DNO will then contact you directly to arrange a visit. Once the DNO has attended, you will need to contact OVO to be re-booked for your appointment.
 

Category Timescale for DNO to attend
A Emergency - fix will be implemented ASAP, usually that day.
B 4-6 weeks
C 4-6 months


If you’ve got 5 minutes, @Langleyjane, message our ‘online chat’ team, here so they can check with the ‘Siteworks Second Line’ team if we need to send a report to the DNO or not. 

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The mystery also deepens a bit here!

I’ve been researching this a bit today, partially via self-service, but I also reached out to a randomly selected DNO to see what they said. Here’s the chat log from Western Power Distribution.

Here’s the chat log in text format, for accessibility purposes. To view it, please open the spoiler below. This is intended to help mainly with screen readers, as they tend to struggle with images.

Blastoise186

Hi. I’m a forum volunteer on a forum that helps people out with their energy. Someone was asking a question about how to get a meter backboard replaced to get rid of one that has asbestos. Do you have any advice?

System message

Chat started

Ellie joined the chat

Ellie

Good afternoon

If the backboard is has asbestos they need to go to their supplier to have that changed.

If not then they can raise an enquiry with us.

They can use this form

http://bit.ly/2OpVPuv (editor note: this link goes to https://www.westernpower.co.uk/contact-us/contacting-western-power/general-contact-enquiries )

for NON asbestos.

Blastoise186

Thanks. That’s brilliant

 

However… UK Power Networks tells a different story, as per https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/electricity/replace-meter-board

And to make it a bit more fun, SSEN seems to be a bit vague: https://www.ssen.co.uk/GeneralEnquiries/InsideYourHome/MeterBoard/

I’ll continue working on this later. I sense a guide idea...

Thanks for your information. I have raised the issue with OVO again who have said they will ask the DNO again. How long this takes or how they will contact me I don’t know. Do they write, email or phone? If I don’t have success  I might go the the energy regulator or my MP because I am fed up with being passed around like a parcel at the same time as receiving requests to get a Smart meter. The problem is call centres just like to get you to phone someone else because I don’t think they know the answer.

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I am fed up with being passed around like a parcel at the same time as receiving requests to get a Smart meter. 

 

Yep I can totally understand your point of view, @Langleyjane. I really do. 

 

@Blastoise186 super interesting to see your chat with WPD, you’ve put in the same URL (this one) for both examples below that. @Langleyjane if we can get clarity we’ll make sure this topic’s ‘best answer’ and any others are updated to make it clear what is needed. That way the next person that comes will know what to do straight away. 

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Whoops! I’m not sure how that happened! :open_mouth:

Should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.

Who owns the backboard thar the meter and DNO fuse unit is mounted  on? I'm being  told it is me but the equipment on it belongs to supplier and DNO.

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I think you own it but it's a moot point because the DNO and energy company's equipment is attached to it so you can't do anything to the board without their permission.

 

A quick Google search showed that UK Power Networks will replace a damaged backboard with no charge so you might find other DNOs will do the same.

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The ever helpful Western Power Distribution team has also confirmed over live chat that they’re happy to help you with replacing a meter backboard for free as well as long as you’re in their service areas. All they ask is that you supply the new backboard and they’ll happily swap them over for you.

You can pick them up pretty cheaply at loads of places like builders merchants too.

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Hi @Bob1smith,

 

You’ve come to the right place to ask this one. Just in case you hadn’t spotted it we’ve got a guide to who’s responsible for each part of your setup over here.

 

 

Have you managed to find the contact details for your DNO yet?

Yes they gave me a cost of £260 to change the board but wanted to know who would pay. My supplier BG  told me they didn't own the board, I do and they don't pay to change the boards of asbestos fiber.

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Ahh… The asbestos might be the issue here…

Would you be happy to tell us either which region you’re in, or who your DNO is by any chance? It might help us to research this further.

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Sorry for the confusion, @Bob1smith - you might have spotted a bit of an error we need to correct in that guide.

 

As your supplier has mentioned, the meter backboard is your responsibility to replace or maintain, although your supplier or DNO can carry out this work there is usually a cost involved. Things can be more complicated when there is asbestos on-site. Check out this advice taken from the ‘Best Answer’ above.: 

 

Asbestos backboards

 

In some properties, meter backboards were fitted which were made out of asbestos. There are a number of safety issues with asbestos backboards, and if damaged, can pose a serious risk to the occupants of the property. We're unable to remove or fit meters onto asbestos backboards, as there is a high chance that the asbestos would be disturbed and release dangerous particles into the air. Therefore, any job in which an asbestos backboard is present would be aborted by our engineers.

Some DNOs are able to work on and remove asbestos backboards if the cut out is located on the backboard as well, so we recommend contacting your DNO to discuss if this is an option for them. However, there would likely be a charge for this.

 

I hope this information is helpful in getting this sorted.

If the Asbestos backboard for the GAS meter; who’s responsibility to remove it; OVO and Cadent are passing the blame to each other without any solution in sight

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That would be Cadent if memory serves, assuming the backboard really is attached to the gas meter - which is rare.

If it’s for the electricity meter, your DNO can try to assist, but they may ask that you purchase a new backboard first - they’re pretty cheap to get at builders merchants.

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If the Asbestos backboard for the GAS meter; who’s responsibility to remove it; OVO and Cadent are passing the blame to each other without any solution in sight

An energy meter backboard is generally the responsibility of the property owner. 
 

 

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Hi @Kennedy,

 

I can only imagine how frustrated you must be being passed between different teams without an answer in sight. 

 

@BPLightlog is right in saying the backboard is the responsibility of the homeowner. I found a handy article which gives you a breakdown of who owns what. https://forum.ovoenergy.com/my-smart-home-138/who-owns-what-your-guide-on-cut-outs-meters-fuses-and-who-s-responsible-8447?tid=8447&fid=138

 

@Blastoise186 also raises a good point it’s rare for a gas meter to be attached to a backboard but not unheard of. 

 

I hope this helps. 

 

If the Asbestos backboard for the GAS meter; who’s responsibility to remove it; OVO and Cadent are passing the blame to each other without any solution in sight

 

Its worth first having the boarding tested to see if it is indeed asbestos, at the moment it sounds like speculation?  Id get a surveyor in or get an asbestos testing kit and send a sample off, then you know for sure what you’re dealing with.

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If the Asbestos backboard for the GAS meter; who’s responsibility to remove it; OVO and Cadent are passing the blame to each other without any solution in sight

 

Its worth first having the boarding tested to see if it is indeed asbestos, at the moment it sounds like speculation?  Id get a surveyor in or get an asbestos testing kit and send a sample off, then you know for sure what you’re dealing with.

 

This is some helpful advice @Kennedy from one of our Community Members.

 

Did you manage to get this sorted?

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