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PVC and church wiring

 

My grandfather was a plumber who after a nasty injury retrained as an electrical clock and fire alarm repair man. As a result my grandfather because a skilled electrical worker. As a teenager my grandfather showed me the dire state of the insulation on the wires which went into the electricity meter at his church.

What had happened was that when a worker from the electric power company came to change the meter, the worker noticed that the insulation of the ‘meter tails’ (high current  wires between the meter and the fusebox) was crumbling in his hand. The two men agreed that in the interests of safety it would be a good idea to not reconnect the electric power to the church. My grandfather removed a lot of old wiring (natural rubber insulated) and early man-made rubber (styrene-butadiene rubber SBR) from the church and he replaced it with modern PVC. Then a man from the electric power company connected the new church wiring to the public mains supply.

The nice thing about PVC is that it does not perish in the same way as an unsaturated polymer such as polyisoprene (rubber from the rubber tree) or SBR. Well made PVC with the right amount of plasticisers might last forever if it is installed correctly in a house (or a church).

While PVC might be a dirty chemical to make (vinyl chloride causes a nasty form of cancer), it is a plastic which makes the use of electric power in houses, shops, ships, and churches safer. Anyone who suggests that a church is immune to fire because God will protect it and thus can play fast and loose with fire safety should be reminded of Luke 4:12 where Jesus remarked “‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test” when he was tempted to do something reckless.

PVC can help to prevent the vile pollution caused when a house (or church) burns down. So it is not fair on PVC to judge it just by the dirtiness of the polymer production process, it is important to look at the of the whole life cycle and not just one part.

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