Rewiring your home: what you need to know
Dodgy electrics are, at least, a nuisance and, at worst, they can be a severe fire hazard. Faulty wiring causes 12,500 house fires a year, so ensuring that your wiring is correct and up to date should be a pressing concern, especially if you live in a period property. Here’s what you need to know about the process and what to look out for…
Image credit: Ali@gwc.org.uk via Wikimedia
When might a property need rewiring?
If your property is over 25 years old, and has not been rewired within the last 25 years then it is probable that the building’s electrics need upgrading to bring them up to the current standards and demands of modern electrical devices.
In addition to this, if you are extending your home or converting your loft, your new wiring will have to conform to the regulations set down in the government’s Part P: Electrical Safety document. This means that all existing wiring in the property will also need to be improved so that it can carry the additional demands safely.
Major remodelling of a room may also require you to rewire part, if not all, of your home, so that it adheres to building regulations. In older properties this may involve fitting a new consumer unit (commonly referred to as a fuse box).
Signs to look out for
The easiest way to see if your home’s electrics are in need of updating is to look at the fuse box. If it has a wooden back, metal switches, ceramic fuses, or a mixture of fuses, it’s likely to be an old fuse box which, in most cases, is a sure fire sign that all of your electrics are out of date.
If your home features any old-style round switches, sockets fixed to the skirting boards or wires with casing made from rubber or fabric (which were phased out in the 1960s) it may be a good idea to have an electrical survey carried out to see if your home’s wiring is safe.
A full rewiring involves an electrician, or team of electricians, removing all of the electrical wiring in every room of your home. Lights, sockets and switches are also all removed and updated to modern ones. This can be fairly disruptive as the walls will need be chased/channelled out for wiring to be hidden inside them and floorboards will also need to be removed to fit cables inside. So rewiring is best carried out when redecoration is also planned.
Aside from making your electrics far safer and more reliable, rewiring your house means you can move and fit more switches, power outlets and light fixtures. Which means you can completely rejig the layout of a room, putting in new lighting fittings or for example being able to put the TV in a better location, without needing to use extension cords which can be dangerous and ugly.
You also get the option to fit modern ‘smart’ plugs and switches which allow you to do all sorts of things such as control your lights through your phone or smart speaker..
Use the right people
Lastly, as rewiring is a complicated and potentially dangerous job if carried out incorrectly, it is vital to use the right people.
Ask to see an electrician’s qualifications and check to see if they are registered with an organisation such as NICEIC or ELECSA. Also, get them to show you their public liability insurance so you have piece of mind that cover is in place should anything go wrong.
A necessary update
Rewiring can a big job. However, old electrics can be dangerous and are the cause of 12,500 fires, 750 serious accidents and 30 deaths in the home a year. So it is not something you should put off if you think it needs carrying out. Have a look at the signs, and if you’re worried, have an electrical survey carried out.