At worst, faulty electrics can be a serious fire hazard and can lead to fatal electric shocks. For this exact reason electrics were brought in to the building regulations under Part P. Existing wiring installations are not covered, but if you make significant alterations or new additions to the wiring in your home, the regulations come into effect. If you live in or are considering buying an older property (30 years plus) then its advised you have the wiring checked by an expert.
This is called an EICR (it used to be called a periodic electrical inspection). The EICR will provide official feed back and if you use Quantum Electrical Services Ltd we'll also provide you with a free estimate for any work highlighted as needing doing so that you can take this into consideration if viewing a prospective property. If you already own the property and are considering renovating then its also essential to get a thorough understanding of the electrical wiring in your home. Adding additional sockets and lights will increase the demand on your existing electrical installation and if its not suitable can lead to serious consequences.
Just putting a new fuse board on if all the wiring in the house is sub standard is not sufficient. If you areconverting a loft or garage, this will constitute new work and therefore all of the new wiring will have to conform to Part P: Electrical Safety, and all existing wiring will have to be improved to ensure that it is able to carry any additional loads safely. You will also need earthing to current requirements.
When is Rewiring Necessary? As a rough guide wiring installed more than 35 years ago can be described as old and requiring an increased maintenance plan if not rewiring completely. Modern consumer demands for electricity in homes has changed massively since the 1970s and so if a property has not already been rewired within the last 25-30 years, the chances are it will need upgrading at least in part in order to bring it up to current standards and meet a modern homes requirments. If you plan major re-furbishment work that constitutes a material alteration as defined by the Building Regulations, it is likely that you will need to rewire part, if not all, of the property, including upgrading the consumer unit (fuse box).
How old is the wiring in my home? For someone uneducated in building electrical wiring it can be very difficult to determine the age and condition of the wiring. As a general guide... Cables coated in black rubber were phased out in the 1960s. Cables coated in lead or fabric were installed before the1960s. In both cases this type of wiring is aged and requires replacing. A fusebox with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard mixture of fuse boxes was installed before the 1960s. This needs replacing. You might reason "if its not broken, why fix it?" With risk critical services such as electricity and gas it is not appropriate or indeed safe to wait until something fails or becomes unfit for purpose before attending to it. An electrical point failing under load is a very real fire risk. Sometimes you may notice what can only be described as a green goo (also known as green gunge) exuding from the ends of older PVC insulated and sheathed cable. It is typicaly seen in cables made and installed in the 1960s and 1970s. Its caused by processes that used to be used in the manufacture of cable. Namelythe plasticiser used to provide flexibility in the PVC polymer compound. This is generally di-octyl phthalate, which over time or with excessive heat has reacted with the copper conductors to produce copper phthalate (hence the green colour) suspended in the liquid plasticiser.
The material is a health concern, so should be handled with care - gloves should be used and waste disposed of properly. If you do come across this its likely to be symptoms of old wiring and requires expert attention from an electrician. Older round pin sockets and round light switches, braided flex hanging from ceiling roses, brown and black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards dates back to before the 1960s. Wall-mounted light switches in bathrooms dates back to before the 1960s. Another clue is the colour and style of the cabling, which you should be able to see at light fittings, around the fuse box. Modern electrical installations are wired in PVCu insulated cable coloured grey or white. Unless the wiring is the modern PVCu coated type, then a rewire is likely to be necessary. If you see any old rubber insulated cabling, fabric insulated cabling (used until the 1960s), or lead insulated cabling (used until 1955) then it needs replacing as the insulation can rot and/or break down, leading to short circuiting: a fire hazard and potential electrocution. Some PVCu cable may need replacing if it is not twin earthed cabling (with a second earth cable running within the outer sleeve used to minimise the risk of electric shock), but this may only be evident if you are able to remove a switch or socket faceplate and look closely. Cable without earthing usualy indicates pre 1974 installation. Removing electrical face plates should only be done by a fully qualified electrician. Again this is carried out with an EICR and quickly identified either way.
What next? Quantum Electrical Services Ltd carries out many rewiring projects every year. We also provide a no hassle 24 month labor and parts warranty. With years of expertise under our belt we are well qualified to advise you on the best way forward including the best electrical wiring to suit your needs. We provide EICRs from Â£150 and estimates are free. For further advise contact Dan on 07943818877.