Rewiring a house is always recommended to be carried out by a qualified electrician. As an electrician or tradesperson, you know rewiring a home is a big project that requires careful planning. But with house electrical wiring regulations, tools and supplies changing frequently, there may be some aspects of the job you haven’t considered. Particularly if it’s a job you don’t do regularly.
This professional’s guide will give you a clear understanding of what to consider when rewiring a house and the best practice to follow. Discover the signs that indicate a house needs rewiring and what a rewire involves. Learn what Electrical Installation Condition Reports and current wiring regulations are.
Signs a House Needs Rewiring
If a home hasn’t been rewired for 25-30 years or more, it may need wiring work to bring it up to current standards. But there are other typical signs to look out for that indicate when to rewire a house, such as:
The consumer unit trips out regularly, and fuses or bulbs blow
There’s a crackling or buzzing noise from electrical sockets
The electrical wiring is covered in black rubber, fabric or lead
There are signs of burning, such as discolouration around plugs and sockets or a burning smell
Lights are constantly flickering, and bulbs need to be changed often
There are switches made of cast iron
There’s no labelling on the consumer unit
The consumer unit has a wooden back
Sockets are broken or cracked
Sockets have rounded plug entries instead of 3-pin entries
There are less than two plug sockets in each room
Plugs get very hot
Please note, it is always recommended that this work is completed by a qualified electrician.
What Does Rewiring a House Involve?
Rewiring a house typically involves removing old wiring and installing new electrical wiring and all related components as follows:
Electrical cables are replaced, and a new consumer unit is installed
New cabling is fitted into the walls and beneath the floors
Back boxes on all switches and sockets are replaced with new back boxes
Power and lighting circuits are rewired
Telephone and tv aerial sockets are rewired
Switches, sockets and light fixtures are added or moved if required
Cabling for new technology, such as speakers, CCTV cameras, automated lighting etc., is added if required
All of this wiring work can be broken down into two stages, known as ‘fixes’:
The first fix stage is where you’ll do all the work needed on hidden cabling that must be carried out before plastering. The work typically includes cutting chases and installing cabling into the walls. Then fitting new back boxes for switches and sockets. Rewiring power, heating and lighting circuits. Rewiring phone and TV aerial sockets. Plus, adding cabling for new technology such as burglar alarms, CCTV cameras, smoke detectors, doorbells, outdoor lighting etc.
When cutting chases into walls, there are some key things to remember to ensure you comply with electrical regulations and don’t compromise the stability of the wall:
A vertical chase must not be cut any deeper than one-third of the total wall thickness
In a cavity wall, a vertical chase must be no deeper than one-third of the thickness of the skin it’s being placed in
No chases, whether horizontal or vertical, should be made back-to-back
A horizontal chase must not be cut any deeper than one-sixth of the total wall thickness
In a cavity wall, a horizontal chase must be no deeper than one-sixth of the thickness of the skin it’s being placed in
Chases must go from A to B in a straight line, vertically or horizontally. There must be no diagonal chases
The second fix stage is carried out once all re-plastering is completed and the walls are made good. The work typically includes wiring in the faceplates on switches and sockets. Wiring in light fittings. Connecting items such as cookers, extractor fans, electric showers, heating controls etc. Then everything is connected to the consumer unit and tested to ensure it’s all live.
What is an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
An Electrical Installation Condition Report is a report that’s written following an inspection of the electrics within a property. Its aim is to find and report any damage or wear and tear that may cause electric shocks, high temperatures or affect its safety in any other way. It also identifies any wiring work that doesn’t meet Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) electrical wiring regulations and serves as an important record of a home’s electrical wiring condition that’s used in future inspections.
There are two types of report:
Visual condition report : This type of report is only suitable for properties that have already been fully tested recently. It doesn’t involve any testing, just a visual inspection to confirm the electrics are safe to use until the next inspection. It includes checks such as ensuring electrical sockets aren’t overloaded and appliances have Residual Current Device (RCD) protection.
Periodic inspection report: This type of report covers a full inspection and testing of the electrics in a property, including circuitry hidden behind walls. It’s recommended this inspection is carried out every 10 years for private homes and every five years for landlords.
When homeowners or landlords receive their report, they must have any highlighted faulty or outdated wiring work replaced or fixed. This ensures the house is abiding by the latest UK electrical wiring regulations and the wiring installation is safe.
What are the Wiring Regulations
The UK’s current wiring regulations (18th edition) are the national standard for all domestic electrical wiring work. They set the rules for the installation of fixed cabling within a property to ensure safety.
The regulations state the work must be compliant with Approved Document Part P of the Building Regulations, following the rules of BS7671 - often referred to as the IET wiring regulations. They cover the design, installation, inspection, testing and certification of electrical wiring. All wiring work must be completed to this standard