Electricity is something most of us take for granted, without giving much thought to its awesome power. But if your home is in need or rewiring, that awesome power may become worryingly or even dangerously obvious. This could potentially lead to electric shocks or fires. Here we discuss seven signs you should be rewiring your home.
“Rewiring your home can mitigate the risk of a potential electrical accident occurring as a result of old and poor or damaged wiring,” says Martyn Allen, technical director at the campaigning charity, Electrical Safety First (ESF).
Why consider rewiring your home?
“Home owners should be wary of the warning signs that the property’s wiring may need replacing.”
The cost of rewiring can be quite shocking – Allen says it can set homeowners back anything from £3,000-£5,000 for an average house. And cost isn’t the only consideration. He warns that rewiring your home will inevitably cause some disruption, including the need to re-plaster and re-paper walls after the work is complete. Then there’s the length of time it takes – the electrical work should take around a week, with redecorating after that.
However, ESF points out that if your home does need rewiring, there’s an alternative way to improve the safety of your electrics. Replacing the consumer unit or fuse box with a modern one that will include RCDs (residual current device, a life-saving unit designed to prevent fatal electric shocks if something live is touched) will protect homeowners from the dangers of mains electricity.
Allen says installing such a unit will take around half a day and set you back approximately £500. He adds: “If homeowners want to check the wiring in their home, we recommend using a competent, registered electrician to undertake the work.”
7 warning signs that you should be rewiring your home
1. Persistent burning smell
If you haven’t burned your dinner and there’s a burning smell that won’t go away, your house may need rewiring.
If you smell burning and can’t identify the source, turn off the power at the circuit and contact an electrician immediately. The odour, warns Allen, is the “distinctive smell of an electrical burn which is similar to that of fish”. This is one of the biggest signs you should be rewiring your home, and needs rectifying immediately.
2. Scorched or discoloured sockets or switches
Brown marks on electrical sockets can be the result of tiny fires caused by loose connections inside the sockets. These can create little arcs of electricity and even fire.
And a lack of scorch marks doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no problem, as the arcing could occur in the wiring within the walls. Don’t ignore any discolouration, as the problem could become more dangerous.
3. Fuses blow repeatedly
If the fuses blow regularly and randomly, it could be a sign that you should be rewiring your home.
It could simply be a faulty appliance causing the problem, but if it keeps happening and you can’t identify the appliance behind it, get an electrician to check your wiring.
4. Flickering or dimming lights
One flickering or dimming light is probably just a fault with a bulb, but if you notice regular flickering lights in several rooms it could be a sign of electrical problems. Get this checked out as soon as possible.
5. Electric shocks
If you receive an electric shock, however small, when plugging an electrical appliance into a socket then your wiring needs checking urgently. Similarly, if you hear a buzzing sound from a socket, get it checked.
6. Hanging sockets
If one or more wall sockets are hanging off the wall, exposing the wires behind them, it can be very dangerous – particularly if you have children or pets. Get an electrician to mend the socket and check the whole system quickly.
7. An old house
If your house is more than 30 years old and you don’t know if it’s been rewired, or the switches, sockets and fuse box look old, you should get an electrician to have a look at your electrical system.
It’s recommended that your electrical installation is tested every ten years if you own your home, and every five years if you rent. Older houses also tend to have fewer electrical sockets, meaning extension leads are more likely to be used, and sockets can sometimes be dangerously overloaded.
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