June 25, 2022

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Electrical Rewiring Tips for Old Houses and Buildings

4 min read
houses electrical rewiring

Electrical rewiring is an undeniably disruptive task. But on the other hand, working with improper or faulty installation is even more dangerous. Thus, rewiring is a worthy investment for everyone. The wires or cables for your rewiring project must be inspected properly. You also need to prepare a concrete plan about what other works are needed and how much will be the cost.

Now let us come across a very common question –

Is it necessary to rewire an old house?

Let us start with the rulebook. If a property was last rewired in the late 1980s, then it is likely that the building needs some upgrading. The objective is to make sure that the property is safe as well as in compliance with the current standards. Then again if your fuse box belongs to the previous generations, then also a rewiring is likely.

Spotting the symptoms of disease and degeneration

The style of a wiring, as well as its colour many a times indicate the timeline when it has last upgraded. Before starting your inspection do not forget to turn off consumer unit or CU. If you found the wiring is not coated with PVC then chances are high you have to rewire the property. In modern installations white or grey cables are used that are insulated with PVC. Cable insulation in the past depended upon rubber, fabric or paper. These types of insulation are obsolete now and such wirings must immediately be replaced. These coatings break in course of time which can lead to a dangerous situation. 

If there exists more than one set of circuits, then do not get confused. Chances are high that those are redundant cables. This was a common practice in the past but proved to be unsafe. Even for any installation with PVC coated wiring it is ideal that only a certified should test it. Only a qualified electrician can correctly evaluate whether the wires are safe and still capable to carry loads. If the wires pass the test with flying colours, then there is no need to go for a full rewire. In such circumstance upgrading the consumer unit as well as the bonding arrangements usually prove to be enough. 

Bonding plays a vital role in making residential properties electrically safe. Even without rewiring if bonding is correctly upgraded, you can prevent the risk of being electrocuted. As a matter of fact, aesthetics also has to be taken into account as there are many old properties that have cabling mounted on the surface. This is likely to cause visual intrusion and can also lessen the heritage feeling about the building. This is also risky in other considerations; the more exposed wires are more prone to potential damage. Even if this type of wiring passes the test, you should better consider rewiring in such circumstances.

Supply of electricity

As far as old properties are concerned, the provision of services itself can pose issues. Multiple properties that are joined together can use multiple electrical supplies. Those can also share a single supply as those were under a common ownership previously. But this can spell risk or unsafe with routing and positioning factors. Only your electricity supply company can carry out alteration of your mains supply as well as the meter. These alterations prove costly and time consuming. You have to serve notice to the relevant authority several weeks in advance.

Overall effect on a building

Rewiring projects are invasive as well as disruptive. Therefore, you should better schedule this just before any re-plastering or decorating. Prepare a comprehensive plan with your electrician to ensure as little disruption as possible to the overall structure of the building. Try making electrical installations in non-sensitive zones as much as possible, like basements and roofs. This is a good idea to reduce visual effect. It is better avoiding fixing wiring to the surface of the brickwork or stone that stand as the fundamental pillar of strength for a building as that may deliver irreversible damage to the structural integrity. Do not forget using cable clips to hold the cables on mortar joints. 

Working on plastered walls

Make it a point to reuse existing electrical channels as well as socket and switch locations. All electric cables must be wrapped in plastic conduits so that rewiring in the course of time does not require cutting a wall. Try reusing the old notches made of timber at places where cables require to be passed through floor joists. A good electrician can plan the installation without having to cut down a joist. It is important to avoid notching the bottom section as this area performs most of the work. As such cutting it would weaken it too. Rather drill suitable holes along the centre line. This neutral zone at the middle bears the minimal load. The points discussed here are all general in nature. For more information to get your doubts cleared do not hesitate to speak to a structural engineer.

Preserving the basic fabric of a home

A large number of people rewire their homes because now their electrical consumption is much higher than the last time their electrics were upgraded. It is very important as well as helpful to weigh your electrical requirements with its impact on the fabric of a building. Bridging this gap is important by all means and for that higher level of intervention is required, adds a licensed professional dealing in electrical rewiring for years together in London. 

When your home has the right wiring solutions, there is much less requirements for cables and conduits. These days, wireless switches are also there to add to your fancy list. But usually in old homes with thicker walls wireless coverage may prove little difficult. However, with the right boosters and a carefully designed plan you can still avoid much of the meaningless expenses as well as disruptions.

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