Do I Need to Rewire?

Rewire or update?

If you’re reading this you are probably trying to work out the answer to this question and it’s not a simple answer but i’m going to make it as easy as possible for you to decide.

As with most things in life, electrical cables and accessories, (lights, switches, sockets etc) degrade over time so at one point it is inevitable that they will need to be replaced but timing is everything, you don't want to replace a system unnecessarily early, nor do you want to wait until faults occur or it becomes a hazard.

In order to decide if you need a rewire you need to know;

A few general facts about electrical installations,

A little bit about your existing installation, 

And how will you use your property in the coming years.

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General Electrical installation facts

How long does an electrical installation last for?

A good quality electrical installation can last 50 years or more if well maintained and not heavily modified or updated with ‘DIY work’, (by DIY work I mean anything that hasn't been installed correctly or does not meet regulations, therefore potentially unsafe).

Wiring regulations change over time;

We are currently on the 18th edition of the wiring regulations, this version came into effect from 1st January 2019, this means all new electrical work must meet these regulations, including new additions and alterations. 

So if you are looking to have work done anywhere in your home, bathroom, kitchens and extensions etc any parts of the electrical installation affected must meet the new regulations.

Main changes over recent editions to be aware of:

RCD protection on all circuits (with few exceptions).

Non combustible consumer units (fuse box must now be metal).

Separation of circuits e.g. sockets, lights, boiler, smoke alarms, cooker etc.

Earthing on all circuits.

Earthing to metal incoming services, typically gas and water supply.

Some common old installation techniques are now considered undesirable or potentially dangerous;

This includes not having earthing in lighting circuits. 

Small or no earthing to water and gas supplies. 

Hidden and inaccessible junction boxes.

Minimal number of circuits. 

Borrowed neutral cables. 

Multiple services combined on one circuit e.g. Cookers, Heating & Lighting supplies on socket circuits.

Obsolete types of cables.

These are just a few issues that may exist in an older or badly designed electrical installation.

Cables and accessories degrade over time;

The insulating coating of cables naturally break down over time, this leave the cables susceptible to faults and the potential for dangerous shocks. 

The overall resistance of cables will also increase over time from a number of factors but most notable from oxidation of the cables, reactions between two different metals and connections loosening over time which can also cause arcing and permanent damage in the form of overheating.

What condition is your electrical installation in?

Get it tested.

The best way to find out the condition of your electrical installation is to have it tested but this may not be necessary, a visual inspection may give you the answers you need depending on your intentions with your property.

An Electrician can perform an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) The main tests performed in this inspection will be insulation and continuity tests, these test will check the condition of the cables insulation sheaths and conductors making sure they will be safe in the event that a fault occurs.

Along with a number of other test and a visual inspection an electrician can make you aware of any faults along with non compliance to wiring regulations, any issues found will be indicated with a number, (much like a home inspection report) detailing the severity. When complete this inspection will give you a good indication of your installations current condition.

So what should be checked?

Age

Although not directly related to the condition, age can give you an indication of the condition of your installation, if you have any paperwork indicating the age of the installation, this would be a good place to start.

Cable and accessories

The type of cable, consumer unit (Fuse box) and accessories (lights, switches, sockets etc), can be an indication of the overall age and condition of the installation although components like the consumer unit and switches are often replaced before the cables which can give the appearance of a newer system, this can even show on home reports when purchasing a property giving the impression of a new system when in reality it could be at the end of its life.

Is there any DIY work?

Not all electrical installation will have met the requirements of the day and may not be suitable or safe to use. Some DIY work will be clear to see where as other faults such as incorrect cable or fuse size or type will be less obvious.

Professional tests

An Electrician can perform an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) The main tests performed in this inspection will be insulation and continuity tests, these test will check the ability of the cables insulation sheaths making sure they can stop a short circuit, also the overall resistance of the cables ensuring the voltage will be consistent throughout the circuit.

Along with a number of other test and a visual inspection an electrician can make you aware of any faults along with non compliance to wiring regulations, any issues found will be indicated with a number, (much like a home inspection report) detailing the severity. When complete this inspection will give you a good indication of your installations current condition.

How will you use your property in the future?

This is by far the most important question when it comes to deciding to rewire your property.

 

Are you happy with your property’s aesthetics? 

Do you intend to refurbish? 

Are you extending?

Will you be renting out the property? 

 

Each of these scenarios coupled with the existing condition of your electrical installation will influence your decision. 

Happy with your property’s aesthetics?

If you are happy with your property’s condition and you are not intending to do any major renovation or alterations you may want to leave the electrical installation in place even if it is a bit on the old side and rewire at a more appropriate time. 

In this case having a ‘full EICR’ performed to check the condition of the electrical installation will be sufficient as long as there are no faults found. 

Please note that I mentioned full EICR, as EICR’s are done for different reasons e.g. letting a property, fault finding, missing documentation etc. some EICR’s performed are more thorough than others, sometimes limitatiations are agreed with the clients so that only a percentages of circuits are tested or some tests dropped all together.

Considering a full renovation?

If your electrical installation is around 30 years old, you should think about replacing it whatever its existing condition, knowing an installation will last 50 years the opportunity to replace the installation again without the need to refurbish would be unlikely.

Considering that most clients request considerable modifications especially in the kitchen and general lighting throughout the rest of the property a rewire is advisable as mentioned earlier there may be existing undesirable installation techniques.

Having an extension?

If extending the scenarios need to be considered, if your installation is around 30 years old and a rewire is not an option then installing new dedicated circuits for your extension is recommended. This removes any reliance on the old system and a guarantee can be provided to cover all of the work being undertaken.

Renting out a property?

The cost of a rewire will probably be the main concern in this situation but realistically it should be safety and reliability / maintenance.

Most rental property's are long term investments with upfront costs recouped over many years. During this time the main goal for landlords is to maximise returns, so unwanted maintenance costs and loss of rent caused by a poor quality or old electrical installation would be less than desirable.

With rental properties the same considerations should be taken as if it were a renovation with additional consideration given to certain aspects:

RCBO consumer unit (fuse box) over dual RCD.

Smoke alarms:

  • On a dedicated circuit
  • With integrated 10 year back up battery.
  • And an easy access test and reset button.

Integrated non removable LED lighting where possible. 

High quality accessories for long term durability.

Quiet + powerful extractor fans in bathrooms (with overrun timer), kitchen + utility. 

To sum up

Unless there is an existing issue with your electrical installation either a noticeable fault or established during an inspection rewiring your property will be a personal choice, you will need to take into account the existing age and condition of the installation and your future intentions for the property.

Hopefully the above information has helped you to decide whether or not to rewire.  

If you require any personal advice please get in contact and I will be happy to advice with a Free Quote and Visual Inspection.

Contact us now for a Free Quote & Visual Inspection

Nothing says more about our work than our customers Reviews.

"Exceptional work! I have recently had my property rewired by Gospage electrical, I don't normally add reviews but these guys deserve it. I was really happy with the quick process and the jobs was completed in the estimated time frame. The cost was fixed from the point of quoting so no scary moment when it came to paying the invoice. What more can you ask for."
John Hamilton
FreeIndex

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