Old rubber insulated wiring


Two questions:-
My mother house still has the original rubber insulated wiring. This quarter her electricity bill was 7 times the amout of the same quarter the previous year. Is it possible that the insulation could have broken down in such a way as to draw current and not produce any obvious smoke/smell of burning etc.
Secondly, is it OK for a competant but unqualified person to rewire a house to a new consumer unit and then have a qualified electrician come in and check the installation and swing the meter tails over to the new consumer unit.
Obviously I'm aware a rewire is a matter of great urgency. At the first opportunity I plan to turn off every eletrical appliance in the house and see if the meter is still turning.
Regards
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It seems unlikely. One place you can lose energy without noticing is if it's leaking to a ground rod and therefore heating up the earth. See if the meter is spinning. Switch everything off, and then check if the meter is still spinning. If so, pull the circuit fuses one by one and see which one is causing this.
Does she have any electric heating which might have been left on unexpectedly? I managed to accidently leave a convector heat on over the summer once in a rarely used room. Fortunately it was on a thermostat, but I estimate that cost me 50.

Yes. You should probably find an electrician to do this before you start though, and talk things through so you don't finish the job and he then tells you you've done it all wrong. Obviously I can't tell how competent you are, and to quote Rumsfeld, you don't know how many unknown unknowns you have. Also the wiring regs are changing quite substantially this year.
Don't fiddle with any of the rubber wire -- that can wreck it instantly.
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Andrew Gabriel
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writes:

Thanks for the quick reply. First job on my next day off work is to go round every room and switch off everything and see what the meter does. The whole three storey house has two fuses in old ceramic holders. I'm guessing one for lighting and one for everything else.

This bill was 620 ish and working out the units used between the reading on the last bill and current date showed she is heading for another 600 bill this current quarter.

I rewired my own house way back when it didn't matter (or nobody cared).

That is my concern. My mother is 83 and wouldn't like the disruption of a carpets and floorboards up rewire so I'd planned on surface mounted sockets and trunking for the rings so I could leave existing wiring alone. Rather that than the place going up in flames with my mother in it. I'm fairly sure the lighting circuits are all in metal conduit so with time and a fight I may be able to get new lighting wiring through that way. That would be when I'd have to try and get power off and when the old wiring insulation would crumble I guess.
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. .
You've obviously checked the meter and done your own sums... It strikes me as a phenomenal amount, even for a winter quarter with no other energy source (gas, oil etc). Though, AFAICS, you don't say how large the house is - and whether in the coldest part of UK....
Clearly, and as others here have said,checking no unit-hungry appliance is permanently on, and that no-one else is tapping into your Mum's supply, are things to check urgently.
But there's something else I want to add, if not too cheeky, re....

Is there any way your Mum would be prepared to move out for a short period - maybe holiday, visit friends etc...? It seems to me that a complete re-wire this day and age, without flush mounting everything, and channelling in all cabling, is not a financially sound proposition. Yes, it will cost more in the short-run... but how much more satisfying and rewarding...?
Hope that doesn't seem too impertinent or mercenary a comment....
--
Martin





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It's a three storey, five bedroom terraced house in SW London. So - far from the coldest place in the country and not a lot of heat loss through the party walls. Also the majority of heating is gas fires although there are a couple of electric heaters on low. But they have always been running.

I'm thinking the cheap clamp meter from Maplin on one of the meter tails while I switch everything in the house off will be a good indication. I don't think there is any way anybody could be tapping into the supply.
The only thing that used to only be turned on during the day but is now running 24 hours is a pond pump.

Not at all. I had thought of packing her off to my brothers in Yorkshire but any upheaval streses her. Following my fathers death she keeps saying "when I go they'll only rip everything out and start again". (I wish she wouldn't keep saying that). At the risk of sounding horribley brutal myself, the wiring will be ripped out by the new owners sometime in the future. Plus the redecorating involved. Plus the need for speed. Plus she can keep appliances running on the old wiring while I tackle the new.
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writes:

Also double check her bills and check that there are no discrepancies due to actual meter reading vs extimated ones. I once got an extra 180 bill when my meter was eventually read. You should also try a quick test of the meter. Turn everything off, check the meter is not spinning and then apply a known load (say a 2kW heater) and count the number of revolutions the meter makes against how many it should make. 10 minutes should be plenty of time to see if it is spinning 7 times too fast.

Check the immersion heater is switched off.

You may find an electrician to do this, some will some won't. As Andrew suggested, find the sparkie before you start.

Scary stuff rubber wire. Keep away from it.
Adam
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writes:

I should be able to get that done Tuesday.

I've done a calculation on the last meter reading and the current meter reading and she is heading for another 600 bill for this quarter so it is consistent.

I'm fairly sure that goes on each morning for something like 15 minutes although it could get forgotten occasionally.

I'll work on that one. I'm really concerned about the place going up in flames and want to get something done ASAP.

And from the point you touch it you are without any power at all I guess. Particularly with only two fuses supplying the whole three storey house there is little chance of isolating much.

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With only 2 fuses you do not have much to go on. Even with rubber wiring there used to be a seperate fuse for the immersion on most installations.
Good luck and let us know what you find/decide to do.
Adam
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Periproct wrote:

If it is an old terrace house or semi-detached, the first place I would look was up in the loft.. Some of these properties have little or nothing to stop a neighbour from walking into the neighbour's loft and branching off one house's wiring and running their own house lighting off it.. They may have a disconnect switch and only use her electricity every second day or so.
The other thing to look for is whether she has had a run of estimated readings over the last year or so - but an actual reading for the quarter with a high bill. It is very easy for estimated use to fall way behind actual use and a big catch-up bill is the result.
It is highly unlikely that faulty wiring will put the electricity bill up significantly. Burn the house down, yes.
The other, very remote, possibility is that the meter has gone wonky. You can test this yourself by switching everything off (so the consumption stops) and putting in a standard load (eg a 100W lamp, 1kW fan heater) and timing how long it takes to clock up one increment.
--
Sue


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get or borrow one of these :-)
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Free_UK_Delivery/Clamp_Meters_20839.htm
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Free_UK_Delivery/Clamp_Meters_20839.htm
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I think her neighbours wouldn't have a clue how to do that. Too busy wondering whether to spend the weekend on the yacht or at the cottage in the country. (My late Dad worked hard to get a great house).

I will check but since my Dad died my Mum isn't out much and I'm fairly sure she's had a run of non estimated readings.

That's my big concern.

I'm going to have to get the calculator out. :-) I'll give that a try Tuesday.
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On Sun, 13 Jan 2008 14:38:01 +0000, Periproct wrote:

wiring for safe use so that you can disconnect all the old rubber stuff immediately. Install just enough to supply essentials to give yourself breathing space and peace of mind.
I did this some years ago when the house I'd just bought needed a complete rewire.
Cic.
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