| When I move into my new house I'm told I'll get a certificate
| saying that the gas appliances won't kill me in my sleep,
| which is nice. However, I don't get anything to say that turning
| on a light won't give me a new hair style. The one socket I
| spotted could best be described as a period feature - it's an
| old, pokey, damp terrace house with a "merged" kitchen/living
| room and one bedroom. It was too dark to venture into the cellar
| to find the fuse board but having been in similar houses it'll
| no doubt be the death trap variety that still uses fuse wire.
| I've asked for a connection point for an electric cooker - at the
| moment there's only one for gas but it's not even a proper twist
| connector, just a pipe. How hard is it generally speaking to fit
| new sockets, etc. to ancient wiring? Would it be opening a can
| of worms?
Any new work should comply with current IEE regs. It is not possible to fit
new sockets onto old wiring unless the resulting circuit will be compliant.
It is usual in these cases to run a new circuit back to the consumer unit
(which will be done anyway with a cooker) but your problem arises if the
fuse box is unable to accept the new circuit or is not compliant (eg double
pole fusing), which usually means a separate switchfuse teed into the meter
tails on henley blocks ... Then you find the house only ever had a 10A
supply for lighting anyway ...
The 15A round pin 3-pin sockets were usually installed one per circuit and
earthed, so are comparatively reliable. A 4-way socket strip with its plug
changed to 15A will save having to change all your appliance plugs as a
(very) temporary measure.
| Is the landlord or any electrician for that matter
| unlikely to attempt adding new sockets without first ensuring the
| house complies with basic safety standards?
Existing wiring does not usually have to be brought up to current standards,
but if it fails very basic safety standards the supply co can insist in
If you are in rented property the landlord should have a safety check made.
| And why is there no electrical equivalant of the gas safety check?
There is, an IEE Periodic Inspection And Test. However it tends to assume
the installation is reasonably modern and was installed to comply with
regulations to start off with.
Such an inspection is mandatory in Scotland for rented property with an HMO
The landlord has a duty to ensure the property is safe for tenants.
| I'll be running a lot of electrical devices - heater, PC, printer, and so
| on. Can I expect to encounter problems with fuses blowing because of the
| load and the dodgy wiring? Are there fire hazard issues with the old
Yes and yes. There may also be shock hazards.
| Is there anything I can do to "measure" how safe things are? I know there
| are meters that test sockets but I don't know how to interpret what they
The basics would be a visual inspection, an insulation test (with a 500V
test meter) on the installation, continuity test on the earthing, and
polarity test on switches and sockets. They really need to be carried out
with the appropriate test equipment by someone who has the G&C certificate
for inspection and testing wiring or equivalent knowledge.
| I wanted to put a washing machine in the cellar, assuming I can get it
| the stairs. I sense that drainage might be a problem though. Many moons
| I lived in a shared house where the landlord had put a toilet in the
| basement. Wellies were needed to reach the kitchen.
Some washing machines (Miele) will pump quite high if you get the
manufacturer's extension hose. Otherwise one of the 'sani...' type products
may be suitable. If you are installing a w/m in a damp cellar you *must*
ensure your earth bonding and RCD protection is up to scratch.