New flat old electrics

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.
Questions:
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? 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? And why is there no electrical equivalant of the gas safety check?
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 wiring overheating?
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 say.
I wanted to put a washing machine in the cellar, assuming I can get it down the stairs. I sense that drainage might be a problem though. Many moons ago I lived in a shared house where the landlord had put a toilet in the basement. Wellies were needed to reach the kitchen.
I have to move and quickly, otherwise I wouldn't have taken the house :)
Thanks
john
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A reasonable check is often the lighting wiring, as many will put in new power stuff but leave that. If it's not PVC, then it's old.
But by the sound of it you'd be best to get a pro to check it out.
--
*I took an IQ test and the results were negative.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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"Sneezy" wrote | 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. | Questions: | 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 disconnection.
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 licence.
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 wiring | overheating?
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 | say.
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 down | the stairs. I sense that drainage might be a problem though. Many moons ago | 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.
Owain
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"Owain" wrote | 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.
I would add that it should be a socket strip that has its own 13A fuse in the strip, as the fuse in the 15A fused plug is (obviously) being removed in this situation.
Owain
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"Owain" wrote | "Owain" wrote | | 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. | I would add that it should be a socket strip that has its own 13A fuse | in the strip, as the fuse in the 15A fused plug is (obviously) being ^ oops. 13A fused being substituted with 15A unfused.
Owain
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Exactly what they've discovered - that the existing fuse box is to old to accept a new circuit for the cooker. My question is, can they "just" replace the fuse box with a modern one and connect a cooker circuit, or will fitting a new fuse box mean that the existing wiring has to be replaced - i.e. a complete rewire of the house?
john
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Sneezy wrote:

Not necessarily. Within the letter of teh regulatins, your minimal solution is a single new fusebox with a single new fuse and a single new cokker wire etc.
Personally I would at least replace the old fuse box with a newer bigger one. Because its not much extra work and with luck the old wires will be long enough to fit to it without rewiring.

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"Sneezy" wrote | > 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. | Exactly what they've discovered - that the existing fuse box | is to old to accept a new circuit for the cooker. My question | is, can they "just" replace the fuse box with a modern one | and connect a cooker circuit, or will fitting a new fuse box | mean that the existing wiring has to be replaced - i.e. a | complete rewire of the house?
It depends on how bad the existing wiring is. Anyone connecting wiring to the mains has a responsibility for its safety. It doesn't necessarily have to be fully compliant with the Regs but it must not be unsafe. Someone who fits a new CU and reconnects old wiring to it may have to defend that decision in a coroner's court.
Do you have rubber or lead-sheathed wiring / round pin plugs / double-pole fusing / lighting points with no earth - I think these all indicate full rewire is needed.
Do you have rewirable fuses / no RCD on sockets / whole-house RCD - these all suggest some upgrading is required to approach current standards
If it's your flat, rewiring is in your interests ultimately. If it's rented, your landlord has a duty to ensure the property is safe.
Owain
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You could just add a separate individual switch fuse for a cooker circuit. Or, if the wiring is fit for future service, the CU could be changed for a larger modern type.
--
*You sound reasonable......time to up my medication

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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a
I wouldn't install an electric cooker if you have a gas supply available. Electric cookers are a poor third best.

That would depend on the wiring. It may look old, but if it is mid 1970's PVC, then it may be OK. OTOH, if you have no earth in the lighting circuit, it will make adding new lighting points illegal. If it is rubber or even weirder stuff, you need a complete rewire. Any rubber wiring will by definition have vastly exceeded its expected life.

There is. Ask for a IEE Periodic Inspection certificate from a NICEIC registered firm.

wiring
To answer that requires an inspection of the wiring.

The test that will let you know is to firstly do a visual inspection, then do a continuity test on all final circuits and an insulation resistance test on the whole lot. That is basically what the IEE inspection is. Basically, you are not competent to do it as you don't know what you are looking for and don't have the expensive equipment required, so need a friend or reputable firm to do it for you.

down
Saniflo do a system that will pump the drainage back up stairs. They are much more reliable when you don't pump a toilet too, although even then they can be reliable if you ban children, visitors and women from using them, as the preceding all tend to shove stuff down them that belongs in bins.
Christian.
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Thanks for the info. Sounds like I'm in for interesting time of things :) I'll add a fire extinguisher to the list. Might be easier to site the washing machine in the living-room-stroke-kitchen and put the fridge in the cellar. I'll get plenty of exercise going up and down the stairs to retrieve milk :) I guess I'll also have to get rid of the electric cooker in favour of a gas one. More expense and I don't trust myself with naked flames either - I'm accident prone :-S
john
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