Do I need to rewire my house?

Hello everyone
I've just bought a new house, and one of the items in the surveyor's report said that the electrical wiring appeared to be functional, but that I should get it checked by an electrician sooner rather than later.
I had an electrician have a look at it briefly today. Owing to a little mix-up in communications he didn't give it the thorough check I was expecting, but he'll come back soon to do that. Today, he had a quick look and told me the wiring was probably about 25 years old and identified some features which he told me were problems. Apparently my earth cable is too thin, and my gas main and water main aren't connected to the earth wiring (he told me they should be). He also had a look at a couple of power sockets, and discovered that there was no shielding on the earth cable (I could see this was true for myself, and although I'm no expert I'm pretty sure that the earth cables should have been shielded.
My guess is that he'll recommend completely rewiring when he comes back. My question is, how do I know if the house does need rewiring? Any electrician has a pretty obvious interest in telling me it does, given that I'm going to pay him several thousand quid if I do decide to rewire.
I don't mind shelling out the cash if it's necessary, but I really don't want to spend thousands of pounds and have huge amounts of disruption around the house if it's just not necessary. How do I tell?
Many thanks Adam
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What you need is a Periodic Inspection Report or PIR and I hope that is what you are getting. Some useful info here...
http://www.niceic.org.uk/consumers/pir.html
From what you say I can see where its going but after you have got your report is the time to worry, not before. Note the advice above about getting quotes and not having to use the tester to remedy any issues. Come back if you don't understand anything in the report.
Jim A
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On Wed, 26 Jul 2006 21:04:08 GMT, "Jim Alexander"

Do bear in mind though that NICEIC Group Limited (to give them their proper name) is a commercial profit making trading organisation and much of its efforts are directed towards making work for its members. Although it doesn't make it clear it is _not_ the only such body, merely the most commercially successful. Do not rely upon anything they say to be independent or unbiased.
You will note the frequent use of "Approved Contractors" and such not altogether accurate statements such as "NICEIC have assessed that the Approved Contractors electrical work complies with the national standard for electrical safety". They also misuse data - "According to Government statistics, each year on average 10 people die and about 750 are seriously injured in accidents involving unsafe electrical installations in the home". Unfortunately they fail to point out the great majority of these are due to misuse of portable appliances and extension sockets, something their "inspection" doesn't cover.
The Electrical Safety Council, a spin-off from NICEIC Ltd continues their established record of misinformation with such statements as "It will be a legal requirement for homeowners and landlords to be able to prove that all fixed electrical installations and alteration work have been carried out and certified by a competent person. That is, by an installer registered with one of the government-approved schemes." Which is, quite simply, completely wrong. They also seem to suffer from grade inflation thinking that "each year...21 fatal and 2,788 non-fatal electric shock accidents (occur) in the home".

Don't ever use the tester, or anyone they recommend to do any work. Equally, don't assume anything they say needs doing either. Their first priority is to cover their backside with paper, their second is to pull in some work. The clients interests usually come somewhere well below having a cup of tea and reading the Sun in the priority list.
--
Peter Parry.
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Peter Parry wrote:
<snip>

Whilst I respect Peter Parry and his opinions most of the time (and we're well overdue for another of your anecdotes Peter!), I think he is shooting from the hip here.
Whilst some if not a large number of sparkys wear stetsons & spurs (spurs, geddit!) as with other tradespeople there are a number out there who are honest, reliable and reasonably priced.
Also many of them don't like doing re-wires any more than the customers like paying for them. They are a lot of work.
My own tame sparky was quite happy to replace my CU and do a PIR. His view was that even if the PVC was as old as PVC can be, it looked and subsequently tested fine.
He is booked up for weeks in advance with small to medium jobs and he is happy with that.
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wrote:
|
| |> Hello everyone |> |> I've just bought a new house, and one of the items in the surveyor's |> report said that the electrical wiring appeared to be functional, but that |> I should get it checked by an electrician sooner rather than later. |> |> I had an electrician have a look at it briefly today. Owing to a little |> mix-up in communications he didn't give it the thorough check I was |> expecting, but he'll come back soon to do that. Today, he had a quick look |> and told me the wiring was probably about 25 years old and identified some |> features which he told me were problems. Apparently my earth cable is too |> thin, and my gas main and water main aren't connected to the earth wiring |> (he told me they should be). He also had a look at a couple of power |> sockets, and discovered that there was no shielding on the earth cable (I |> could see this was true for myself, and although I'm no expert I'm pretty |> sure that the earth cables should have been shielded. |> |> My guess is that he'll recommend completely rewiring when he comes back. |> My question is, how do I know if the house does need rewiring? Any |> electrician has a pretty obvious interest in telling me it does, given |> that I'm going to pay him several thousand quid if I do decide to rewire. |> |> I don't mind shelling out the cash if it's necessary, but I really don't |> want to spend thousands of pounds and have huge amounts of disruption |> around the house if it's just not necessary. How do I tell? |> | |What you need is a Periodic Inspection Report or PIR and I hope that is what |you are getting. Some useful info here... | |http://www.niceic.org.uk/consumers/pir.html

Why is a periodic inspection needed?
Every electrical installation deteriorates with use and age. It is important for the person responsible for the maintenance of the installation to be sure that the safety of users is not put at risk, and that the installation continues to be in a safe and serviceable condition.
According to Government statistics, each year on average 10 people die and about 750 are seriously injured in accidents involving unsafe electrical installations in the home.
When is a periodic inspection needed?
It is recommended that periodic inspection and testing is carried out at least every: ? 10 years for a domestic installation ? 5 years for a commercial installation ? 3 years for caravans ? 1 year for swimming pools Other instances when a periodic inspection should be carried out are: ? when a property is being prepared to be let ? prior to selling a property or when buying a previously occupied property Who should undertake a periodic inspection? Periodic inspections are best left to an NICEIC Approved Contractor. <<< | |From what you say I can see where its going but after you have got your |report is the time to worry, not before. Note the advice above about |getting quotes and not having to use the tester to remedy any issues. Come |back if you don't understand anything in the report.
Not the words "should", "recommended" and "best" So your PIR is *not* a legal requirement Niceic is a trade association obviously touting for trade on behalf of its members.
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Adam wrote:

recommendation, and an arse covering one at that.
Cable does decay, and a particular location can accelerate ageing, or contact with something like polystrene can disolve the outer sheaf. 25 years is a typical expression of its life, but this could be doubled for wiring from the 70's onwards.
The electricians checks can determine earthing problems and low insulation which would require attention.
The electrician does not have to necessarily get the rewire job. You can get a second and third opinion. His report should be accurate and would be open to claims if it is incorrect.
dg
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dg wrote:

Rather pessimistic I would suggest. See the previous thread Time Expired Cabling starting November 28th 2004.
CRB
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Unless there's been some bad influence on a piece of cable or possibly if it's been operating near its temperature limit, the very first PVC T&E cable used in installations will still be fine. What does wear out are the wiring accessories such as switches, sockets, and even CU's. Fortunately, these are much cheaper and less destructive to decorations to replace. An old installation probably won't meet current requirements in a number of aspects, but not all these pose any significant safety risk and there's no requirement to bring an installation up to current regs just for the sake of it. Getting some things done like earthing probably does make good sense though. There may also be matters of convenience such as not enough sockets for modern day usage, and this can have secondary safety repercussions, such as excessive use of adaptors and trailing extention cables.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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On 27 Jul, snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote:

With prat P coming in would a CU replacement require an update to the rest of the system or would not making it less compliant than before apply? A PIR could outline the anomolies WRT current standards. I see no immediate need to upgrade existing rings with 1mm^2 earths, that complied with 16th edition and have worked fine for 20 years with rewireable fuses, when the new MCBs will give better protection than the fuses.
--
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snipped-for-privacy@privacy.net wrote:

NO BUILDING REGULATION HAS EVER HAD RETROSPECTIVE POWERS, THERE IS NEVER ANY LEGAL REQUIREMENT TO *MERELY* UPGRADE OLD SHIT TO NEW SHIT.
I.e. if its in there and working, the fact that it does not conform to modern practice is no business of anyones but the owner, and possibly the insurance company, or in extreme cases the govt department in charge of actually CONDEMNING properties as not fit for habitation.
This fact is NEVER mentioned by ANY of the people who make money out of teeth sucking reports recommending you spend tons of money upgrading perfectly satisfactory things to meet some bureaucrats jobs-for-the-boyz newer specification.
Building regulations apply ONLY to new work. Otherwise every single house in the country more than 30 years old would need urgent underpinning, a complete rewire and replumb, rebuilding of its walls and floors and ceilings with insulation everywhere, all steps up to the front door or down to a basement replaced with ramps, not to mention moving ALL the light switches and sockets, and replacing all the windows with double glazing and about 30% of the staircases with the correct sized ones..and so on and so on.
In short, to apply building regulations retrospectively would condemn something like 50% of existing housing as beyond economic repair.
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Adam wrote:

If this is the main earth bonding too thin or missing, that would be normal for a 1970s installation (and usually can easily be remedied without a full rewire).

Sleeved, not shielded. Again, lack of sleeving is normal for an installation of that age.
A more serious concern would be the lack of any earthing at lighting points, which would again be normal for an installation of that age, and is not easily remedied without a rewire.

While the foregoing is clear evidence the wiring does not comply with current standards it does not tell you whether rewiring is required or whether the wiring is safe or not. The original wiring may be in fairly good order but if it has been extended and bodged it may be unsafe and inadequate.
"Too thin" an earth cable suggests you may be using TT (earth rod) earthing and this does now require RCD protection on all circuits. A 1970s installation might have an obsolete voltage-operated Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB). Any whole-house RCD should be considered non-compliant and, along with rewireable fuses, would strongly suggest at least a consumer unit replacement.
Power circuits are likely to be inadequate for the loading of appliances and number of sockets expected today, particularly in the kitchen, which would point to at least a partial rewire.
Owain
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And hardly difficult to correct. Particularly if you're giving the place a facelift by replacing tatty old sockets with modern ones.
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Skipweasel
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If it is 25 years old, and metric PVC cabling, that cable should still be fit for further service and for some considerable time - assuming no rodent damage, etc. The lack of sleeving on the socket earths is easily fixed as is the correct bonding of the services.
What I would check for is earth continuity on the lighting circuit. A *working* earth should be available at every fitting and switch. This wasn't required some years ago. However, mine is more than 25 years old but has a the correct lighting earths.
The other thing is the size of the earth conductor changed in TW&E - later is thicker. However, the earlier size is still ok for most domestic installations - and can be checked to be ok with suitable test equipment which a good electrician will have.
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Adam formulated on Wednesday :

Make it clear from the outset that any remedial work will NOT be given to the person writing the report.
No earth 'screen' (sleeving) would mean the installation is probably pre 1975-ish. This in itself does not mean it needs to be rewired, only that it is obviously not up to current standard. However, it probably means it will also be inadequate for modern needs.
--

Regards,
Harry (M1BYT) (L)
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Adam wrote:

surveys always say this, its an arse covering exercise. It means nothing.

None of these indicate anything other than a medium aged system in good condition.

ask us about the specifics he finds.

So far youve given us no reason to think anything's necessary. A 1981 install would normally be fine, unless some dodgy extension has been added by a cowboy. Often at that age they could do with a few more sockets, but theyre easily added if needed.
Check he notes which type of earth system you have, as this has some relevance to the lack of services bonding.
NT
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snipped

Beg to differ, having done a periodic today on a 1987 built house. House was looking really good and would have gained a satisfactory report, but, whoever wired it up originally did not install the supplementary bonding in the bathroom, which goes down as a category 1 failure and then causes the property to be unsatisfactory. This was on top of the usual add-ons which we repaired as we carried out the inspection at the request of the customer.
We do lots of periodic inspections, both commercial and domestic and pride ourselves on being impartial. Yes, it would be nice to gain the remedial work from it but this does not always happen. As a matter of fact we are used by one of our customers to quality control thier own site electricians.
You can use any one to carry out a periodic, but only the two bigger organisations, to my knowledge, give access to inspection of demands if you have a potentional dispute with the contractor.
For those of you that are interested the two organisations are the Electrical Contractors Association (www.eca.co.uk) and the NICEIC (www.niceic.org.uk).
Another point of note is that a PIR is out of the scope of Part P as this is an 'installers scheme' only. They 'may' not be competent as inspection and test work. As I said, if you use an ECA Registered Contractor or an NICEIC Approved Contractor you have some form of recourse if you are not convinced.
I will stick my neck out now and use my business sig. We are proud to be Registered and Approved by several organisations and we try to do our best for our clients.
Regards
Stephen Dawson Director Fox Electrical Services Ltd 34 Portchester Rd Portsmouth PO2 7JB Tel 02392 615142 Fax 02392 661931 www.foxelectrical.co.uk
NICEIC Approved Contractor ECA Registered Member NICEIC Domestic Installer BRE/ECA Part 'P' registered installer Trustmark Scheme Approved
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On Thu, 27 Jul 2006 17:48:10 GMT, "Stephen Dawson"

Wow.
I'm sure it does. How many people have been killed or injured by inadequate supplementary bonding in the last decade?

Could we have this in a recognizable language please?

What recourse? On their own figures NICEIC pay out in about 4% of unsatisfactory cases reported to them

I'm sure you are.

Which has nothing to do with the several thousand pounds your clients have to pay for you to be registered with assorted trade bodies.
There are good tradesmen and bad tradesmen. Paying to belong to a trade organisation and paying for some alphabet soup to put after the trading name is not a differentiator between them.
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From discussion in the past, one might even wonder about the reverse...
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wrote:

The ECA scheme that we are in give a warranty of 6 years of the work we carry out, I don't think I get a six year warranty from orange, altough a I pay them several thousand pounds a year to use thier services. Perhaps you should look at your own corner for poor service, excessive charges and the like.
Had you not thought the 4% thast the NICEIC pay out on are the only 4% that are justified ? Maybe people do not use the service that is availible to them, they just get on a website or newsgroup banging on about paying several thousand pounds to be a member or an approved contractor.
Do you have an annual assessment to check that you are working correct, that your tets equipment is manintained and fit for purpose?
You do not just pay your money and then get accepted, you are vetted by technical officers that your knowledge is up to date, that you have the correct technicl manuals, not just the OSG that you all seem to love, and is a good reference book.
Taken from the ECA website The cover of the ECA Warranty is provided at no additional cost to clients of ECA registered members. Subject to the terms and conditions of the scheme the insurance backed ECA Warranty guarantees to clients of ECA members that electrical installation work failing to comply with the Relevant Standards as defined in the Warranty will be rectified. The Warranty Period is 6 years from the completion date of the work. Warranty claims must be notified during this period if they are to be valid.
It is important to note that the ECA Warranty will not be valid unless both the member and the party with whom the member is in contract sign a copy of the member's relevant Warranty Certificate. The completed Warranty Certificate is to be retained by the party with whom the member is in Contract and will be required to evidence a claim against the ECA Warranty.
The NICEIC do not offer a warranty scheme, but is more widely recognised by the general public.
If you are not happy with the quality of the work by a registered or approved member then complain, it is what the ECA and NICEIC are there for. If you don't coplian about poor workmanship then how can they deal with it?
And to answer your question on the bathroom bonding, I don;t know, but how many have been saved by it being correctly fitted in the event of a fault, we'll never now.
Regards
Stephen Dawson
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On Thu, 27 Jul 2006 23:18:31 GMT, "Stephen Dawson"

A total of just 5 cases in the UK in one year? Undoubtedly they are the only one who were able to justify their claims, whether they were the only justifiable ones is another matter.

The problem with bodies such as NICEIC and ECA is that they only exist if they can recruit members. If they make their testing and vetting too good people don't join them. They are therefore always aiming at the lowest common standard. How many individuals or companies are removed from any of these organisations each year for failing inspections?

Which simply means the cost is factored in to the fees, the client still pays for it.

So without adequate knowledge of the consequences of the omission you recorded it as "Code 1 indicates a dangerous, or potentially dangerous, condition that requires urgent attention to make the installation safe.", the same class as bare live wires dangling from a wall?
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Peter Parry.
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