I live in a flat with an old type circuit breaker connected to an O Ring
(i.e., not one of those new 'consumer unit', which allows you to switch
on/off on a room by room basis, just one on/off switch to switch on/off for
the whole flat).
Anyway, in one of the bedroom, where there are two electrical sockets + a
switch for the lights, one of the electrical socket has stopped working
(i.e., a lamp which turns on and lightens up when plugged into another
socket and turned on does not lighten up when I do the same thing with this
Given this situation, do I just need to replace the socket or how likely is
it that there might be something wrong with the circuit (without buying more
equipments/meters, etc. to do more tests)?
Highly likely to be a broken socket or loose screw in the back or just maybe a
Turn off your mains switch, remove the two screws on the sokect and ease from
the wall. Broken wire should be obvious as will the locations of three screws
one for each wire which you should tighten.
with the socket dangling, plug in the lamp again switch it on and then turn on
the mains. If the lamp still does not work then a new socket is alikely cure.
Turn off the power again and either fit a new socket(few quid from DIY or
hardware store) or if you want to be really sure with out spending any cash,
still with the power OFF, swap the socket with another in the flat, noting which
wire goes where. there could be upto three wires of the same colour connecting
to each terminal at the back of the socket.
When you have made all connections again, try the lamp test again with both
sockets. If the fault has moved to the other location then it's a dead socket,
if the swapped socket in the original faulty location is dead then you have a
Time to call a personally recommended electrician or competant diy friend for
Or get a socket tester (available from most DIY stores) and try that first.
That should narrow down the fault for you, and give you a better idea of
what you're looking for when you take the socket off the wall. And do
remember to turn the mains off before undoing the socket!
Wall won't have to be knocked down, but may need a channel cutting in
the plaster to get replacement lengths of cable in. Depends on type of
construction and how the wiring was put in. If it is a hollow
partition wall, it may be possible to thread the cable through without
too much mess, similarly if the wiring was put in in conduit (pipe).
There may also be other disruption required though to gain access to
wiring runs under the floor/ceiling.
Check the socket first before fearing the worst though, they do go
wrong, often the switch contacts.
Firstly, take off the power and look at the connections inside the
socket. The most common fault is simply that one is loose. Tighten,
re-assemble, return power, have a cuppa.
(Note: DO buy a neon electricians screwdriver and DO test the
live/neutral before continuing. Flats in particular sometimes have
really messed up wiring, and one socket being fed from another flat's
supply is not unknown. NEVER assume the power is off just because
you've flicked a switch.)
If, however, it still doesn't work after having done that, by all
means replace the socket (internal failure is rare, but does happen).
If it still doesn't work, only then start worrying about the wiring.
Simon Avery, Dartmoor, UK
uk.d-i-y FAQ: http://www.diyfaq.org.uk /
Not very likely. You may be describing a main on/off switch but there will
still be fuses to disable/protect certain circuits. The fuses may be hidden
from sight if it is an old fuse box, usually the old grey MEM boxes or the
yellow telecom boxes.
No. I mean the MEM boxes that look like something from a Frankenstein film.
There are still fuses inside but they are a pig to change. I think the OP is
a little confused as I cannot decide what the O ring is that he mentioned
| "Owain" wrote
| > | from sight if it is an old fuse box, usually the old grey MEM boxes
| > | or the yellow telecom boxes.
| > I hope you mean ivory Wylex boxes :-)
| No. I mean the MEM boxes that look like something from a Frankenstein
It was the 'yellow telecom' boxes I was querying.
They do exist. There is one council estate near me (called Intake) where all
the fuse boxes are bright yellow, and I am certain they are made by BT or
whatever they used to be called in the 50's/60's. There are usually 3 metal
boxes, one contains the supply fuse, the next contains an isolator switch
and the third contains the fuses which you can only access after unscrewing
the metal cover. All the boxes are bolted together. Horrible things and the
next time I work on one I will take a photo, post it on the web and try find
out if they are unique to this estate. I have never seen them anywhere else.
| > It was the 'yellow telecom' boxes I was querying.
| They do exist. There is one council estate near me (called Intake) where
| the fuse boxes are bright yellow, and I am certain they are made by BT or
| whatever they used to be called in the 50's/60's.
Post Office Telephones ?
| There are usually 3 metal boxes, one contains the supply fuse, the next
| contains an isolator switch and the third contains the fuses which you can
| only access after unscrewing the metal cover. All the boxes are bolted
| together. Horrible things and the next time I work on one I will take a
| photo, post it on the web and try find out if they are unique to this
| estate. I have never seen them anywhere else.
Please do. If it is fairly immediately post-war I might be able to identify
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