Rewiring Historic Homes: Basic Checks and Signs of Bad Workmanship


Who wouldn’t love those beautiful houses of the past? Old homes have a different kind of charm and beauty, even its own personality that no other homes can equal. Though today’s real estate world is filled with new homes, there some purists who know that historic homes are a lot more valuable than the brand new ones in the market.

Heritage homes, however beautiful they may look, pose a heightened electrical risk. The wiring system used is, of course, already old and run down so it is a must to find an expert that can turn the dangerous situation around.

Historic houses are not for everyone but if you are adamant in investing, then you might as well learn what you need to do in terms of electrical safety.

Basic Checks for Old Homes

If you are considering a house or have already moved into one, then learn a few basic checks that need to be done –

  • Find obvious damages on switches, sockets and lights.
  • Search for any sockets that are overheating when used.
  • If there are but one or two sockets in a room, then this is the clearest indication that you have one of the oldest wiring systems in existence. It is time to get in touch with a licensed electrician right away.
  • If you have to use extensions or outlet adaptors, then have an electrician alter them.
  • If the sockets still have the round pin type, then your home’s wiring system is definitely old.
  • Round switches for the lights and braided flex, black sockets and switches that are mounted on skirting boards should be replaced immediately.
  • Do not be fooled by a fuse box that seems to look new. There are some that just alter the fuse box but the rest of the installations are still old. If this is the case in your home, then better find an electrician to help you rewire soon.
  • Call an electrician if the house still has rewirable fuses.
  • A wooden-backed fuse box or switches made of cast iron date all the way back to the ‘60s so they need to be replaced ASAP.

Signs of Bad Workmanship

Old switches and fuse boxes are not your only concerns when it comes to electrical safety in your not-so-new-home. Signs of bad workmanship must also be checked. Call an electrician if you see any of these –

  • Plugs and switches have live parts that are exposed.
  • Cables that protrude on the plaster. This means that the chases were not cut deeply enough so this is a glaring sign of haphazard work.
  • Fuse boxes with holes
  • Accessories with exposed cable sheaths
  • Floorboards that have been split or smashed
  • If you are in a zone where there are supposed to be cables installed and you do not find them there, then you should ask for an electrician’s help.
  • Diagonally-installed cables instead of the prescribed vertical or horizontal installations
  • A fuse box with no labels
  • Down lighter that were not installed with fire hoods
  • When additional sockets have been installed but there were no additional RCDs or residual current device.
  • If there are electrical parts or accessories that have been installed near moisture-prone areas such as the bathroom or swimming pool area.
  • Incorrect electrical devices were fitted.
  • Connector blocks that have been used but were not correctly enclosed, thus, live parts are inevitably exposed.

How bad should an electrical system be before you ask for a replacement? Now this is a tough question to answer but, generally, where old components are seen, you must speak to an electrician right away. Also, be sure to have regular inspections done after the wiring system has been corrected.

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