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Advise and tips

Avoid false Economy

Nowadays, with mobile phone chargers, PCs, extra televisions, and radio alarms, the need for power points has increased. Consider your expansion needs realistically - with the number of electronic devices typically used today, additional outlets are often required. It is easy and inexpensive to add outlets at the time of a renovation

A desirable number and distribution of double outlets in a modern home is as follows  

Kitchen 6
Living room 6
Dining room 4
Hall 1
:Landing 1
Utility room 2

Similarly, don't restrict your use of lighting unnecessarily. Used sensibly, lights consume relatively little power, so it isn't worth risking accidents - for example, on badly lit stair and corridors. Nor need you strain your eyes in the glare from single light hanging from the ceiling, when extra lighting could provide comfortable and attractive background illumination.

Design and plan the electricity

Doing all the electricity work in one go is by far the most efficient and cheap way of renovating the electrical installation. When planning house improvements, think of the electrical installation as well as decorating and furnishing

  • Guidelines are four power points per bedroom, and six power points in the living rooms and kitchen
  • Mark up a plan, mark the positions on the walls of the house, imagining as you do, the furniture layout
  • Review your specifications with the electrician and discuss any necessary items you may have missed. For example, will you require an additional or upgraded power connection to support your renovation?
  • Only use a fully qualified electrician
  • Think about shaver points, TV aerial points, telephone and computer modem points
  • Donít forget lights in cupboards and in the loft
  • Be creative with your lighting. Lights can change the mood of a house at the flick of a switch
  • Donít forget outside and security lighting
  • Always keep a copy of your electrical completion certificate safely with your other house documents
  • Circuits should be clearly marked on the consumer unit.

How to check a plug

All modern appliances in the UK use the familiar square pin plug. These plugs are used for lights, hand held appliances such as hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, and larger appliances like dishwashers.

The plug and the cable can suffer damage, particularly where they connect to portable appliances. Checking a plug and its cable does not require detailed electrical knowledge and these tips will help.

Check the cable from end to end and ask the following questions:

  1. Check the plug:

    Remove it from the socket-outlet and check the plug is not physically damaged.

  2. Look for signs of overheating such as discolouration.
  3. Check the plug conforms to British Standard BS 1363 - it should be stamped on the back of the plug.
  4. Check the plug is securely attached to the cable. Some appliances are sold with a non-rewireable moulded plug. You will not be able to open this plug, but you can still check whether the plug is damaged and whether it has the correctly rated BS 1362 fuse. If the plug is damaged and you are not certain you can replace it, contact an NICEIC Approved Contractor.
  5. Check the cable is connected according to the correct wiring code:

    Brown to live (L)
    Blue to neutral (N)
    Green-and-yellow to earth (E)
  6. Check that the cord grip holds the cable securely and that both of the screws are tight
  7. Check that the screws holding the three conductors are tight.

  8. Check that the fuse conforms to BS 1362 and is of the correct rating - refer to the manufacturer's instructions. The fuse should clip securely into its holder. It should not be loose and there should be no signs of overheating

  9. Replace the cover and securely tighten the screw

Is part of your electrical system not working ?

Have the ceiling lights gone out? Are some of the socket-outlets or appliances not working

Ceiling lights not working

Try to establish if it is just a bulb that has blown or whether it is a problem with the circuit. If it is a blown bulb, simply replace it after switching the light off. If it is the circuit, the ceiling lights in one or more rooms will not be working - most houses have two lighting circuits, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Once you have established that the circuit is at fault, check your fusebox (consumer unit).

Open the cover and check whether one of the circuit-breakers has tripped. If it has, switch it back on and the lights should now work. Note that modern circuit-breakers are sensitive devices and a bulb blowing can result in the circuit-breaker for that circuit tripping.

Socket outlets not working

Establish that it is definitely the socket-outlet not working by plugging in a different appliance. Try other socket-outlets to establish if the problem is with one or, as will probably be the case, several socket-outlets

Once again, check the consumer unit. This time it will be necessary to check the circuit-breaker for the particular socket-outlet circuit and the residual current device (RCD) that will probably have been installed to provide additional protection for socket-outlet circuits.

The circuit-breaker and/or the RCD may have tripped due to a faulty appliance being plugged into a socket-outlet. It will not be possible to reset either or both of the devices until the faulty item has been disconnected from the circuit. If you are unsure which appliance on the circuit is causing the problem, unplug all appliances, reset the circuit-breaker and/or RCD and then plug the appliances back in one by one until the faulty item which trips the circuit is found


Burglar Alarms

Many burglars will avoid breaking into a property with an alarm.

There are many alarm systems on the market. These range from fairly cheap alarms, which you can fit yourself, to more sophisticated systems, costing hundreds of pounds, which need to be installed by professionals. Low-cost alarms are less reliable and can, through false alarms, be a nuisance to both you and your neighbours.

Consider whether you need an audible-only alarm (which sets off a siren or bell) or a monitored alarm (connected to a central 'listening' service). Due to the huge number of false alarms, police will only respond to audible alarms if there is confirmation of suspicious activity - such as a neighbour saying they saw someone or heard glass being broken.

For monitored systems, the monitoring company will check whether any alarm was false - for example, set off by the homeowners entering the wrong access code - and call out the police if necessary. Monitored systems are particularly important for isolated properties.

Get professional help to install the alarm and to explain how to operate it correctly to make sure that it will work properly.

Remember, an alarm which is not fitted properly can create problems in itself. Donít fit an alarm yourself unless you have the electrical knowledge and practical skills to do so, it could end up costing you more.

Outside Lighting

Good lighting can put off or draw attention to a thief.

The most appropriate form of lighting to use is high-efficiency low-energy lighting, controlled by a dusk-to-dawn switch so that it comes on only when itís dark. This provides a constant and uniform level of light. It costs very little to run and helps to create a more reassuring environment.

Lights that come on if they sense movement can be annoying to neighbours and dangerous to passing traffic. If you have these, make sure they are directed downwards.

Fit lights out of easy reach - at a height of at least 2.5 metres (eight feet).

Dusk-to-dawn light Movement-activated light
Derek wiring a fuse board  
 Paul wiring air conditioning