Electricity is usually out of sight, out of mind because cables are hidden inside our walls, switches and sockets. So it’s not surprising that we forget to check our electrical installations for wear and tear. Faulty and aging wiring is one of the major causes of electrical fires in the home. You can avoid these by having regular checks carried out on the condition of your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories. There are clear signs that can help you tell the age of electrical installation in your home.
Cables coated in black rubber (phased out in the 1960s)
Cables coated in lead or fabric (before the1960s)
A fusebox with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard mixture of fuse boxes (before the 1960s)
Older round pin sockets and round light switches, braided flex hanging from ceiling roses, brown and black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards (before the 1960s)
Wall-mounted light switches in bathrooms (before the 1960s)
improves our daily lives - but only when used safely. Don’t create hazards
by overloading sockets, and never ignore warning signs like burning smells,
sounds of arcing (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing or circuit-breakers
tripping. Electrical accidents are most likely to happen when equipment is
damaged or misused. Failure to correct the problem could have devastating
effects. This sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how many
of us fail to follow basic safety guidelines.
When did you last check the condition and safety of your plugs, sockets and flexible cables?
Damaged plugs, sockets and flexible cables can cause electric shocks, burns and fires.
For you and your family’s safety:
Check the plug and socket for burn marks, sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing, circuit-breakers tripping or if it feels hot.
Remove plugs from sockets carefully. Pulling out a plug by the cable puts a strain on it, and could damage the contact between the plug and the socket. This could result in the plug overheating, its wires becoming loose or an electric shock (if the earth wire is disconnected).
Use plugs with the British Standard safety mark - they have live and neutral pins with insulating sleeves that allow you to put them in and pull them out of sockets safely.
Always replace damaged cables immediately. Touching exposed live wires may give you an electric shock or you could even be killed.