Fitting New Electrical Switches and Sockets

The switches and sockets in your home serve to light up your home and supply electricity to any electrical appliances you plug into them but nowadays they also form part of the interior aesthetics of your home. Today you get buy switches and sockets with in a range of attractive finishes such as chrome, brushed aluminium and many more colourful variations.

When fitting new electrical sockets and switches it’s important to ensure the proper earth connections on the sockets and switches themselves are installed properly. If you have the older plastic fittings there will likely not be an earth connection directly to fitting because the existing fitting is not conductive, if you swap out your old plastic fittings for new metal ones you’ll need to ensure they are properly earthed.

Another factor that can be confusing is the colour of the wiring, the instruction leaflet with show where to fit the live, neutral and earth fittings but often with older wiring the colours don’t match, indeed sometimes black cable has a dual use on older wiring systems which adds to the confusion. Often there are more issues when upgrading older fittings to new ones and how easy the overall process of upgrading your fittings will also depend on whether the wiring itself has been upgraded in the past.

You have have purchased a the home and are looking to upgrade the fittings, one quick way of finding out pretty quickly if the job will be alot more involved than it should is looking at the consumer unit, also know as the fuse board or fusebox. If it has the old fuse wire fittings you are realistically looking at upgrading the old fusebox to a modern consumer unit with RCD protection which offers infinitely greater safety than a fusebox using fuse wire. Indeed if the property still uses the old fuse wire unit you’d need to get the wiring checked out. Wiring last years but it does have a useful life expectancy and once it reaches that the cable becomes brittle simply due to the heat of the current that’s been going through it all those years and eventually it needs replaced. When upgrading a consumer unit we will check the wiring before fitting the new unit to ensure there will be no issues.

If you intend swapping the fittings yourself ALWAYS ensure the circuit is off at the consumer unit, if in doubt switch off the main power at the consumer unit but always check the power is off by switching on the light (and it should not light up) or plug in an electrical appliance into a socket you intend changing, again making sure it does not switch on or the circuit is still live.

You can’t be too careful with electricity so double checking everything is a must Once you are satisfied the circuit is off for the switch or socket you want to change, unscrew it from it’s fitting, being doubly sure it’s safe you could get a test meter or test lamp, which will light up if the power is still going to the fitting. Once you have removed the socket plate from the back fitting use your smartphone to take a photo of the wiring as it is, before you start removing the wiring from the fitting. It’s also a good idea to look at the new fitting and compare it to the old one, does it like like a straight swap with the wiring, do the instructions explain what each wire does and where it goes ?

Once you have fitted your new fitting always use a small spirit level, 3 inches or so and ensure you are tightening up the fitting so it is perfectly level !

If in any doubt or if you’d prefer an qualified electrician to fit your new electrical fittings please don’t hesitate to call us on 01224 798950


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