DIY electrical work to your Sockets
An often completed DIY electrical job is DIY electrical work to sockets. Socket circuits do not usually suffer from the issue of no “earth” as older lighting circuits, however we have come across occasions where there have actually being faults, either with the “earth” or else the neutral/ring circuit. Whilst these are impossible to detect with the naked eye, a simple check with a multifunction tester would identify a problem. These types of testers are often £500+ and will require quite a bit of experience to be able to test and interpret.
If you do swap the socket, be aware that you will need to ensure the polarity is correct (right cable in right terminal) and that the cables are securely fastened into the terminals with no bare (uninsulated) copper showing outside of the terminal.
One mistake we have seen with DIY electrical to sockets in Wakefield is either terminating the cables poorly, so that they pop out when screwing the socket back. If the live pops out this can touch the other terminals and cause a serious fault. This can cause a loud bang and trip the circuit breaker or fuse. If you are unlucky then you may not trip the fuse and this would potentially create a situation where the ring circuit is not continuous leading to potential overload of your socket circuit.
Another mistake easily carried out is snagging the cables with the screws when tightening the faceplate back. This is another thing that is almost impossible to tell on a DIY basis without expensive test equipment and the knowledge to use it. Potentially this can cause the ‘big bang’ scenario where it will blow your fuse/circuit breaker or possibly RCD depending on what sort of consumer unit you have fitted.
Cables coming loose at the rear of the socket can cause large problems & go relatively un-noticed in the case of the “earth”. This could quite easily come loose but all your equipment would still work fine, your TV, lamp, even possibly something like your lawnmower (more on this below) which you wouldn’t notice until a potentially disasterous fault. Again, when completing DIY electrical work to sockets, this is not something you could tell without expensive test equipment. These low cost ‘plug-in’ testers can miss potentially dangerous issues which mislead you into thinking it is safe.
Now here is where incorrect work can be deadly. Contact with electricity whilst stood outside on what we deem “true earth” will cause a very serious shock. An old style fuse board with no RCD is very unlikely to disconnect the supply and could provide an easily fatal shock.
To be fair the risk applies even if you are just fitting a new socket in the property. If the circuit does not have RCD protection (as per BS7671, the regulations) and is used with an extension lead, these same risks apply. Regulations often get ignored when completing DIY electrical work to sockets and that can cause injury or worse!
Another risk encountered outside is potential water ingress into cables/enclosures. Simply blathering the joint with silicone is not compliant and will not keep the water out for long. Cables need to be installed with correct IP rated glands to maintain the waterproof rating of boxes.
One more factor is mechanical protection of cables. Do you need to use armoured cable? Twin & earth (grey domestic cable) is NOT suitable for installing externally as the sheathing suffers in bad weather and goes brittle. This is commonly overlooked with DIY electrical work, as is the correct termination of armoured cable.
I hope this has given you some insight into the things that you may take for granted when completing DIY electrical work, but a qualified & registered electrician would check without a second thought.
If you need any advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch