DIY home electrics
I’m fortunate enough to live in a pleasant market town which generally has a low crime rate. Unfortunately, recent months have seen a significant increase in the number of burglaries and, with Thames Valley Police seemingly mystified as to who the culprits are (other than suspecting that they are coming in “across the border from Northamptonshire”!), I started to look into ways to increase the security of our home.
Of course, if someone wants to get into your house they will find a way but the advice we’ve been given can be paraphrased as “make sure your house is less attractive than the alternative” and, although I already have several security measures in place, an extra security light (with PIR) on the front drive was an inexpensive modification (and also quite handy when arriving home in the dark).
In the UK, regulations have brought electrical work under the control of the local authority Building Regulations but that doesn’t outlaw DIY electrical work entirely. All it means is that the works need to be carried out to a particular standard, as well as distinguishing between major (notifiable) and minor works. As my household electrics were professionally upgraded a few years ago (including extensive re-wiring for most of the ground floor and a new consumer unit), I know that they are in good shape and felt reasonably confident in my abilities to run a fused spur in our garage from the existing ring main (many projects would be “notifiable” – this is not).
It took me a few hours, and the hardest part was getting cable clips to attach to the blockwork/mortar that makes up the interior walls of our garage but I got there in the end. For a description of the electrical changes, there’s some good advice on the ‘net, like the description of the project at lets-do-diy.com. Unfortunately, there’s also a fair bit of scaremongering out there – this post on the IET forums is a great example, with one user asking if the person asking the question is qualified, highlighting that a circuit could be overloaded and others saying that any circuit can be overloaded, but that’s the point of adding a fuse where the rating of the cable changes! Others point out that there are also degrees of experience and that qualification has very little to do with competence. From my perspective it’s good to see that electricians are no different to us IT bods – still dealing with the fallout from bodged DIY jobs and squabbling over the value of certifications over experience!