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Changing a plug socket, it sounds easy enough, but when it comes to DIY electrical installations, there is much to consider. If you have recently renovated your home and would like to change a socket to suit your new décor, here are some top tips to help you do it safely while remaining compliant with local building and electrical regulations.
DIY Electrical Installations: What You Need to Know
When you consider how much an electrician costs in London, it is easy to understand why many homeowners decide to undertake simple jobs, such as replacing an old plug socket, themselves. With the right tools and the relevant know-how, it is easy to change a light socket at home, but all electrical installations are subject to regulations in the UK, and if your DIY jobs do not comply with Part P of the Building Regulations and IEE Wiring Regulations, you could void your home insurance.
If you have any doubts about your ability to change a socket safely, you should contact a registered electrician in London for advice. If you decide to go ahead, here’s what you need to know:
Changing An Electrical Socket: Safety First
Before undertaking any type of electrical work, you should implement the following safety precautions:
- Let everyone at home know you are working on the socket.
- Switch off the main power supply at the fuse box, identify the circuit you will be working on, and remove the fuse.
- Use a socket tester or voltage meter to check that the socket you intend to work on is no longer live. If you don’t have a voltage tester, plug in a lamp or other electrical appliance to make sure the circuit is dead.
When you are satisfied that all safety measures are in place, you can begin with your installation.
How To Change or Replace A Wall Socket
The first step in changing a power socket is to remove it from the wall using a screwdriver to remove the retaining screws. There should be enough slack in the electrical wires to pull the socket from the wall and access the back section. Most modern plug sockets in the UK are fitted with three coloured wires:
- Brown for Live (L)
- Blue for Neutral (N)
- Yellow & Green Striped for Earth (E)
In older buildings, the live wire could be red, and the neutral wire could be black, and some sockets may only have two wires, so check carefully before you proceed.
Step By Step
Now you know exactly what goes where you can change a socket by following these simple steps:
- Free the wires connected to the original socket by releasing the terminal screws.
- If any of the wires are frayed, trim them with an electrical wire stripper, leaving around 5mm of wire clear for installation.
- Check the wire terminals on the new socket, bearing in mind that they may be positioned differently to the old socket, to identify the Live, Neutral, and Earth terminal.
- First connect and secure the Live wire, followed by the Neutral and Earth wires.
- Make sure all wires are secured in the terminals with no bare wires showing.
- Carefully, without pulling or releasing any of the wires, secure the socket faceplate against the wall, making sure all wires are tucked safely inside.
- Once you are happy that everything is in order, secure the socket faceplate to the wall with the retaining screws. It’s a good idea to use a spirit level here to avoid wonky sockets.
- Replace the fuse in the fuse box and turn on the electricity supply.
- Use a voltage tester to check if the socket is live.
- Plug in an electrical appliance and switch it on.
If everything has gone to plan, your new socket should work perfectly.
How To Change a Damaged Wall Socket
While you can replace a damaged socket much the same as you would an un-damaged socket, you should take extra care when dealing with this type of electrical installation. A damaged socket can be a serious fire risk, and so you must identify the cause of the damage so that you can avoid it happening again.
The most common causes of electrical socket damage are overloading, overheating, and loose wire connections. If your socket is scorched or blackened in any way, you should stop using it and replace it straight away.
Check the wires carefully, before installing the new socket, and if you see any signs of damage, call your local electrician for advice. If you are happy to proceed with changing the damaged plug socket, do so with caution, and test it thoroughly before leaving any electrical appliances left plugged in unattended.