Full rewire necessary?

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    Full rewire necessary?

    Hi guys,

    I'm not sure if someone knows (or if I give enough info) but I've got a property with a fairly old fusebox (one of those where the fuses come as strings of metal which you wind around plastic plugs) -- and lo and behold, one of them has now started to become very warm and has smoldered a little bit. However, all outlets (switches, sockets etc) are fairly new, and the cabling behind them is also fairly new, which leads me to believe they have been replaced but the fusebox kept original. Problem is, there are no certificates about those works.

    So I got an electrician in and he suggested a complete rewire, at a cost of £2k (incl. new ring mains and new lighting circuits and replacement of all outlets etc) - without any remedial works of back-filling cabling chases or holes in the walls.

    Now, I am wondering whether this is slightly over the top?

    I was hoping that we could first limit the works to replacing the fuse board with a new one, and then maybe see if there is still an over-current somewhere, and then maybe replace that one circuit, rather than having to do all power and lighting circuits in one go?

    But I am not an electrician so don't know if this is an acceptable approach, and obviously I don't want to find myself in hot waters?

    What do you think?



    Replacement consumer unit (the box) was about £500 last time I had one done.

    Sounds like the lecky you are using is trying it on - rewire is much more attractive than C U change!

    Get another one to come and do an earth leakage test and offer advice. In fact you may be able to get your electric company to come and do it for a small fee.

    I am not an electrician either but have watched and listened carefully over the years.

    Freedom at the point of zero............


      As long as your wiring is pvc sheathed you should not need a rewire.

      Like interlaken says, a new consumer unit is probably all that is required. This is notifiable to building control, and so you will need an electrician who is a member of a part p scheme. Be aware any electrician replacing said box will probably wish to conduct an EICR(condition report formerly known as a PIR) to ensure all circuits are safe.

      £500 sounds a wee bit steep to me, but depends where you are based I suppose. If any circuit rectification work is required then obviously this will cost extra.


        Got my consumer unit changed 2 years ago, which indeed included a full test of all the circuits and RCDs afterwards, and I got all the certificates.
        It came at £200 plus cost of consumer unit (£60) [in the South East].


          Just checked my invoices in a panic thinking I'd been ripped off - I got 2 done for £500 (a couple of miles apart).

          Freedom at the point of zero............



            I'm in South East and I had consumer unit change and all electrics tested etc about 12 months ago at a cost of £300. The chaps also ran a length of earthing cable from an outside meter and put earthing clamps on the boiler (all inc in the price).


              You guys are fantastic! This is exactly what I was thinking...! The wiring is all PVC coated as I replaced some broken sockets myself.

              I will get back to him and ask why he didn't just suggest to replace the CU and check the circuits - and if he can't come up with a very plausible reason why he didn't suggest this to begin with then I think we'll have some words

              Cheers again and take care,



                But would you really want to employ someone who's already proved himself untrustworthy?

                Find someone else Matt.


                  I agree wholeheartedly with JK0. Don't even give him the satisfaction of feeding you more b.s.


                    Well, everybody has a second chance. And after all, there may be a valid reason for his full rewire quote. I will find out and let you all know for sure


                      In the spark's defence.....

                      The problem with changing an ancient consumer unit for a new one with an RCD is that invariably the old wiring is not up to it, so when the new one is connected up the RCD trips due to earth leakage (which may be present and imperceptible with the old fusebox. The sparks then needs to track down the fault(s) which may be a very open-ended task (could be impossible to fix with really bad wiring) and therefore hard to quote for.

                      Very old wiring (eg crumbly rubber-insulated stuff) is likely to be unsafe to work on and any decent electrician should actually refuse to replace a CU on that without rewiring.

                      Seems very odd that in the OP's case the whole property has genuinely been rewired but without changing the CU - who would do that? I do wonder whether actually the main wiring in the house is still very old, but someone has either extended it or cosmetically altered (bodged) it to make it look like it's been rewired recently (eg just short lengths of new cable running from sockets connecting to the old stuff under the floor.)

                      For all these reasons, maybe the guy is basically saying, "I'll do it, but only on the basis of rewiring everything; and if you don't like that, go elsewhere".

                      I'd suggest being absolutely sure that the whole house has definitely been rewired relatively recently (pull up some floorboards, look above the ceiling etc); and if so, get it tested as per post #2


                        I use a good website called DIYnot which has some superb tradesman that wall give excellent guidance on what you may or may not need.


                          What's the betting the electrician cites the old chestnut about the light switches not being earthed?



                            The OP has already stated that there is PVC sheathed cable in place. It is quite common for PVC wiring and old style fuse boxes to be in place as these boxes were used into the 80s. You are exaggerating the possible problems. Many consumer units are changed with the wiring not requiring any change. As per the'best practice guide to changing a consumer unit' the spark should carry out tests beforehand to see if there will be any likely problems, and also recommend a full EICR on completion. Some rectification works msy be required but very unlikely a full rewire.

                            A more likely problem is that the earth bonding will not be up to scratch, and depending on where the consumer unit sits within the house this might necessitate some floorboard pulling to get at.


                              Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                              What's the betting the electrician cites the old chestnut about the light switches not being earthed?
                              To be fair, the best practice guide no1 does recommend to try to get the customer to upgrade to wiring with a protective conductor, and only if the customer refuses to then carry out a risk assessment first.


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