04 August 2013

Does your house need rewiring?


THE MOST frequent question I get asked is “how safe are the Spanish electrics in my home?” The short answer is for homes built since 2002, electrical safety is generally satisfactory. For homes built prior to 2002… unfortunately it’s “hit or miss.”

Spanish electrical regulations received a major overhaul in 2002 with specific improvements made to domestic dwellings, particularly to earthing (grounding), circuit layout and socket outlets, notably the standardisation across Spain of the Schuko type.

A periodic Test & Inspection that checks the condition of an electrical installation is recommended every 10 years for a home. However, most people are unaware of this regulation and since it is not a legal requirement it’s not surprising to find that people are bypassing electrical surveys in the current economic climate in a bid to save money.

Moreover a T&I tends to be forced upon people around the 20 year mark. This is because Iberdrola generally insist on a new boletin (electrical installation certificate) for properties over 20 years old. This normally catches out the unsuspecting home buyer or owner attempting to arrange a new electricity contract.

Installations that are over 30 years old will undoubtedly have obsolete socket outlets that are unsafe and not earthed, plus many will have been illegally upgraded over the years. This is probably a good time to start thinking long term and planning for a rewire. With Iberdrola currently replacing all traditional meters with new Smart Meters it’s worth checking that your contracted supply is sufficient for your consumption. The kill switch housed in the Smart Meter will ensure that properties are limited to the contracted supply. Inevitably, illegal upgrades will be downgraded.

If your house is over 40 years old, the chances are that different owners have altered or extended various wiring circuits by trying to adapt your house to modern living. The over use of adapters and extension leads is a sign the system may be overloaded, creating a potential fire hazard. Regardless of whether any electrical work was done by professional electrician or by D.I.Y. owners, it will most certainly not have been done to modern standards.

Houses can often appear to have deceivingly newer electrics because all the light switches, socket outlets and light fittings have been changed. However, a closer examination generally reveals that the actual age of the wiring is 40 years or more old. A professional Test & Inspection is the only way to tell for sure what state the wiring is in and if it needs rewiring.