Welcome to ask an expert.
This is your chance to ask one of our highly trained engineers a question and have it professionally answered.
Your questions answered.
From Jim - I had an electrician round the other day and he told me that because I didn't have a certificate for my boiler installation that my home insurance is void. Is this true?
Yes, any electrical work carried out within your home should have a minor works certificate or installation certificate to go with it. Failure to have this certificate can void your home insurance. Think of insuring your home the same way as insuring your car. Any optional extras must be in the quote or your policy may be void.
From Abigail - My electric heating seems to be costing me a lot of money. Is there anything I can do to bring my bills down?
Electric heating can quickly run up a bill that’s for sure. Without knowing exactly what type of electric heating you have I cannot say for sure. Try to not heat rooms that you are not using. Use a thermostat to regulate the temperature. If the heaters are old and inefficient have them replaced for modern efficient heaters and be wary of heaters that are not specified correctly as they use a lot more power trying to get a room to temperature.
From Gillian - I'm looking at installing a new electric shower into my ensuite but I don't want to redecorate. Is installing the new shower messy and will it just cover over where the old one was?
Gillian, I can’t say for definite without seeing your old electric shower however, in most cases the new electric shower will just be a replacement of the old and should cover over any untiled areas meaning 90% of the time you won’t have to re-decorate. The only thing to bear in mind when sizing the new shower is that the cable size is big enough for the power of the shower you are buying.
From Dean - I'm getting a new fuseboard installed soon but I can't make my mind up on what extras I should get. Do I need to have surge protection, RCBO's and arc fault things all installed? Appreciate any feedback you can give.
No, these extras are not essential but definitely advised. It’s understandable not to fit them all due to the cost. We would recommend as a minimum to have surge protection devices and if your budget allows to also have RCBO’s. An RCBO will cost roughly, an extra £20 a circuit but well worth it in the case of a fault as the rest of the circuits won’t be interfered with.
From Jacob - We have recently moved into a new flat in Glasgow. I would like to have the electrics checked to make sure they are ok as some of the stuff in the flat looks pretty old tbh. Can you advise me of what service I need and what things to look out for?
Jacob, the best way to proceed is to have a electrical installation condition report (More commonly known as EICR) carried out. This is a thorough test of all the circuits and equipment which is collated into a report much like an MOT. Once you have the EICR report you will know exactly what needs upgrading/replaced, if anything.
From Danni - I'm trying to pick out a new washer/dryer. Is there anything that you would recommend looking out for?
Danni, your going to want to look at is the efficiency rating of the appliance as it gives you its green credentials and running costs. Also take into account where you are locating the appliance and how easy it is to locate an outlet pipe if it’s not a condensing dryer.
From Margo - I have just been quoted for a new fuseboard by a company but they are charging me more to do a test before they fit it. Is this needed? Should I get someone else to do it?
Hi Margo, I actually have to say that this company sounds to me if they are advising you well. Testing a property prior to installing a new consumer unit is something we also insist on. The reason for this is to ensure that your current electrics are up to the job. As an electrician, when fitting a new consumer unit you are essentially taking responsibility of the whole electrical installation. Any electrician worth their salt will test beforehand to ensure the installation is in good condition. If there is any existing faults on any of the circuits, the new more sensitive equipment will pick this up and simply not work until the fault is rectified. That is where the problem lies as when it comes to fault finding you never really know how long it will take and this could mean you going without power for an extended period of time.
From Amanda - I'm looking at getting new electric heating installed but was wandering if you could advise on you go about picking the right size radiator for each room?
Hi Amanda, the company we source our heaters from (The Electric Heating Company) have displayed on there website what size of area their radiators will heat up to. All you have to do is take the length and breadth size of the room in meters and multiply them by each other. For example, Say your room is 5 meters by 4 meters just simply times 5 by 4 equaling 20 square meters. You would then go onto The Electric Heating Companies website and find a radiator that heated up that size area. There will be occasions when two electric radiators/heaters may be required. If in doubt please call myhomehero and one of our electricians can come out to assist in getting the specification correct.
From Sharon - How do I know if I need a rewire?
There is a variety of arguments for and against rewiring your home. I would suggest getting a good electrician to carry out an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) so you can get an idea of the current condition of your electrics. Many electricians will quite happily install a new fuse board and be done with the job however this is a pretty slap bang approach. Even though we don’t do rewires we will assess your electrics age, current condition and test results while also considering things like any upcoming works you have planned etc before giving you the most honest advice we can on how best to proceed. This inevitably means we will get less work as some jobs will need rewired but we are here to serve you the customer, not the other way around. Finally, beware an electrician who only wants to sell you a new fuseboard! This is a high ticket price item for electricians but is not an instant remedy and sometimes it’s only as good as a plaster on an open wound.
From Margaret - I want to get a new electric shower fitted but I don't understand what the Kilo Watt thing means. Does it matter what size I buy? I don't mind spending a bit more for good pressure. Is there a make you recommend?
Hi Margaret, I hope you’re well. The main things electricians look at when installing a new shower is the size of the cable supplying it and the rating of the MCB or fuse. The reason for this is safety. An undersized cable could quickly become damaged and become an electrical fire risk. So, if you are looking at 7.5KW electric showers the chances are this can be swapped over no problem. If its 10.5KW electric shower you are looking at then there is every possibility that the existing cable is too small and will need upgrading. This will add a fair bit onto the installation cost of your new electric shower.
From Andrea - How easy is it to put a socket on the outside of our house? It would be good to have somewhere to plug in the Christmas lights. The house is a bungalow.
Hi Andrea, the installation of an outside socket is a straight forward job. If you have a socket on an external wall that can go back to back with the outside one then this shouldn’t take any longer than an hour. If you don’t have a socket on an external wall then the job can still be done but may take a little while longer and cost a little more due to the increase in time and material needed.
From Jean - My thermostat has packed in and I can't decide on whether to get a smart thermostat or just a replacement one. What's the difference?
Hi Jean, the difference is with a smart thermostat you have more control over your heating which means you could save some money on your heating bills. Say for example you were going to be out the house when you would usually have been home, with a smart thermostat you can turn the heating off from your phone. The apps are really easy to use and come with a lot more settings than you would usually get with a standard thermostat. Finally, the price difference is so low now that it really doesn’t make too much sense not to fit a smart thermostat.
From Dionna - I live in a flat, do I need hard-wired smoke alarms for the new Scottish regulations. I just don't want to have to redecorate AGAIN!
Hi Dionna, No the new regulations allow you to have battery alarms fitted as long as the meet certain criteria such as: 10 year tamper-proof Lithium ION battery and are interlinked to the other alarms in the house (meaning when one goes off they all go off).
From Rebecca - I saw you offer PAT testing. Do I need the appliances in my house tested?
PAT Testing domestic dwellings isn’t compulsory unless it a rental property. We believe it is always good practice to have your appliances checked regardless as the tests confirm the appliance is safe to use.
From David - I'm thinking of putting some electrics in my man cave. Can I just take an extension from my garage sockets?
It would be advisable that any cable run externally should have the appropriate protection for the environment that it is in. In this case for fixed power and lighting an extension lead would not be suitable. Please receive a quote from a certified electrician or get in touch to see how we can help you further.
From Phil - I'm getting my extension done at the moment. Do I need a certificate for the building warrant? Is this something you can help with?
Yes, you require an electrical installation certificate on any new electrical work. The electrical contractor who carried out the installation should have provided you with this. If you still require our help then this is something we would be happy to help you with.
From Stacey - There is a fishy smell and buzzing noise coming from my fusebox. It's been like this for the last week. What could be causing this problem?
Stacey this is most likely a loose connection that is causing some burning inside your fuseboard. Please have a certified electrician look at this immediately as it may be a fire risk.
From Daryl - Every time a spotlight blows in my hallway the fuse trips. Does this mean there is something wrong with my electrics?
No, this doesn’t mean something is wrong. When the lamp blows it creates a temporary short in the circuit which will trip your RCD. The only way to know for sure however is to have an electrician carry out a test of your home electrics.
From Gemma - I'm getting a new kitchen fitted and the kitchen fitter has said he will do the electrics. Is he allowed to do this?
Hi Gemma. No, do not allow any non certified electrician to carry out work in your house as you cannot guarantee the standard of his work. More importantly because he isn’t allowed to certify electrical work it means in the event of a fire your insurance wouldn’t cover you.
From Jason - I'm changing my sockets in a couple weeks. Is this a straight forward job I can do myself or do I need a sparky?
This is most certainly a job for an electrician. The job of changing sockets is relatively straight forward however if you have no means of checking the circuit is isolated correctly then it could turn deadly. Also this job would require a minor works certificate which only a qualified electrician can provide.
From Jimmy - I was up the loft recently and came across some bare cable. It looks like its coming off the big light. Is this dangerous?
Jim please don’t take any chances with this and contact a qualified electrician immediately. Exposed live parts are not only a shock risk but also a fire risk.