Upgrading the electrical system of a property is expensive. Many do-it-yourselfers want to save money by doing the tasks themselves. However, most people are unsure about what is legally permitted in the field of electronics. After all, when in doubt, lives are at stake.
1. When should the electrical system in a property (house or apartment) be renovated?
The electrical system should be renovated after 30 to 40 years. The electronic installation of most old buildings is inadequate and then easily creates a hazard. If obvious damage occurs in the circuit, it must be repaired as soon as possible.
Outdated power distribution with a missing FI circuit breaker is an indication of outdated technology and should be retrofitted immediately. If the phases are often overloaded because there are too few circuits, this also speaks for a renovation.
Another indication that the building technology is too old is too few sockets. In the past few decades, not as many sockets were needed as they are today.
2. What work is involved in the renovation of the electrical system?
First of all, further procedures must be worked out during the planning phase. It must be clarified how high the future electricity demand will be, who should do which tasks when what material is required and how the renovation will be financed.
In the next step, the necessary caulking work (for the lines and sockets) must be carried out professionally and any empty pipes laid.
Then the cables must be pulled in and flush-mounted sockets installed.
After the switch box has been installed, the electrical system must be connected there, put into operation and the entire system must then be checked.
3. Which of these jobs can you do yourself (as a non-electrician)?
Since errors in home electronics can have far-reaching consequences, a layman is only allowed to take on a few tasks in this area himself. Smaller electronic work is still allowed for the do-it-yourselfer.
- Among other things, he may replace light bulbs from lamps or switch fuses on again.
- Likewise the caulking work and the final plastering of the cable ducts.
- Laying cables under plaster or plastering cavity wall boxes empty boxes can also be done by a layman.
- Generally speaking: In general, a do-it-yourselfer may assist an appointed specialist.
However, he must refrain from live wiring and the like.
4. What tasks must be performed by an electrician?
- The electrician must check the home improvement’s preparatory work for defects.
- He must also take over the connection or disconnection of lines.
- Only an electrician may commission and test electrical systems. This must be employed in a recognized master company and verified by the local energy supplier.
5. Other frequently asked questions about the renovation of home electrical systems
5.1. Can a qualified electrician carry out electrical work privately?
A specialist electrician (e.g. a specialist in event technology) is not a full-fledged electrician. Thus, taking on the tasks intended for electricians is a gray area for him. A check by a master electrical engineer must be carried out in any case. In addition, a specialist electrician may not carry out any work on the house connection or the meter cabinet.
5.2. What safety precautions does a do-it-yourselfer have to observe?
- The fuses should be switched off before electrical work is carried out and a warning notice should be attached.
- Before starting the activity, the phases should be checked for the absence of current.
- Should an electric shock nevertheless occur, an ambulance must be alerted immediately, even minor electric shocks can be life-threatening!
- Suitable tools and the use of tested materials (GS seal and VDE test mark) should also be a matter of course for the do-it-yourselfer.
The 5 safety rules
There are five general safety rules when dealing with electrical equipment. Depending on which type of system is available, these can vary somewhat, but the basic procedure remains the same.
1st rule: Unlock the system
In short, “disconnecting” is the all-pole disconnection of all live parts of an electrical system.
Before working on the electrical system, it is first necessary to disconnect the system from the power supply. If it is a 230-volt system, this can be achieved, for example, by unscrewing a fuse or switching off a circuit breaker. The same applies to lighting systems that usually work with 230 or 400 volts.
It should be noted that turning off the light switch is not enough to unlock the system.
In the case of medium and high-voltage systems, a corresponding switching operation must usually be carried out by a specially trained employee of a specialist company.
2nd rule: Protection against being switched on again
Simple but effective: Next, it is necessary to put up a sign that prohibits switching operations. However, if the switching element concerned is accessible to unauthorized persons and is therefore not located in an external, locked electrical room, then a sign is unfortunately not sufficient. In this case, it is necessary to attach a mechanical fuse that ensures that it cannot be switched on again. The fuse must not be able to be released without tools.
3rd rule: determining the absence of voltage
If a voltage tester is used to determine whether there is a voltage-free condition or not, then this is still considered live working; after all, it could actually still be there. If it is a 230-volt system, then a two-pole voltmeter is required to determine the absence of voltage.
Attention: The single-pole test devices often used by electricians must not be used here. This is due to the fact that under unfavorable conditions they may indicate that there is no voltage, although this is not the case. In addition, it should be checked beforehand whether the voltage tester is working properly.
For very high voltages, there are special measuring devices that can be used to measure the voltage from a safe distance.
4th rule: grounding and short-circuiting
If the system is safely de-energized, the earthing system and conductors can be connected using short-circuit-proof earthing and short-circuiting devices. The general rule is:
Ground first, then short circuit.
This procedure is the last safety measure should the system be switched on despite all the measures taken. Furthermore, this prevents any residual tension from being transferred to the body when touched.
5th rule: covering and fencing off live parts
The last rule applies when working with parts under tension within a predefined approach range. This is also the case if the area in question has to be entered with various tools, such as a ladder.
Covering and barricading are carried out using mechanically strong safeguards that prevent even accidental contact, such as due to tripping or twisting.
If there are parts of the system in the vicinity of the worksite that cannot be isolated, further safety measures must be taken. For example, insulating cloths or protective plates are used here to prevent accidental touching of the live parts.
5.3. What are the benefits of hiring an electrician?
An electrician has specialist knowledge and can quickly work in a goal-oriented manner. He can also give tips from past projects and positively influence the end result.
Another advantage is that he can be held liable for any errors. Mistakes made by an electrician have no effect on insurance coverage in the event of damage.
5.4. What are the disadvantages of working with an electrician?
Working with a professional can negatively affect the schedule. Electricians are in demand. Therefore there are sometimes very long waiting times.
In addition, working with experts costs significantly more than doing the tasks yourself. The current strong demand for electricians increases the costs incurred. The choice of materials is often determined by the electrician.
5.5. What makes a good electrician?
A good electrician has a thorough education. Many companies proudly display the certificates of their employees. If these cannot be found in the company, a friendly inquiry can help.
The electrical company should always be available during business hours. This ensures that help comes quickly in emergency situations. Appointments should always be kept and if something comes up, they should be canceled in good time.
The price should be in a fair middle range and be transparent. If a company refuses to make a binding offer or to disclose all prices in advance, the cooperation should be reconsidered.
Prices that are too low also indicate inferior quality. Prices that are too high are usury and should not be accepted either.
5.6. How to find the right electrician?
Personal recommendations from friends and family are the number one guide to a good electrician. They tell unembellished and without exaggerating what experiences they have had with different companies.
Experience reports from the Internet are also a good help when looking for a suitable electrician. In addition to the average rating, the individual reports should be read and critically examined. Because companies are often rated badly because of trivialities.
No matter how large or small the specific renovation or construction project is, certain work requires the expertise of a specialist. In this case, friends and good acquaintances are worth their weight in gold if they can recommend a good craftsman. If they don’t have advice, how do I find a qualified professional who will get the project done cleanly, correctly, and at a fair price?
How to find craftsmen? The supply is large, but the demand for handicraft services is currently even greater. There are no patent instructions – but there are a number of very specific criteria that you can use to navigate to the desired goal with relative certainty.
5.7. How expensive is an electrical refurbishment?
There is no general answer to the question of how expensive it will be to renovate the electrical system in a house. The costs depend on various parameters. The costs are divided into material and personnel costs.
The material costs are calculated from the number of sockets, switches, and lights required, the quality of the selected goods, and how many meters of cable have to be laid. How well the basic installation is preserved also plays a factor in the cost.
The personnel costs are based on the hourly wages of the technicians and the hours worked. Therefore, despite a higher hourly rate, experienced electricians can still be cheaper than inexperienced technicians with a lower hourly rate.
5.8. As a tenant, what am I allowed to do with the electrics myself?
Tenants can carry out the simplest tasks themselves, such as replacing a lightbulb or a fuse, without hesitation. For all “larger” work, the landlord should always be consulted. This also applies to the commissioning of a specialist.
When we rent an apartment or a house, we actually assume that not much more work needs to be done there. Basically, a rental apartment is already ready when it is handed over. In some cases, a kitchen still has to be installed, but usually, everything is actually included and ready before you move in.
Nevertheless, there are always situations in which one would like to change or improve something in the apartment, perhaps even have to change it, because otherwise, it would no longer be good to live there.
In such a case, the question is: How far am I actually allowed to go as a tenant, what am I allowed to do and what should I rather not do?
You should deal with this question in detail when the time comes, otherwise, you can quickly get stressed with the other tenants in the house or even with the landlord.
In a rented apartment, you are sometimes restricted in your freedom of design. Not only by the landlord but also by numerous laws. In the next few lines, you will find out what you should consider when renovating a rented apartment and what costs are covered by the landlord.
5.9. Can/should I connect old electrics to new ones?
We generally advise against this. You never know what problems lie behind old lines. In addition, laying the cables does not cost much if you do it yourself.
Do-it-yourselfers may only undertake preparatory tasks themselves. You should take a few safety precautions. A licensed electrician must be hired as soon as the electrical circuit is tampered with.
A good electrician is often recommended by friends. From planning to completion, intensive consultation should always be held with a specialist company.
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