19 Oct 2006
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United Kingdom
I have just purchased a house which is about 15 years old. No problem with the electrics but want to change light switches and plug sockets over to metal from plastic. I have managed to change the single plug sockets over as they did not need to be earthed as per the instructions. However when I came to change the double plug sockets and light switches they require to be earthed to the back box. Is this just a case of buying some earthing cable (green & yellow casing) and earthing switch plate to back box? Also I want to change light switch to a dimmer switch which also requires earthing. Any help would be appreciated as had a quote from an electrician who wanted £15 per socket to change over and thought that was a bit extortionate??

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All metal sockets, switches and lamp fittings need to be earthed.

I did not understand what you meant about the single sockets not needing it.

When you have metal back boxes in the wall:

Turn off all the power and check that the circuit is dead.

Remove the accessory front and test all the terminals to make sure they are dead.

Put the earth cores from the supply cable (insulated with G&Y sleeving) into the Earth terminal in the accessory. It is useful to have a spare length of sleeving in case you find any is missing, damaged or too short.

Buy a couple of metres of 2.5mm earth wire (already sheathed) and cut it into 6-inch pieces, put the copper ends into the earth terminal in the accessory, and the other end into the earth terminal in the back box.

When refitting the accessory fold the wires carefully back into the box so that they are not damaged by a screw or trapped as the faceplate goes back.

It is also possible to make up your own lengths of earthing cable with plain copper wire and the sleeving.

Some light fittings in older houses do not have an earth, in which case you must only use insulated (plastic) fittings, not metal ones.

Your electrician has quoted a price which makes it worth his while to do the job, but it is very simple.
Thanks JohnD. I purchased some earthing wire which was already sleeved from a hardware store yesterday and successfully managed to change all of the sockets and switches . Was a time consuming job and a bit fiddly but easy really. Saving myself alot of money. Thanks 4 advice.

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