Buying, selling or running a home – everything you need to know about your home and garden!

Adding extra sockets to a room (surface-mounted)

If you’re constantly using trailing sockets or adapters to run your electrical appliances in a particular room, then it’s time to look at adding extra wall sockets.

The good news is that in most cases it’s a relatively easy job to do this, and – at the time of writing – you don’t need to notify the job to the council under Building Regulations, as long as you’re adding the sockets to an existing radial circuit, ring circuit or spur and not direct to the consumer unit.

NB – There are important exceptions to this!

  • Work carried out in a kitchen, bathroom or outdoors must ALWAYS be notified.
  • The only sockets allowed in a bathroom are low-power ones for electric shavers, and there are stringent regulations as to where they may be located.

We strongly advise against undertaking your own electrical work in any of these locations.

In any event, it’s a sensible step to get your work tested and certified for safety afterwards – to ensure that your building and contents insurance is still valid and that the work doesn’t cause a hitch if you come to sell the house.

You can choose two basic ways of mounting your new socket: surface-mounted or flush-mounted.

Flush-mounted sockets

Flush-mounted sockets are a little more tricky than surface-mounted ones because you’ve got to cut away part of the wall to fit the metal mounting box inside. But they look much tidier. You can see how to do it in our article on mounting flush-mounted sockets.

Surface-mounted sockets

Surface-mounted sockets are simple to install; you simply take the plastic box and screw it to the wall using screws and wall plugs. The disadvantage is that they stick out into the room a bit – which can be inconvenient if, say, you’re planning to install them over a worktop where space may be at a premium.

Just knock out the fixing holes in the back of the plastic box, then hold the box up square against the wall and make a mark on the wall through each hole. Drill holes and plug them with No.8 wall plugs. Break away the piece of plastic covering the cable entry hole you’re planning to use (the one in the back if the cable’s buried in the wall, one in the side if it’s surface-run). Push a loop of cable of about 75mm (3″) length into the box, then fix the box to the wall using countersunk woodscrews. Finally, wire the socket (see below).

Wiring and fitting the socket

This is straightforward. You’ll need to use new-style wiring cable with a brown insulated live wire and a blue insulated neutral wire. The bare wire in the middle of the cable is the earth wire; you should insulate this yourself with the correct green-and-yellow sleeving.

The brown wire goes into the hole marked “L”; the blue wire goes into the one marked “N”, and the earth wire goes into the one marked with the letter “E” and/or the earth symbol. Strip off just enough insulation to ensure that a connection is made; if you strip away too much, then either snip the wire shorter or fold it back on itself. Make sure the terminal screws are tight.

You may have to bend the individual wires (which are quite stiff) to allow the faceplate of the socket to close. When you’ve done that, tighten each fixing screw bit by bit until the faceplate is securely fixed to the wall or the box.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to connect your socket to the mains