01892 531 728

01892 531 728

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VIR– Vulcanised Indian Rubber Electrical Cables

Before the introduction of PVC, the majority of  Electrical cables used had Vulcanised India Rubber (VIR) for insulation and protection.

The VIR cables were used in the majority of the wiring in properties, and on the whole did not have an earth wire attached (the Continuous Protective Circuit – CPC) .

Deteriorating VIR Cable


Even the mains cables coming from the electricity meter to the Fuse board were VIR.

These mains cables still continued to be installed until the early 1960’s, and can often be found in converted blocks of flats where there is a switched isolator in the basement / hallway, and then the VIR cable goes up to the flat. It is often found that the flats have been more recently rewired, but the mains cable is VIR.

Unfortunately, rubber is perishable. The photo above shows a typical cotton braided VIR cable.  The cotton braid provided some mechanical protection to the rubber, these cables are now 60 + years old.


VIR Sheathed Cable where sheathing has just fallen away 

Just literally before the connections to this pendent light


At the end of the screwdriver the VIR sheathing is splitting away,
behind a socket outlet



VIR Cable deteriorating behind a light switch,

Note: there is NO Safety earthing circuit, and the light switch cabling is holding the deteriorating cables in a DRY WOODEN combustible back box.


The other photos show examples of wiring circuit VIR cables found in a local Tunbridge Wells property.

Once the rubber sheathing on the cable becomes brittle, just like an old elastic band, it starts to crack and break away. When this happens, the copper in the cable can become exposed, leading to a potential risk of electric shock, fire or an immediate loss of power due to a short circuit rupturing the protective fuses.

As electricians who carry out a lot of safety inspections these cables are easily spotted, and to  provide some concern when testing, as with the slighted of movement in opening up electrical outlets the sheathing, can and does fall away.

We can find at times PVC cables have been connected to the VIR cable just to hide its existence – but it is still there and does pose a risk to our customers.


VIR Cable deteriorating in an old Fuse Box

Note: the 2 large cables black & red cables on the right which are frayed blackened, and beginning to break down.

Also the 2x Red wires in the Front going into the Blue and Red receptacles, the rubber has hardened, and any movement here it will crumble away, to expose bare wires and potentially give rise to a Fire Risk or Electrocution.


What should I do?

Should you suspect your cabling is old, or you have seen / touched some cables where the sheathing has just crumbled away, or it has been highlighted in an electrical report.

Remember once you have been made aware, and should there be a problem in the future, where fire officers, or insurance companies are involved. It has been highlighted to you, then you could face a void insurance claim.

At Bright Spark Electrical we do offer payment by Credit Card so your costs can be spread over a longer period of time.

Just contact your local NICEIC Electrician, or call Karen to discuss the situation further.

Karen Smith

Bright Spark Electrical Services

01892 531728


You should take this electrical Safety Warning Seriously particularly if you have a property dating back at least 60+ years.

Here is a short Video explaining what HM Queen Elisabeth has had done at Buckingham Palace.


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