Do I Need To Remove Pets For A Rewire? A Brief Look At The Safety Issues

I love our furry friends but when I visited a potential customer’s home to quote for a rewire today, as soon as I stepped in the door I was greeted by two of the largest slobbering dogs I have ever seen plus a ginger tom cat eyeing me suspiciously from his high position on the stairs.

My first thought was what a nightmare it would be to carry out a rewire if these pets were in the house. This gave me the idea that there must be plenty of people having construction work done and wondering if they need to remove their pets so I thought a blog post on the topic may be useful.

When answering the question, do I need to remove pets for a rewire? I’ve touched mainly on dogs and cats because these are probably the most difficult pets to uproot. I don’t own any guinea pigs so correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming moving them and their cage to a friend or family members for a couple of weeks wouldn’t be the biggest ask in the world.

Rewires can be dangerous places for pets with all the floorboards being lifted and disruption
Rewires can be dangerous places for pets with all the floorboards being lifted and disruption

Do I Need to Remove Pets for a Rewire?

In my time as an electrician, I can say with certainty that rewiring, or any construction work in general, is much easier done with pets removed from the house. Some pets are timid and the disruption upsets them, whilst others are inquisitive, so much so that they can get under your feet causing a nuisance and trip hazard; even if they are an adorable trip hazard.

On a personal level, I’m a fan of both dogs, cats and just about any animal really. This is not always the case for my electrician colleagues. I always feel a little sorry (only a little because it is quite funny) to see the look on a workmate’s face when they are met at the door by a big dog and I know they are not a fan of our canine friends.

As well as removing pets during a rewire to keep the electricians happy. Perhaps the bigger concern on homeowners’ minds should be the danger that the construction work poses to their pets. Construction sites are dangerous places to be, and although your home may not be considered a construction site whilst the work is going on it technically is. This means that pets are best removed to prevent them from coming into contact with the various hazards discussed below.

Dangers to Pets During Rewire and Construction Work?

In my experience, the biggest dangers to pets during a rewire or other construction work, are the high noise levels, the constant coming and going of strangers and the lifting of floorboards revealing many alluring places to hide in. The table below shows the average noise levels of the most common tools used in rewires and general construction work.

Table Showing Noise Levels of Common Construction Tools

ToolEstimated Noise Level
Chasing Machine100dBa
Circular Saw (for cutting floorboards)103dBa
Noise levels of popular power tools. Source

We can see from the above table that rewires can get pretty noisy indeed. When we consider that the max noise level dogs and cats should be subjected to is 85dBa we can see that the noise levels of these tools alone are way above that. We should also bear in mind that the material being cut could dramatically increase the noise levels as well.

Perhaps the most disruptive tool that is commonly used is the chasing machine. Chasing walls is a dusty, noisy job that causes vibrations throughout the entire home. In my opinion, if it is not possible to remove pets for the duration of the rewire then removing them for the first few days whilst the chasing of the walls takes place is the next best option.

A rewire takes over the entire house and whilst it is possible to carry it out in stages, the majority of times it is much quicker (and therefore less expensive) to blitz the whole house in one go. This means that safe, quiet places to store your pet can be tricky to find. Upstairs bedrooms are often best for this tactic, but even the selected room will need to be entered at various points to chase walls and run cables.

If the dog or cat can go outside for the day while the work goes on, in my experience, this works pretty well. As long as your pet has a safe dry place away from the noise and disruption they usually look pretty content to me, even if they often do try to nip back in the house whenever the back door gets opened.

There's generally a lot of debris lying around during construction work that can harm pets
There’s generally a lot of debris lying around during construction work that can harm pets

Cats and Rewire Dangers

Cats deserve their own particular category for rewiring dangers as in my experience these are the pets most likely to get themselves into trouble during construction work. Cats love to hide in dark places which can be a real problem. Whilst the floorboards are lifted, the dark safety under the floorboards is very alluring to cats and I’ve seen several dart underneath and refuse to come out from their safe hiding place!

When the cat is seen performing this stunt the problem is not so catastrophic. The real issue is if the furry friend decides to sneak underneath the floor whilst no one is looking. I have never done it, but a colleague did tell me a story of the time they put the floorboards and the carpet back down at the end of the day, only to hear the whining of the cat coming from below meaning they had to pull the boards back up again to rescue it!

It’s also worth bearing in mind that when working electricians need to pop outside to the van multiple times a day. If you have a house cat who is not allowed outside, it can be very easy for it to slip out a front door which has been accidentally left open.

How Long Do Pets Need to Stay Away for During a Rewire?

As eluded to earlier, if pets cannot be completely removed for the full duration of the rewire, keeping them away for the initial few days, when the noisy wall chasing and route finding happens, will help dramatically. Bringing them back into the home too soon will still present challenges, such as keeping them away from freshly plastered and painted walls but compromises have to be reached sometimes.

Out of interest, I looked in my home town of Bristol at prices to put a cat in a cattery for two weeks and to put a dog in a kennel for two weeks. The table below shows the cost per week

PetCost One WeekCost Two Weeks
Table showing cost to put a cat and dog in a home during construction work.

The website I looked at quoted, £75.25 for the cat and the other website quoted £103.25 for a dog per week. A rewire generally takes around two weeks but the redecoration work can be several more weeks on top of that. Putting your pet in a home for the full duration may not be the best option either for emotional or financial reasons.

Final Thoughts

My colleagues and I have carried out plenty of electrical work for people who also share their homes with pets. Whilst it’s not ideal, we are usually able to work around them. If the cat is allowed outside, it often disappears for the day and comes home when we have packed up, and dogs can usually be left to sulk in the garden all day.

In my experience, a rewire is a big job and a more permanent temporary solution (if that makes sense) is better. The disruption caused during a rewire can be pretty large so keeping animals out of the mix helps everyone involved to have a much smoother ride.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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