We often take for granted the major role electricity plays in our day to day lives. From the moment we wake up, till the time we sleep, we generally are supported by at least 30 electrical devices in our homes. As with everything in life home electrics need maintenance, and before maintenance is required it all starts with a safety check which is also known as an electrical inspection. In this article we start by describing a general electrical safety inspection. We will then present situations where an electrical safety check definitely required. We also point out some safety checks that you can conduct yourself. Please note that this information is for guidance, but common sense must be used here. If you see anything that looks dangerous you can also contact Electrical Installationz who are on the National Electrical Safety Register, NICEIC approved, and we can offer advice or perform a check for you.
When is an electrical safety check 100% crucial?
If your home is older than 25 years then an electrical safety inspection is definitely recommended. Electrical best practices have changed in the last 25 years to improve the safety and lower the risk of any accidents. So homes over 25 years old generally pose a higher risk as they may not have all the electrical controls of a newer home.
If you have old wiring in your home this is also required. Wiring is something that should be monitored. On top of that similar to the old house scenario, old wiring may not be in line with the new regulations and standards and could therefore pose an electrical risk.
Are any of your electrical appliances or equipment acting erratically? By erratic we just mean if it is operating outside how you would normally expect it to operate. This comes in to play especially if the equipment is over 5 years old. If this is the case it is important to request an electrical safety check. When was your last safety check? The Institute of Electrical Engineers recommends a safety check every 5 years at the very minimum. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry so please bare this in mind.
Who can conduct electrical safety inspections?
A qualified, competent and experienced electrician can conduct a safety inspection.However if an electrician is approved by the NICEIC their work is also covered by an Electrical Safety Governing Body) If you are looking to have your work backed by the best competent person/ organisation scheme governing body, look no further. Be sure to always ask for this proof (NICEIC competence) before proceeding.
Visual electrical checks you should conduct yourself
Check for broken electrical items. For example light switches or plug sockets. A homeowner can also check for signs of scorching around sockets. Scorching is generally caused by overloading or damaged cables.
On top of this there are some general checks on appliances you can conduct. If you buy an electrical appliance the first thing to check is if it has a quality mark, this is generally in the form os a CE Mark, BEAB approved, or a British Standard Guidance Mark. This gives you the confidence that the item has been manufactured and quality assured.
A homeowner or landlord can also carry out visual checks on their appliances. Look to see if there are no cuts or abrasions in the cable. Also check that the plug is intact. Look closely to check that there are no loose screws on the appliance and also that there is no sign of burning or damage.
Generally it is also a good idea to conduct PAT testing. Refrigerators, washing machines and electric fires should be PAT tested every 4 years. Portable equipment such as table lamps, kettles, toasters and vacuum cleaners should be tested every 2 years.
The Electrical Safety Council also offer guidance as to when a fire alarm system should be inspected or tested. Fire alarms should be tested regularly. Specialist knowledge is not required to test a fire/smoke/heat alarm, generally you can follow the instructions as they will always state how a test can be made.
Apart from these basic checks electrical safety should be left to NICEIC approved and qualified electrician.