I frequently carry out through electrical inspections for home buyers in the Cardiff area. When I say through: I mean a comprehensive inspection, test and report with laymen’s terms attached. So, that’s something that will give you a clear picture of what you are considering buying with bargaining leverage in the event faults are found. I’m not just in and out after a cup of tea giving you a piece of worthless paper for £50. Do you really want to buy a property on the strength of an electrical inspection that cost the same as putting a light up?! There is a lot of old wiring inside Cardiff home so don’t chance buying one without inspecting the wiring first. It’s not just the worry of electrical safety when buying a home; the cost of repairs or rewiring can be disruptive and costly. Hire me: a reliable, registered electrician to inspect your home in South Glamorgan. Wouldn’t you rather know before making an offer what may be necessary to make the property safe and up-to-date with the latest wiring regulations? Well, that is exactly the idea behind an electrical inspection.
A periodic inspection will help determine if the property is electrically safe for continued use and compare it with the latest wiring regulations. But before you book me for an inspection: Ask the seller if they have an electrical certificate already! If they do; you can send any certification to me using the contact form. I’ll read it and let you know if i think you would benefit from an electrical installation condition report.
What is an electrical inspection?
An electrical inspection is carried out by an electrician who is up-to-date with electrical safety as set out in the wiring regulations (BS7671). It comprises a visual inspection and series of electrical testing inside (and often outside) the property. You may hear it being referred to as:
- Periodic inspection
- Electrical safety certificate
- Landlord electrical inspection
- Inspection and testing
- Electrical Installation Condition Report (shortened to EICR)
- 5 Year Electrical Test
What exactly is covered inside electrical installations and its testing?
The fixed wiring and accessories. The wiring buried inside the wall and socket outlets are covered but appliances (washing machines and boilers for example) are not unless you want my Portable Appliance Testing Service carried out at the same time.
What does an electrical inspector look for?
The first thing most inspectors ask when carrying out an electrical inspection is if any existing certificates are available. They can be used to speed up things like circuit identification and a reference to see if any test readings relating to electrical safety have deteriorated.
Without any previous inspection and testing reports; the electrician will usually start by identifying the circuits at the consumer unit. Once this has been done, I like to walk around the property and get an overall feel of the condition of the installation before any electrical tests takes place. Lack of sockets, pull cords inside bedrooms and re wireable fuse boards are signs of an old electrical installation.
Some inspectors will remove the electrical supply and begin a visual check of the cables and accessories – like light fittings, socket outlets and switches before any electrical testing takes place. Any items posing an immediate risk to safety will be resolved wherever possible. Some of the dead testing can be carried out like ring continuity on the socket circuits and insulation resistance testing which measures electrical leaks over a very small amount of time.
As a home buyer its in your interest to know about the safety of electrical wiring and if additional work is necessary to bring the installation up to current regulations. So many people buy homes in Cardiff, Penarth and Dinas Powys and discover electrical issues after they move in. Don’t be one of them!
The codes inspectors use when checking electrical safety
- C1 – Immediate danger. These need to be resolved as part of the inspection wherever possible. Exposed live wires or missing consumer unit covers are examples of a C1.
- C2 – Potentially dangerous. These are safety related issues which should be resolved as soon as possible. No RCD protection on circuits supplying items inside a bathroom or outdoors would be one example.
- C3 – Improvement recommended. Items with room for improvement or can be brought up to current regulations. Some electricians list older plastic consumer units as something that can be improved on. The latest AMD3 models are metal and non combustible.
The series of electrical tests
- Main earth to the property is safe and not reliant on other parts of the installation (like the gas or water pipes). Under fault conditions electrical current should travel to earth. So, if metallic light switches developed a fault and the face became live; the current should travel to earth and operate the circuit protection inside the consumer unit quickly before a user could experience an electric shock.
- Correct polarity – live and neutral in the right place. The live wire should always be where circuit protection and any switching is placed.
- Main bonding to extraneous services is present and the necessary size. Under fault conditions the earth we walk on and earth the electricity network operator provides can be different. By connecting gas and water pipes to the main earth will ensure there is no difference.
- Continuity of circuit protective conductors on all circuits. All circuits need circuit protective conductors for safety purposes. They help ensure circuit protection will operate quickly to help prevent electrical shock and fire.
- Insulation resistance. New cabling has a very high resistance from one part to another due to insulation. Old cables break down and can pose a shock and fire risk. Electricians use calibrated test equipment to help detect worn out cabling.
- Prospective fault current and earth fault loop impedance. The maximum amount of current that can flow from a live conductor to earth is called fault current. This is checked to ensure the parts of the installation can cope with this value. To allow circuit protection to operate quickly a low path to earth is necessary. This is called earth fault loop impedance and is checked at the consumer unit and accessories to ensure all circuits comply.
- RCD protection. RCDs help prevent electrocution and fire by removing the electrical supply quickly when the circuit is imbalanced. An imbalance occurs when current leaks somewhere it shouldn’t due to a faulty cabling or appliances.
- Functional checks. This will cover items such as isolators, switches and socket outlets.
How often should I have my house electrics checked?
On a new build the electrical systems wiring is usually given an inspection time of ten years. This is generally considered good practice to allow for normal wear and tear. Whilst inside an older property you could see if there is any time left on the existing report (which will also state when it was carried out). Just because the installation is in date it doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems. But it does mean some form of periodic inspection has been carried out which is better than nothing!
When an old installation is checked; the inspector will place a label on the consumer unit with the date of test and recommended retest date. This is also noted on the paperwork. If no faults are found; five years is common.
How much does an electrical inspection cost?
Inspecting electrical installations is time consuming when done thoroughly. Old installations can mean more testing because they have had more time to be altered without any electrical documentation. In 2020 most properties I inspected in older parts of the Welsh Capital did not have electricity certificates.
What is involved with electrical testing and how long does it take?
Samples of accessories are inspected and tested for functionality, safety and to allow testing (being the end of the circuit). Accessories include:
The consumer unit cover is removed to allow inspection of the wiring and for testing purposes. No carpets or floorboards will be lifted. Only parts of the electrical installation designed to be inspected for maintenance and testing purposes will be used.
Is testing a legal requirement?
Home and business owners should take legal advice and check with their insurer for further information on what may be required to ensure the electrical safety of their property.
Who will issue the certificate and will it be signed?
I will sign the condition report. I use the NICEIC online system which provides a serial number and produces a pdf document which you will receive via email.