Electrical inspections (EICR)
An electrical inspection will check an installation is safe. Wiring and electrical accessories wear and age. By having the electrical installation in your home or business tested it will:
1. Check for items that need immediate attention. (Code C1)
2. Check for items that could cause danger in the near future. (Code C2)
3. Compare the installation with the latest wiring regulations (BS7671). An installation maybe safe, but require additional work if: (Code C3)
– You are planning on modifying or installing a new kitchen.
– You would like to convert the loft in to a bedroom or office.
– You would like to replace the bathroom suite.
– You are planning on having an extension built.
– Changing the design of your home may require new cabling and replacement consumer unit.
Electrical inspectors use codes for faults discovered within the installation. A C1 should be given to something which is dangerours and needs resolving straight away. Examples of a code 1 are accessible live parts. A consumer unit with no cover on under the stairs for example. Some urgent electrical problems are difficult to resolve if parts are obselete. In the case of a missing consumer unit cover, all circuits would be live and so would the main switch. A C1 code should represent an immediate danger to life or the building.
C2 codes are for items that may cause danger in the near future. Poor working practice – like a cable that isn’t designed for its environment for example. The cable maybe considered OK on the periodic inspection, but breakdown due to its location.
If the electrician finds room for improvement a code C3 is noted. One of the most used codes in twenty five year old Cardiff homes! A consumer unit made from combustible material is one example. At the time of installation, plastic was the current standard. New consumer units are steel.
Most lenders advise a through check of the wiring. Imagine moving in to your new home and discovering problems with the electrics. Rewiring a three bedroom house in Cardiff costs thousands and will need decorating to finish. A complete rewire is disruptive, so it’s wise to have a registered electrician complete a through electrical inspection before buying a Cardiff apartment or house. No one wants to hear their perfect house has electrical problems, but its better to find out. An inspection will help budget for any electrical work needed if you are going to buy the property.
If everything works, is an electrical inspection necessary?
Electrical components need inspecting the same way a gas boiler does. Typical life of pvc wiring is twenty five to thirty years. The insulation covering the copper conductors fails over time. Cables installed close to central heating pipes will cause wiring to fail sooner. If you noticed a radiator dripping you would call a plumber. No one can see electricity leaking. Cables are inside walls, joists above the ceiling and out of sight. Removing a socket and consumer unit cover allows a visual inspection of the wiring. The latest wiring is brown and blue and made from solid copper. It has a PVC cover compared to the older cable with steel conductors and rubber sheath. Electricians use test instruments to assess the condition of the wiring. Insulation resistance testing reveals how servicable cable and accessories are at the time of test. Faulty wiring increases the risk of electrical-related injury and fire.
Electrical installation condition reporting (formerely periodic inspection) comprises:
A visual inspection. Looking inside the consumer unit and socket outlet the inspector can see the cable and its termination. The idea of sampling accessories is to build a picture of the installation. If the cable and connections are good on five items thats a good sign. If signs of old cable or bad working practice are present, the inspector may decide to dig a little deeper. Although electricians cannot see through walls or ceilings; a through visual check will paint a valuble picture. Have you ever watched your vehicle service? Mechanics use a torque wrench to check wheel nuts haven’t worked loose since its last inspection. Electricians check the screws forming the connection inside your consumer unit upon inspection. Poor connections can start fires. For the visual inspection i’m looking for age, condition, alterations and obvious electrical problems. Firstly, i check the consumer unit for labelling. The circuit protection should state what it is protecting. Labels can be missing and incorrect. If your tumble dryer burst in to flames you would like to see “kitchen sockets” so you could remove the power. With the circuit information the inspection and testing can begin.
Testing. The tests carried out consists of dead tests (power removed from the circuit) and live testing. With all the tests complete the requestor will know:
* If the earthing and bonding is satisfactory.
* If the wiring is at a level that needs further investigation
* If the circuits protection would operate in the necessary time frame to prevent electrocution and fire.
Five reasons electrical installations fail a periodic inspection
1. Poor earth connection. In rural areas like Pentyrch and Old St Mellons the consumer is responsible for the safety connection. The problem is you wouldn’t know if you had no earth! The earth connection exists to provide a safe path for fault current to flow. Electrical components pose a risk to users under fault conditions in a property with no earth. The first part of testing checks the earth is good and doesn’t rely on gas or water pipes.
2. Main bonding. Conductive parts entering a property need connecting to the main earth terminal via a thick cable. The safety of the UK electrical system depends on this. In a domestic property this means the gas and water pipes. In a commercial premises steel work connects in the same way.
3. No rcd protection. Rcds help reduce the risk of electrocution and fire. Most new electrical work including:
* Work inside a bathroom
* Electrical supplies to outside
* All socket outlets
* Cables buried inside walls
all require them.
4. DIY electrical work. Most people can get an electrical appliance working. This doesn’t mean it has been carried out to best practice or safe. Most of the wiring regulations (BS7671) has been written to ensure circuits disconnect in the necessary time frame. Registered electricians have the knowledge and test equipment to confirm if this is the case.
5. Incomplete circuits. Most houses in Cardiff have socket circuits in a ring layout. Testing can reveal two circuits instead of one. The circuit protection is higher than the cable can carry without the risk of becoming warm in these cases.
Have the electrical installation tested and keep your family and building safe. Don’t wait until lights flicker, an rcd trips or a tingling sensation from the bath taps to make an appointment.
The inspection process; what to expect on the day .
If you have it, previous electrical certificates and reports are useful because:
* It would highlight if something listed had become worse since the last inspection.
* It helps confirm the circuit layout – and if anything has altered since the last test.
* It confirms electrical work has been carried out by registered electricians.
I will need access to the whole property including the loft and detached garage if power is present. As many accessible socket outlets as possible can be checked on the day.
The electrical safety test procedure .
The first test confirms the main earth is functional and isn’t relying on the gas or water pipe. The second check is to confirm polarity; the live and neutral are in the correct place. The series of tests that follow will clarify the condition of the wiring inside the walls and under the floors. Test equipment can measure current leaking between conductors and circuit breakers would trip should a fault arise.
Power for the whole property will be off whilst some tests take place (known as dead testing). So your landline will work, the broadband equipment won’t. Something to bear in mind if you work from home and rely on an Internet connection! The total amount of time the inspection takes will depend on:
1. The number of consumer units.
2. The total number of circuits.
3. The size of the property.
4. If the circuit protection labels are present and correct (working out what belongs to which circuit can take some time!)
5. The amount of the installation that is being tested. In a domestic setting, it is common practice to test all the circuits. In a commercial environment with lots of circuits its typical to test in groups. So group a on one inspection, group b on the next, group c on the following test. This way all circuits are being testing in rotation.
When i have completed the visual and tests that make the EICR i use the NICEIC online form to compile the results. Observations listed, recommendations and test results. Photos are common practice to help the requester see items they maybe unaware of. I supply a laymens report explaining what (if anything) needs to make the installation safe and up-to-date. You can view sample reports from Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan properties below. One thing to bear in mind is electrical inspections are not like an MOT where every inspector will:
* Test the emmisions
* Test the brakes
* Test the seat belts
* Check the tyres
* Check for rust
regardless of which test station you use.
The amount of the installation tested is determined by the inspector. Most of the trade bodies electricians belong to state a typical three bedroom house is roughly four hours work. So an inspection lasting thirty minutes isn’t going to be detailed – do you really want to buy a house on the strength on something like that?! If you would like a through inspection of the wiring and its accessories and live in the Cardiff or Vale area i would like to hear from you.