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Useful Resources: Electrical FAQs


What is a periodic inspection?

A periodic inspection is an inspection and associated testing which checks if an electrical installation is in a satisfactory condition for continued service. Once carried out, an Electrical Installation Condition (EIC) report is issued detailing any observed damage, deterioration, defects, dangerous conditions and any non-compliances with the current safety standards. [Back to top]

How often should I get my electrical installation tested?

Electrical installations should be tested often enough to make sure there has been little deterioration. Any part of an installation that has become defective between tests should be de-energised until the fault can be fixed.

A periodic inspection should be carried out every 10 years in owner occupied properties, and every 5 years in both tenanted properties and businesses. You should have your electrical installation inspected and tested by a person who has the competence to do so. [Back to top]

Who should carry out a periodic inspection?

A periodic inspection should be carried out by registered electrician. [Back to top]

What is a rewire?

A rewire replaces some or all the electrical wiring in a property. It is commonplace to add, replace or upgrade electrical items such as sockets and light switches during a rewire. [Back to top]

When do I need to get a rewire?

Although there aren’t any official guidelines to advise when a property should be rewired, there are many factors which can affect the wear and tear of electrical wiring in your home or business – including the materials used and how your property has been used. A periodic inspection will identify whether your electrical installation is safe or needs upgrading.

It is also important to carry out regular checks on the condition of your electrical items like switches and plug sockets to keep an eye out for early signs of damage or deterioration. If you notice something unusual, like burn marks on plugs and sockets, buzzing or crackling sounds, fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping, contact a registered electrician to look at your electrics as soon as possible. [Back to top]

Does all redundant wiring need to be removed?

When an electrical installation is rewired, it is good practice to remove redundant wiring. If not possible to do so, any redundant wiring must be permanently disconnected from any electrical supply so that it doesn’t present a risk. [Back to top]

How do I know if someone is capable of carrying out electrical work?

A person can demonstrate the capability to perform electrical work if they have successfully completed an assessed training course, with an accredited training organisation, that included the type of work being considered. As part of that course, this person should have demonstrated an ability to understand electrical theory and put this into practice.

A successfully completed electrical apprenticeship, with some post-apprenticeship experience, is a good way of demonstrating the capability for general electrical work. More specialised work, such as maintenance of high-voltage switchgear or control system modification, is almost certainly likely to require additional training and experience. [Back to top]

Can I do my own electrical work?

You can do your own electrical work if you are competent to do so. Many people are able to perform simple tasks such as wiring a plug, but there are more complex tasks, such as modifying an electrical installation, that may require the aid of a qualified and experienced electrician.

Those who wish to undertake electrical testing work would normally be expected to have more knowledge and be able to demonstrate competence through the successful completion of a suitable training course. [Back to top]

What regulations affect electrical work?

Electrical installation work is governed by industry standards and a legal framework. It is particularly important that anyone who undertakes electrical work can satisfy the requirements of The Building Act 1984 & 2000: The Building Regulations and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. As well as industry standards, electrical contractors are subject to a number of statutory regulations covering health and safety.

Find out more at NICEIC. [Back to top]

How do I know if my electrical equipment is safe?

You can find out whether your electrical equipment is safe by having someone carrying out suitable checks, such as an inspection or testing. The level of inspection or testing should be dependent on the overall risks – sometimes a simple visual inspection is likely to be enough for equipment used in a clean and dry environment.

The best way to find out if specialised equipment is safe is to have it inspected and tested by a someone with the right knowledge of that type of equipment. This may be the original manufacturer or their authorised service and repair agent. A reputable servicing company that deals with that type of equipment should also be competent to check its safety. [Back to top]

What regulations affect electrical work?

You can find out whether your electrical equipment is safe by having someone carrying out suitable checks, such as an inspection or testing. The level of inspection or testing should be dependent on the overall risks – sometimes a simple visual inspection is likely to be enough for equipment used in a clean and dry environment.

The best way to find out if specialised equipment is safe is to have it inspected and tested by a someone with the right knowledge of that type of equipment. This may be the original manufacturer or their authorised service and repair agent. A reputable servicing company that deals with that type of equipment should also be competent to check its safety. [Back to top]

When is it safe to work on live electrical equipment?

It is never absolutely safe to work on live electrical equipment. There are very few circumstances where it is necessary to work live, and this must only be done after it has been determined that it is necessary to do so. Even if working live can be justified, many precautions are needed to make sure that the risk is reduced ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. [Back to top]

When should I use a residual current device (RCD)?

It is advisable to use a residual current device (RCD) whenever possible, but particularly when using electrical appliances in the garden or in wet, damp locations.

It is preferable to use an RCD that is built into the main switchboard as this means that all circuits fed from that RCD are protected. If this is not possible, an electrical socket outlet incorporating an RCD, or a plug in RCD adaptor, should be used. An RCD that is incorporated into an ordinary mains socket, or plugged into it, will protect anything attached to that socket, but there is the possibility that equipment may be plugged into another, unprotected socket.

RCDs should be regularly tested by pressing the ‘test’ button and making sure the RCD trips. Faulty or inoperative RCDs should be removed and no longer used. For further guidance on installing an RCD, contact us. [Back to top]

What should I do if I think someone has had, or is getting, an electric shock?

If you think someone is suffering from an electric shock you must approach them with extreme caution. You should firstly separate the person from the source of electricity as quickly as possible by unplugging the appliance or turning off the mains on the fuse box. You should NEVER touch the person receiving an electric shock.

Visit Electrical Safety First for more guidance. [Back to top]

What is the most energy efficient lighting to use in my home?

The most common energy efficient lighting available are halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Even though these bulbs can initially cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, they use less energy and last longer so will save you money in the long-term. [Back to top]

 

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.

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