How often should you check your electric installation

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It is a general perception that electrical installations are permanent and require no upkeep or maintenance – and that is far from true.

Even the highest quality installations deteriorate over time and require timely maintenance checks to ensure that anyone using the property is not put at risk.

The risks involved with poorly maintained electric wiring are not something one can ignore since they can result in some serious property damage and at times, even prove to be fatal.

It can cause circuits tripping, loss of power, as well as power surges, resulting in an unsafe environment with downtime and physical damage to appliances and property.

High energy consumption appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and desktops are the most susceptible to these power surges which can result in them receiving some permanent damage that can significantly reduce their lifespan.

In serious cases, faulty electric installations can cause sparks in the wiring resulting in fires. Fires are a common happening in both domestic and commercial settings, and according to statistics, electrical faults are one of the biggest reasons that they happen.

To avoid all the above-mentioned mishaps, all property owners must have their electrical installations checked. Also, prevention is better than cure. Electrical damages and fires can leave many with huge repairing costs and hospital bills. A timely maintenance check is always better than having to face the risks associated with not having it done.

The question now is how often should you check your electric installation? Read on to find out:

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHECK YOUR ELECTRIC INSTALLATION?

Electric installations don’t necessarily show signs of a problem until much later when the issue has spread far and wide, which is not the ideal situation to be in considering the amount of damage it can incur.

The best way to ensure that the wiring on your property keeps working as it should and stays in a good condition is to have a reliable electrical contractor regularly check it out. The professional electrician will be able to identify any potential or developing problems and fix them before they become an issue.

This practice will keep your home and business safe, save you money on huge repairing costs, and generally put your mind at ease.

  • Domestic electrical inspection & testing

It is recommended in the wiring regulations BS 7671 that a domestic property must be regularly inspected and tested after an electrical installation every 5-10 years, or if you are buying/selling the property.

  • Commercial electrical inspection & testing

It is a requirement under the Electricity of Work Act 1989 that as a business or commercial space, you must make sure that the electrical installation is deemed safe for use by your employees and the public. This is done by carrying out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) at regular intervals, which can range from 3-5 years.

  • Landlords Electrical Inspection & Testing

A Landlords Safety Certificate, which provides an electrical installation condition report to identify any issues and to make sure the property is safe for use and up to electrical standards and regulations, must be carried out every 5 years or whenever there is a change in occupancy.

  • PAT Testing

Portable Appliance Testing tests items that are not part of the fixed wiring, and so do not fall under the electrical testing of the premises, but it is recommended that they are tested between 3-12 months depending on the type and usage of the item.

WHAT DOES AN ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION CHECK INCLUDE?

According to the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), two kinds of electrical installation checks must be carried out by a professional electrician to ensure everything is working as it should. They are:

  • Visual Inspection Report (VIR)

A visual inspection is carried out to inspect any visible signs of damage or defect, after which a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) is generated that provides a general summary of the electrical installation’s health by recording all the observations and recommendations.

The electrician is likely to check the fuse board, sockets, lights, plugs, switches, cables and leads, earthing and bonding, visible signs of wear and tear, and burning, as well as the kitchen and bathroom safety.

  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)

An EICR is more detailed than a VIR and allows the electrical contractor to identify issues that couldn’t be found in the latter.

It identifies any damage, defect, or deterioration that may turn into a potential hazard, along with recording several observations in line with BS 7671 and providing recommendations for improving the installation.

Once the EICR check is completed, a certificate of the electrical installation is provided, classifying the condition of the installation into three codes:

  • Code C1: indicating that danger exists and immediate action is required.
  • Code C2: indicating that, while the observation is not considered to be dangerous at the moment, it could become a real and immediate danger if a fault or other foreseeable event was to occur.
  • Code C3: indicating that, while the observation is not considered to be dangerous at the moment, improvements would contribute greatly to the overall health of the system.

WARNING SIGNS OF INADEQUATE MAINTENANCE CHECKS

Issues with electrical installations may not always manifest early on, which is why regular checks are mandatory to avoid any such issues from turning into potential dangers such as a fire.

There are a few very obvious signs of electrical faults that are clear indicators of an overdue inspection by a professional electrician. They are:

  • Sign # 1: Excessive circuit breaker tripping

Normal tripping of circuit breakers is okay since that’s what they’re designed to do when the system experiences overloading. The problem arises when it happens too frequently which is a clear indicator of a serious problem with the electrical wiring.

  • Sign # 2: Flickering lights

Flickering, dimming, and buzzing lights could be an issue with the fixture itself but there’s also a high probability that the issue lies within the wiring, especially if it happens with more than one light fixture.

  • Sign # 3: Frayed wires

Amateur handymen and rodents are the main causes of frayed or chewed wires, which can be a serious fire hazard. It is best to get the wiring inspected as soon as any such issue is suspected.

  • Sign # 4: Discolouration and smoke

It is crucial to keep an eye out for discolouration, scorch marks, and smoke near the power outlets because that indicates damaged wiring releasing heat, which can ultimately result in a fire.

  • Sign # 5: Odd odours and burning

Use your sense of smell to sniff out the issue. Odd odours, such as of burning near the sockets, is a sign that fire damage may have already started and is real cause for alarm.

FIRE ALARMS

Fires are a real hazard caused by faulty installations, and since sometimes our senses can fail us in identifying signs of potential danger, it is a good idea to install fire alarms and smoke detectors to be warned at the earliest and being able to take the necessary action before things get out of hand.

There are different types of fire alarms and smoke detectors available for both residential and commercial properties that help minimize the threat and the material and financial losses that follow, as well as the loss of life.

All fire alarm systems operate using specialized detectors that can sense smoke or heat which then triggers the alarm to warn others in the area.

All businesses must have an effective fire alarm system in place, as laid out by the law, making it a vital part of any business operation, irrespective of the size.

The inability to abide by the fire safety laws can land the business owners in trouble, often resulting in heavy fines or jail time.

Integrating professional fire alarm monitoring services to the fire alarm system can help increase the effectiveness of the system tenfold. It sends the alarm to a professional monitoring station manned by experts trained to deal with such emergencies where they take quick action in informing the relevant authorities.

The alarm monitoring station is at its feet to ensure your safety and security at the first sign of a fire, offering constant protection and a guaranteed response from the authorities, even when the property is uninhabited, such as during the night or when it is empty during the day.

Fires are dangerous and it’s very common to see people panic in such situations, forgetting to even call the fire department in all the chaos that ensues.

In residential scenarios involving the elderly and children, you cannot trust them to make the right decision at the right time.

Due to health issues, an elderly person might be bed-bound and not make it to the phone in time to call the fire department, and a small child might, very naturally, get overwhelmed and scared to respond to the situation properly.

Therefore, even if there are people present in the area, it is best to have professional, trained people look out for your safety.

HOW CAN FAULTY WIRING AFFECT THE SECURITY OF YOUR PROPERTY?

Many security systems such as burglar alarms, CCTV, fire alarms, and access control systems work using electricity.

In the event of a power outage, such as due to faulty wiring, the security systems may stop working putting the entire property in a vulnerable state.

Therefore, in addition to the threat of a fire, faulty wiring can also result in compromised security, making your property an easy target for burglars.

Some landline phones also stop working during a power interruption, which can be bad for security systems relying on them for communication with monitoring stations.

A security system that isn’t working or communicating with a monitoring station is not a very effective deterrent against intruders and burglars, which is why along with having your electrical installations checked regularly and responsibly, you must also make sure that your security system has some sort of backup power supply that it can rely on, whether it is in the form of additional batteries or a power generator.

HOW CAN FAULTY WIRING AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?

As discussed above, one of the biggest risks involved with faulty electric installation is that of power outages.

How can these power outages affect your business?

Downtime, as a result of a power outage, can cost both small and large businesses a lot of money. Most businesses are dependent on equipment such as lights, electrical equipment, and computers, which all work using electricity.

The effects of business downtime are many and varied, with each having a serious impact on the business and its productivity:

  • Lost customers and revenue

This affects both physical and online businesses. A customer visiting an office or store might turn back seeing that the property is going through a power interruption since that would mean all the systems would be down, resulting in the inability to process transactions and ultimately, lost opportunities. In the case of an online business, sites going down and the potential customers not being able to make purchases can result in huge revenues being lost as well as tarnishing the business’s reputation.

  • Decreased employee productivity

Productive employees equal to a productive business. Downtime, as a result of power outages, can have a serious impact on the employee’s productivity levels resulting in a negative impact on the business. They might be unable to complete their tasks on time and may be required to work overtime to cover for the time lost.

  • Lost data on computers

Most of the important information these days is digital and stored in computers. As we all know, these devices need to be shut down properly. A power outage might cause them to shut down unexpectedly, resulting in vital data being lost or corrupted, which is at times very difficult to recover.

  • Damaged Equipment

Frequent power outages and electrical surges can cause long-term damage to expensive business equipment such as computers, which are a vital component in this day and age. It can cause them to either malfunction or stop working completely. The resulting repairing costs could be huge and unanticipated, causing a setback in the business’s budget.

WHO CAN CARRY OUT AN ELECTRICAL INSPECTION OF YOUR SYSTEM?

Electrical maintenance is a vital part of any installation and must be carried out by a reliable electrical contractor.

We, at Calder Electrical Services, are based in Wakefield and cover the whole of Yorkshire and beyond, offering a wide range of services to meet the demands of our clients, including all aspects of domestic, commercial and industrial installations, along with their testing and maintenance.

We have experienced and fully qualified electrical engineers on hand to deliver a professional and high-quality service. We are NICEIC registered following the current wiring regulations and all our work is fully insured.

If you have unplanned issues within your home and business, we can provide a call out service to rectify and solve any problems. Anything from circuits tripping, loss of power, broken items that need repairing, or to check if you feel something is unsafe or a potential hazard.

Our team can generate a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to identify anything visual that does not comply with the standards or looks unsafe, as well as a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) where we will identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use within the current standards and regulations set by the BS 7671.

We can also provide PAT testing of appliances to make sure that any items such as kettles, computers, and microwaves are safe for use in the home and workplace.

Our services also include:

Get in touch with us for our professional installation and maintenance services to keep your home and business secure from the risks of faulty electrical installations.