Identifying Common Electrical Hazards Through Residential Testing

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Common Electrical Hazards

They say the safest place for any person is their home. However, to maintain the full safety of your property, your loved ones, and yourself, it is essential that you know how to identify common electrical hazards and have them fixed by a professional using residential testing.

Residential testing is an excellent way to figure out the exact electrical problems in your home and to take quick action to fix them before they can jeopardise your safety. Thanks to the British Standards, we have a blueprint for success where everyone can maintain the safety of their residential property and ensure that everything is running as expected.

In this guide, we will cover the common faults and hazards in residential properties and how you can leverage the power of residential testing to secure your assets and the safety of the people living on the property.


Before you call in the specialists, you must understand the nature of electrical faults and learn how to identify them. After all, if you don’t understand a problem, you can’t take the appropriate measures to fix it!

Electrical faults come in all forms. Some are harmless while others may require immediate attention, especially if they have been ignored for a long time. In some cases, small problems that persist may lead to further, and more serious, issues down the road.

Let’s look at some of the most common electrical faults and hazards at home, along with their possible causes and solutions:

Frequent power surges

Thanks to modern power transmission systems, power surges have become rare and only occur during specific events. For example, power surges can be caused by lightning strikes, damaged power lines, faulty appliances, and faulty wiring in your house.

While these power surges last less than half a second, frequent surges can damage your electrical appliances and components and significantly reduce their life. Furthermore, these surges can also affect the safety components in your installation and can even damage multiple breakers!

If you experience frequent power surges in your home, the culprit is probably an appliance or the wiring itself. To be sure, it is best to consult with a professional and get the issue fixed quickly.

Buzzing noise and discolouration of switches and sockets

Electricity and buzzing may be common with extremely high-current power transmission components that you may find outside your home – but buzzing inside can be a cause for concern.

A buzzing noise may seem harmless, but when it comes from an electrical component such as a switch or socket, it can be a sign of defective wiring and cause harm to anyone who encounters the faulty switch.

The socket or switch becoming hot is also a common issue that must never be taken lightly. Sure, electricity causes a build-up of heat, however, plugs are designed to dissipate this heat and can never go too hot to touch.

If you touch a socket or switch and it is burning hot or begins to discolour, then action must be taken immediately to rectify it as the excess heat may be caused by defective wiring.

Repeated circuit breaker tripping

The role of circuit breakers is to protect your appliances from overcurrent or damage. They work by breaking the flow of electricity and “tripping” the circuit when it exceeds the safe limit.

Circuit breakers may trip if you install a high-powered appliance on a low-load socket. In this case, you might not need to call in the cavalry and just move the appliance over to a high-load circuit.

To fix the tripped circuit, you will need to access the main power box in your home and simply find the breaker that has switched to the off position. Carefully turn on the breaker and it should restore power to the circuit.

However, if the breaker is consistently tripping without any known reason, then you might need to investigate further. If unplugging all the appliances makes no difference to the circuits tripping, it is best to get the wiring in your home checked by an electrician.

Burning smell

A burning smell is a serious concern for any electrical component. If you notice burning rubber or plastic, you must immediately turn off the power supply and get the issue checked by a professional.

It is plausible that the smell is from the plastic insulation of the wiring, but it can often be a precursor to an electrical fire. Most electricians consider a burning smell as a warning sign as most electrical fires are usually undetectable and odourless.

Regardless, if you smell anything unusual near your electrical installations, call a professional electrician straight away!


Occasional sparking may not be an issue, especially if it is caused by human error. Sometimes you might not fully insert a plug into the socket, in which case, the current may jump from the exposed part of the plug and cause a shock.

The easy remedy for this is to simply push the plug all the way into the socket. However, if the sparking continues even after properly inserting the plug, then you will need to call in for help.

Sparking is a serious issue that must never be taken lightly. If you notice sparks flying from your fuse box or consumer unit, it is a sign of an electrical fault that needs to be inspected by an electrician.

Shocks and electrocution

In installations conducted using best practices, shocks and electrocutions can be very rare. However, in the case of deterioration or damage, these shocks can become quite common.

Shocks can occur due to a damaged switch, socket, or even an electrical appliance attached to it. To determine the exact cause of the shock, you can remove and plug in another appliance to confirm that the problem isn’t with the appliance but with the socket itself.

Dimming or flickering lights

Dimming and flickering of the lights aren’t just common in scary movies! They can also happen in real life due to a fault in the lights or the sockets they are connected to.

A single light dimming or flickering is not a big issue as it usually means there is a problem with a particular light bulb.

But if it happens with more than one light, the issue mostly lies in faulty wiring or an overloaded circuit. Make sure you call in a certified electrician from Calder Electrical before calling the Ghostbusters!

Damaged or exposed wiring

Wires, cables, switches, and sockets, like all other electrical installations, have a limited lifespan and start showing signs of deterioration with time.

This could lead to any of the above-mentioned problems and cause serious faults in your home electrics. Damaged or exposed wiring is extremely unsafe and can lead to fires and electric shocks. If you live in an old house and notice any electrical faults, it is a good idea to have the electrics checked and the entire property rewired with new installations.


As recommended in the British Standard wiring regulations, electrical installations need maintenance and servicing regularly to make sure they keep working as they should.

The main purpose of electrical testing is to ensure that your home’s electrical wiring is safe, and functioning to its full capacity and that all the appliances in your home can continue to run without any issues.

According to the wiring regulations BS 7671, every domestic property’s electrical installations must be regularly inspected and tested every 5 to 10 years to rule out any defective electrical work and safety hazards.

If you are a landlord renting out your home to someone, it is your responsibility to get the electrics tested every 5 years, or whenever there is a change in occupancy, to make sure they are safe to use by your tenants.

The inspection begins with a visual check of all the electrical components in the home. This inspection can be done either by the property owner or a certified electrician. However, there are differences between each inspection.

The visual test conducted by a property owner is very superficial. For example, a homeowner may simply look for warning signs and miss other important signs of damage. This is why a certified electrician, like the ones from Calder Electrical, is specially trained to perform thorough visual inspections that can highlight deep-rooted electrical issues.

The certified electrician will take notes of all the visual anomalies in the home and a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) will be created to provide an overall general summary of the health of the electrical system.

For more thorough testing, we have the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).

The Electrical Installation Condition Report is a comprehensive test that thoroughly checks all the fixed wiring of your home and establishes whether it is safe to use and compliant with the current regulations.

It includes checking the electrical system, such as the wiring, consumer unit, earthing and bonding, and all the other areas that could pose a potential safety risk.

During an EICR check, a trained electrician visits your home, makes a visual assessment of the house electrics, and then proceeds to carry out a series of tests on the electrical system.


Just like EICR testing is for sockets, PAT testing is for the appliances connected to the sockets!

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is an essential tool to figure out the electrical problems in appliances. This test can help differentiate between the faults caused in the electrical system and the faults caused by the appliance itself.

PAT testing involves the testing of all electrical appliances that are not fixed, or in other words, are portable. They include microwaves, toasters, coffee machines, kettles, televisions, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, computers, printers, lamps, stereos, and portable heaters.

The frequency for PAT testing varies between 3 to 12 months and depends on several factors such as the age of the equipment, how often it is used, or if it has been misused, altered, or repaired in the past.


The wiring in your home can be compared to the blood vessels in the human body. Just as blood is supplied to the body through blood vessels, wiring is responsible for delivering and maintaining the current passed through it. Any fault in the wiring can cause slight to significant problems. However, leaving even small wiring problems unchecked can eventually lead to more serious issues down the road!

Wiring is, as you might have guessed, subject to general wear and tear over prolonged use and may begin to show signs of faults, especially with the high demand for electricity in modern homes. This is where the fixed wiring tests come in.

This test is performed according to British Standards and provides a comprehensive look at the overall wiring system on the property. Once the initial test is finished, the rewiring stage can begin!

Electrical rewiring involves replacing all of the wiring and upgrading the consumer unit. The rewiring process is broken down into 2 stages:

  • First fix – the cables, wiring, and circuits are replaced, and
  • Second fix – the fittings and switches are installed to prepare the system.

Rewiring also gives you the chance to upgrade your existing wiring to smart wiring. Robust and up-to-date smart wiring allows you to enjoy great home automation features with efficient operation and incredible cost savings.


Every residential property has a source where all the power in the home passes through from the main power grid. This source is referred to as the main consumer unit. A consumer unit is an electrical component that controls and monitors the electricity running through your property.

The type, health, and overall quality of the consumer unit have a significant impact on the overall power supply in a residential property.

For example, if you have an outdated version or one that is not fit for your needs, you will notice quite a few of the common faults like circuit breaker tripping, power surges, light flickering, load imbalances, excess heat generation, and the worst: electrical fires.

The solution is to install a new consumer unit that is safer and better suited to your needs. There are several types of consumer units that you can choose from depending on the size of your home and your energy consumption.

Of course, this installation must only be performed by a highly trained and skilled electrician who specialises in consumer unit replacement for residential spaces. Calder Electrical provides certified electricians who can not only install consumer units but also help you pick the right one depending on your needs.


We have been providing electrical services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties for over 40 years and are specialists in all aspects of electrical installations, maintenance, and testing.

All our work is fully insured, and we work to meet the standards set by the NICEIC to make sure all your electrical installations meet the current regulations, and all the notifiable work is signed off by the local authorities.

If you have unplanned issues within your home or business, we can provide a call-out service to rectify and solve any problems such as circuit 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.

Contact us here or call us at 0800 612 3001 to get in touch with our professional electricians for more information on common electrical hazards and how electrical testing can help avoid them.

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