Inspection and Testing, Newcastle Upon Tyne
All electrical installations deteriorate with age and use. They should therefore be inspected and tested at appropriate intervals to check whether they are in a satisfactory condition for continued service. Such safety checks are commonly referred to as ‘periodic inspection and testing’.
A periodic inspection will:
- Reveal if any of your electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded.
- Find any potential electric shock risks and fire hazards.
- Identify any defective electrical work.
- Highlight any lack of earthing or bonding.
Tests are also carried out on wiring and fixed electrical equipment to check that they are safe. A schedule of circuits is also provided, which is invaluable for a property.
Other times when a periodic inspection should be carried out are:
- When a property is being prepared for letting.
- Before selling a property or buying a previously-occupied property
Who should carry out the periodic inspection and what happens?
Periodic inspection and testing should be carried out only by electrically competent persons, such as registered electricians. They will check the condition of the electrics against the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671 – Requirements for Electrical Installations (IEE Wiring Regulations).
The inspection takes into account all the relevant circumstances and checks on:
- The adequacy of earthing and bonding.
- The suitability of the switchgear and control gear. For example, an old fusebox with a wooden back, cast-iron switches, or a mixture of both will need replacing.
- The serviceability of switches, sockets and lighting fittings. Items that may need replacing include: older round-pin sockets, round light switches, cables with fabric coating hanging from ceiling roses to light fittings, black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards.
- The type of wiring system and its condition. For example, cables coated in black rubber were phased out in the 1960s. Likewise cables coated in lead or fabric are even older and may well need replacing (modern cables use longer-lasting pvc insulation)
- Sockets that may be used to supply portable electrical equipment for use outdoors, making sure they are protected by a suitable residual current device (RCD).
- The presence of adequate identification and notices.
- The extent of any wear and tear, damage or other deterioration.
- Any changes in the use of the premises that have led to, or may lead to, unsafe conditions.
- The competent person will then issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report detailing any observed damage, deterioration, defects, dangerous conditions and any non-compliances with the present-day safety standard that might give rise to danger.If any dangerous or potentially dangerous condition or conditions are found, the overall condition of the electrical installation will be declared to be ‘unsatisfactory’, meaning that remedial action is required without delay to remove the risks to those in the premises.
Regulation 134.1.1 of BS 7671:2008 states:
Good workmanship by competent persons or persons under their supervision and proper materials shall be used in the erection of the electrical installation. Electrical equipment shall be installed in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the equipment.
The first sentence of that regulation (see above) is essential if we are going to install a safe installation, a competent person must install it or be supervised by someone who is, and proper materials must be used. However let’s look at the second sentence, do we install to the manufacturer’s instructions, do we actually read them? Many electricians I have talked to remove the item they are going to install from the box (if it came in one) and throw away the instructions; especially when it comes to installing consumer units and switchgear.
I have carried out some research on different manufacturers instructions on consumer units and switchgear with regard to the tightening of the terminations. They all give explicit instructions as to the tightness of the main connections and individual MCB and RCD terminals. To my surprise they vary quite considerably so it’s vitally important that you read the instructions.
So what are we talking about, quite simply, is torque settings measured in Newton Meters (Nm).
A termination that is too loose can lead to arcing and hotspots, too tight and you risk damaging the component, as one manufacturer said to me we get many components returned with a deformed terminal cage cause by over tightening.
So you will be pleased to know that all the terminals are to correct specification .