When you need help, let the professionals take the lead
According to Electrical Safety First, the leading charity campaigning on electrical safety matters, almost half of electric shocks described as severe are the result of DIY errors.
That is why we advise getting a contractor to help with any electrical installation job. It is a requirement for certain types of electrical work.
Here are some scenarios when you might want to consider getting a trusted NICEIC contractor to get you out of a bind or help with a larger project.
I have an issue with my electrics - what should I do?
We know what it is like… something happens with your electrics, and you need it fixed asap.
Common faults include:
- fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping
- burn marks on plugs and sockets
- sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling).
You may consider investigating it yourself but remember, any electrical work can potentially be dangerous for the person undertaking it and for the property where it is located.
So, we would recommend that you contact a NICEIC registered electrician to take a look.
How often should I get my electrics checked?
NICEIC recommends :
Once a year: carry out a visual check of your home:
This might include:
- checking that you have RCD protection in your fuse-box (consumer unit)
- ensuring that light switches, plugs and sockets are not damaged
- checking that visible cables and leads are in good condition
- checking that your light fittings are not visibly damaged and that downlighters are in good working condition
- checking that you are not storing combustible materials around your fuse-box, electricity meter or electrical intake.
Every ten years: get an approved contractor to undertake an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) sometimes called a Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) .
Just because your wiring’s old, it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. But getting it checked is always a good idea.
If you have previously had any electrical work done or if you’ve had your electrical installation checked before, then review the paperwork you were given, as there should be a recommendation for when your installation should be next inspected and tested.
When do I need a rewire?
There are no set guidelines as to when a property should be rewired. Just because your wiring’s old, it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. Many factors can affect the wear and tear of your electrical installation, including the materials used, how your property has been used and how well it has been maintained.
Nevertheless NICEIC advises that an inspection and test (called a Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) or Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)) is carried out on owner-occupied properties at least every 10 years.
You should carry out regular checks around the house on the condition of your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories. If you notice anything unusual - for example, burn marks on plugs and sockets, sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping - get a NICEIC registered electrician to check your electrics as soon as possible.
I am a landlord or letting agent - when do I need to use a registered tradesperson?
By law, all private tenancies in England, Scotland and Wales must have an electrical safety check in place. While they are currently not mandatory in Northern Ireland, they are strongly recommended by NICEIC, Electrical Safety First and the wider industry.
While the legal rules vary depending on where in the UK your properties are situated, the core requirements are consistent. As a private landlord, you must:
- get your property electrics checked at least every five years
- use a competent contractor, to carry out an EICR
- ensure the electrics meet the required standards
- provide your tenant(s) with evidence of the EICR before the start of the tenancy.
Depending on the outcome of the EICR, additional work may be required to bring the installation up to the required standard. These are indicated by observation codes recorded on the EICR:
|Danger present. Risk of injury. Immediate remedial action required.||Potentially dangerous - urgent remedial action required.||Further investigation required without delay.||Observations are a recommended improvement.|
Be warned. Failure to undertake an EICR or comply with the recommendations detailed in the report could result in a fine of up to £30,000. Should the work be incomplete or unsafe as a result of your negligence, the local authority is also entitled to get involved to put the work right, with the charge then passed on to you. So don’t get caught out!
Where any electrical defects, repairs or maintenance are identified, we would always recommend using an electrical contractor certified with a government approved Part P scheme, such as a NICEIC Domestic Installer (in England and Wales) or Building Standard System (in Scotland).
What regulations affect electrical work?
The electrical installation work is governed by industry standards and a legal framework.
Industry standards are voluntary codes of rules written by the industry to which they apply and approved by a nationally recognised body. They are aimed at simplifying the terminology, processes and procedures used in that particular industry.
Standards (whether International, European or British) do not form part of law, nor are they legally enforceable, except where they form part of a contract. In a contract, the relevant standards are normally stated as the standard of work required to fulfil the contract.
However, some standards are given an elevated status when referred to either directly or indirectly in statutes. The most significant example of this for the electrical industry is British Standard 7671 which is referred to indirectly in the Electricity at Work (1989) Regulations (via the HS(R)25 document) and directly in the Approved Document for Part P of the Building Regulations. Being referred to directly or indirectly in legislation gives the standards a pseudo legal status.
As well as industry standards, electrical contractors are subject to a number of statutory regulations covering health and safety, safe working practices and management of electrical supply and products. In addition to legislation, contractors are also bound by their duties and responsibilities under contract law. Key legal requirements for electrical work are outlined in:
- the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 - these regulations have far reaching implications for all employers. They impose a duty of care on employers to manage their electrical systems and products so as not to cause death or injury to others. The regulations cover the design, construction, operation and maintenance of these systems.
- the Building Act 1984 & 2000: The Building Regulations - stem from the main Act of Parliament, the Building Act 1984. The Building Regulations exist to promote standards for most aspects of a building's construction, including its structure, fire safety, sound insulation, drainage, ventilation and electrical safety.
To ensure that the electrical work you are having done is compliant, use a registered contractor. You can find one through our find a trusted tradesperson search facility.