Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Will Sparks Fly in your Home this Halloween?

In just over a week it will be Halloween! Yes really – where on earth has the year gone? It doesn't seem so long ago we were discussing sun cream and BBQ's in the office! Now Halloween is a particularly spooky time of year and the celebration is either something you like or hate (a bit like Marmite!)

Whether you are the type to turn the lights off and hide or embrace the celebration by turning off the lights and lighting up carved out pumpkins, Halloween should be a little fun perhaps with just a touch of jumpiness added!

Hidden surprises

Halloween is also a good time of year to touch upon the hidden dangers of unsafe electrical appliances. You see, rather like Halloween, the element of surprise can make you a little jumpy. However unsafe electrical appliances are very much reality and can cause serious electrical injury or even death – that's quite a sobering thought even by Halloween standards.

The UK's leading electrical safety charity, Electrical Safety First has teamed up with digital agency Code Computerlove who have created a Halloween themed spooky game that highlights the problems that unsafe electrical appliances can create. Complete with spooky music, this is a great game to play which gives you just 30 seconds to find all the electrical dangers in the room.

Is there a killer lurking in your home?

In true Halloween style, the aim of the game is to find the killer in your home before it finds you! From old electrical appliances to electrical items under product recall, this game highlights how an innocent looking kettle could lead to electrical injury or electrical fire if it was being used whilst under a product recall.

With product recalls having on average a 20% success rate, this leaves an awful lot of potentially fatal appliances still in use in peoples homes. Items under product recall can bite back when least expected – not only can the appliance develop serious faults, the results can often cause expensive damage to your home electrics. As electricians in South East London we have unfortunately been to many jobs where fault appliances have caused damage to wiring inside walls not to mention irrepairable damage to sockets, wall paper, and the like.

Many people do not know their product was under a product recall, however there are people who are aware and continue to use the product due to the inconvenience of exchanging it. Never take the risk with an electrical appliance under product recall. It is not worth the danger to you, your loved ones and your home.

What should you do to avoid the lurking killer in your home?

It is a good idea to check that none of your electrical appliances are under product recall. This can be done easily by checking the product recall section on the Electrical Safety First website. All types of products can be affected regardless of price or brand.

Beware of using old electrical items that may not be electrically safe or electrical appliances which have bare wires coming from the plug. Both of these products should not be used.

Should an electrical appliance develop a fault or you suspect it is malfunctioning, unplug it immediately and do not use it. It is all too easy to take a chance on an electrical item but not worth the risk to your life or risk a serious injury.

Have fun this Halloween but don't forget to check your electrical appliances first to avoid any 'real' bumps in the night. :)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Have you tested your smoke alarm recently?

Once again we find it is Tuesday and for the most of us it is just another day in the office. However, there is one amazing thing you can do today that could save the life of you, your family or a loved one and it will only take seconds out of your day!

Press the button!

You've got it! Yes testing every smoke alarm in your home is imperative to ensure it will work in the event of a real fire. It is only when you need them the most that you will rely on them to keep you safe.

October is a key month to be testing your smoke alarm – this is because many people switch on their heating this month. Households which have electric heaters will be alerted to a problem very quickly with a working smoke alarm – as we found in the office here at Fulcher Edwards this week when we switched on the heating! The dust that had built up in there over the Summer months activated the smoke alarm even though there was no visible problem from the heater. It was good peace of mind to know that we were alerted to a potential problem when otherwise our backs would have been turned!

It is so easy for small items to find their way through the vents of electrical heaters – small children can 'post' tiny objects through the gaps and even general dust – especially if the heater has not been used for some time can cause burning or even fire if the build up is great.

Important information for tenants

If you rent your home, it is now a legal requirement for landlords to supply and fit a working smoke alarm on every floor of your property. This law was enforced on the 1st October 2015 in an effort to reduce the number of tenants injured or killed as a result of house fire after research revealed that tenants in the private housing sector were much more likely to die in a house fire when compared to other housing sectors such as home owners or local authority housing.

Landlords should also supply each of their properties with a working CO detector in houses where appliances which could leak carbon monoxide are located. Such appliances include gas boilers, open fires and any solid fuel appliance such as a log burner.

It still remains the tenants responsibility to ensure the alarms continue to work by testing them regularly – ideally every week.

Testing your smoke alarm effectively

People who don't test their alarm regularly tend to rely on 'near misses' such as burnt toast and smoky ovens. However, for a smoke alarm to be relied on fully, it needs to be tested weekly by pressing the T or Test button which is indicated on the smoke alarm itself. Holding the button in for a couple of seconds will emit a high pitched beep so you know it is working.

If you can't reach your smoke alarm, using the end of a broom handle or other long object will be fine. Try to avoid standing on chairs or other furnishings as this could be dangerous. Always test from ground level.

All smoke alarms whether battery or mains powered need to be tested weekly to ensure they are working correctly.

What should you do if your alarm is not working properly or at all

As fire alarm specialists in South East London, we install and maintain fire alarm systems in homes and businesses in and around London. For the ultimate reliability, it is a good choice to have mains powered smoke alarms fitted in your property. This means you will not be relying on battery power alone to stay protected against house fire.

However any smoke alarm is better than no smoke alarm and most battery alarms now have a life expectancy of up to 10 years.

If you press the test button and the alarm emits no sound you need to take action asap. If your alarm is mains powered, contact a fire alarm specialist or your local electrician who can investigate and put right the problem. Never try to attempt to repair a mains powered smoke alarm yourself.

For battery alarms, it may be that the battery needs replacing. If the fire alarms come as all it one sealed units then the whole fire alarm will need replacing. All in one fire alarm units are now very common as it prevents the batteries from being removed intentionally and not being replaced.  

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Why Use an NICEIC Registered Electrician?

Here at Fulcher Edwards, we find that the majority of our customers don't understand what Part P registered actually means. However most customers have heard of the NICEIC and feel these 'letters' mean something good and they should look for them when searching for an electrician.

Whilst the true meaning of what the NICEIC does or means never means very much to the general public in 90% of cases, it is actually known for being a mark of quality and a safe, high standard of workmanship will be achieved by the registered electrician. This is huge peace of mind for customers who struggle to find the right electrician and cannot be expected to understand the meaning of the Part P building regulation.

Why are we NICEIC registered electricians at Fulcher Edwards?

So why have we always been and always will be NICEIC Registered electricians? Quite simply, it is for our customers peace of mind, not just for the fact they recognise the NICEIC as a mark of quality but also for our belief in each and every job being carried out to the same high standard and ensuring customer satisfaction at the end.

The reason why Fulcher Edwards was set up back in 1981 was to fill a huge gaping hole in the domestic market. As electricians with several years experience it frustrated us to see the lack of care and attention to electrical work being carried out in peoples homes. It is our goal to provide a comprehensive electrical service that is friendly, efficient and geared towards helping home owners and small businesses in Waterloo, South East London and all areas within the M25.

Why use an NICEIC registered electrician?

Another great reason why we would always advise using an electrician who is registered with the NICEIC is that the electrical inspections are thorough, stringent and really test out electrical knowledge. If you use an NICEIC registered electrician, you will be sure of a safe standard of work from a person who has genuine pride in their work.

Another good reason is the customer protection you will receive as a customer. All electrical work we do carries a 6 year warranty which is all backed by the NICEIC.

Quality workmanship and a friendly manner are all part of the service here at Fulcher Edwards.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A Shocking Tale of Bad Electrics

Last week one of our electricians went to visit a property where the owner had reported buzzing coming from some sockets. When we arrived at the property we found a number of potentially dangerous uses of electricity.

The property had not had any electrical work carried out recently, but was in dire need of attention! We have taken some photos so you can see for yourself what kind of problems we saw. If you have any of this going on in your home, you need to contact your local qualified and registered electrician.

As electricians in South London, we do see each of these scenarios on a regular basis in peoples homes, but in this one flat, there were a lot of dangerous electrics!

The Gallery of crack fizzle and pop!

The 2 wires in one cooker socket!

This is a no no! Here the house holder wired in a double socket which was being fed from the cooker socket. The double socket was being used for a kettle.

Daisy chaining

There was multiple use of daisy chaining throughout the flat – this is where extension leads are plugged into extension leads. In the living room, 2 extension leads were in use and in a bedroom, an extension lead was being fed from a plug adapter which was sat next to a bed!

Loose socket on the wall

In the hallway, there was a loose double socket fitted incorrectly which was used for jobs such as hoovering and charging a motorbike battery via extension cable!

Heater in bathroom

An electric heater was located in the bathroom underneath the wash hand basin. This is of course very dangerous as water could easily get into the heater causing electrical shock or injury.

No smoke alarms

The flat also had inadequate smoke alarm protection. A couple of battery fire alarms had recently been purchased but unfortunately had only been fixed to the ceiling with double sided sticky tape so after a week or so they had fallen from the ceiling and were now being 'stored' in the living room amongst paperwork.

In addition, some of the extension leads being used were of an old variety consisting of metal sockets in a row. This type of extension lead is not recommended and should be upgraded to a new bar extension lead.

What to do if you have something similar

Dangerous electrics can cause electrical shock, injury or worse. They are also a huge fire risk. If you find yourself over reliant on extension leads, it makes sense to ask an electrician to fit some extra sockets where they're most needed. It is important to not daisy chain extension leads as this overloads the socket which is feeding them which could lead to house fire or electrical damage.

Never use electrical sockets that are loose or damaged. You never know when they could cause a nasty electrical injury.

Never have any form of electric heating in a bathroom near to sources of water this is very dangerous and an electrical accident could easily occur.

Most of the bad electric situations above can be easily rectified by the house holder making small changes. It is important to use electricity wisely and never take risk or chances.

Always make sure that the electrician you use is both qualified to do the job and registered before you begin.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Blade Danger Warning issued on Kenwood Mixer

It feels very Autumnal here at Fulcher Edwards this morning. If you feel like any of us do here in the office, you might be starting to think about cooking up some good old 'comfort food' for dinner tonight. Inevitably that means slow cookers, blenders, slicers and the like making an appearance. Before you start switching them on though, it is worth checking that they're still safe to use.

Stay safe when using electrical products

If you haven't used your electrical items in a while – perhaps they've been stored away in a cupboard over the last few months – then it is worth checking that there is no electrical damage before plugging them in. Is is easy to accidentally damage cable by storing items against it for example. Check the cable for damage and to ensure to bare wires are visible as this could cause electrical shock and injury if you were to use the item.

The plug should also be firmly attached with no damage visible. If you can see the inside of the plug or there are cracks on the casing then again, this is an electrical safety danger and you should not use the product unless it is repaired.

Should I repair or replace damaged items?

As electricians in South East London, we often see risks being taken with electrical appliances. This is often because of accidental misuse such as the overloading of extension leads or makeshift repairs on cables using PVC tape. Both of these can cause problems with the item. If other damage is found, never take a risk by using it, if the electrical item is of low value, it will be cheaper to replace it – however if your item is high value, then it will be worth getting it repaired. Electrical items should only be repaired by authorised repair personnel or a qualified and registered electrician.

Electrical items are less likely to go wrong if you have them serviced and keep them clean and free of dust. Using them in accordance with manufacturers instructions ensures the products are being used for their intended purpose.

Owners of Kenwood blenders beware!

If you have a Kenwood Blend-X Pro BLM80 then you need to take action as Kenwood have voluntarily recalled this model due to the risk of the blades breaking when the product is in use. Not only could this cause a nasty laceration injury or even risk of the broken blade being ingested, it could also put the user in electrical danger too.

If you think you are affected, you need to visit a safety notice web-page set up by Kenwood to identify if your blender is affected and needs corrective action.

Items under a possible recall should not be used until they have been checked by by the manufacturer.

Other problems with electrical appliances

If you have electrical items that stop working for no reason and you are using them safely, it may be worth having an electrical safety inspection carried out in your home. This is known as an EICR and will identify any problems that are present in your home electrical system. We carried out an EICR for a customer last week when his hoover stopped working. It was found that there was unsafe wiring in the hallway where the hoover had been plugged in. Without an EICR, this problem would have got worse and more costly to repair.

It is never worth chancing with electricity – it rarely pays off! :)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Do you charge your phone safely?

A mistake that perhaps many of us are guilty of making is the way we charge our phones. Phone batteries are known for going flat at the most annoying of times. The most sensible way to charge a phone is on a worktop away from wet areas or soft furnishings. However this can also mean that you might miss an important phone call or can't continue with that live chat in comfort!

Inadvertently this can lead to dangerous methods of phone charging which leaves the phone at risk of overheating and fire. A recent fire in London was caused by the householder charging their phone under a pillow. Whilst this situation could easily be rectified, we reckon that lots of people are guilty of phone charging under their pillow without realising how dangerous this could be.

When phone charging can become dangerous

As electricians in South East London we are seeing increasing electrical jobs where we are repairing electrical damage caused by using the wrong type of charger when charging items such as smartphones. Typically this is when universal chargers are being used which re not compatible with the type of phone being charged.

When the wrong charger is used, it can cause expensive damage to the phone itself and your home electrics. It can even start a house fire or explode leaving you with serious burns. The socket quickly overheats and damages the wiring within the wall. This is why as one of the leading electrical companies in London we do not recommend the use of universal chargers for any electrical device.

Charge your phone on a hard surface

Charging using a genuine phone charger is safe so long as the manufacturers instructions are followed. However this doesn't rule out an electrical fault developing which could still result in fire. This is why it is important that you charge your phone in a sensible location at all times. If the worst does happen and a fire occurs when charging, the fire is unlikely to spread as quickly if the phone is situated on a hard surface such as a table top. Soft furnishings such as bedding, cushions, and rugs can often act as fuel to the fire which can quickly spread to other areas including wiring inside walls.

The phone in the photo shows the devastation that can be caused by something as simple as leaving your phone charging in an inappropriate place!

If you suspect electrical damage has been caused by using an incorrect charger, please contact a qualified and registered electrician as soon as possible.  

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

How to ensure your student accommodation will be electrically safe

Electricalsafety can range from niggly problems such as the electric tripping just as you're about to save your work to serious electrical issues that could cause electrical injury or even death.

Making the best start on university housing

It will soon become apparent that there is a problem with your student housing. The unfortunate reality is that once you have signed the tenancy agreement, it will become a lot more difficult to rectify the issue in the future. It is far easier to be aware of potential pitfalls before making the final decision on which housing to opt for.

What to look out for

Dangerous electrics at best can be a menace. In the worst instance it can kill. When viewing the property there are often tell tale signs that the electrics are not in the best of conditions. An over reliance of extension leads is a tell tale sign that there are not enough electric sockets in the rooms concerned. Too few sockets is a sign of dated electrics and there could well be other problems. Pay attention to how the current tenants are living and the condition of the other electric fittings such as switches and sockets. Signs of discolouration, metal backed sockets and broken fittings are all signs that the electrics need some attention.

An over reliance of extension leads can cause overheating and house fire. It is real not worth risking your equipment and essentially your life on a property with outdated electrics which could be dangerous.

How safe might the electrics be?

With electricity, everything is neatly hidden away. Therefore it is tricky to see if there is a problem with electrics that otherwise look good. The only way of knowing is for a qualified and registered electrician carrying out an electrical safety inspection of the property electrics. This is known as an EICR. If the property is satisfactory then a certificate is issued to confirm this. It is important that as the tenant you ask to view this certificate.

The recommendations are for landlords to carry out an EICR every 5 years or with every change of tenant. Although it is not the law to have an EICR carried out, landlords must still show how they ensure the electrical safety of their tenants. Most reputable landlords carry out an EICR on their property.

What about electrical appliances supplied at the property?

Whilst it can be quite handy to have a washing machine and fridge freezer ready to use in your property, it is important that the appliances are actually safe to use. Faulty or dangerous appliances can cause fire or electric shock. Landlords who supply electrical equipment should have the equipment PAT tested regularly to ensure that the equipment remains safe to use.

Always ask to see the EICR certificate and evidence of PAT testing before signing the tenancy agreement.

Electricity can and does kill – 7 people every week are killed by electricity and electricity injures thousands more. Ensuring that your property will be electrically safe is the best thing you can do prior to moving into your student property.