Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Dangers of DIY Electrical Work

DIY Electrical work again hits the headlines this week as the results of an electrical survey carried out by the NICEIC were published.

DIY electrical work is on the increase as more households seek to save money and in many cases the householder is simply trying to 'make do and mend' by attempting to fix a problem with their home electrical system. However there are also increasing numbers of householders who knowingly carry out quite extensive DIY electrical projects in their home without realising they are putting their family and home at risk.

The statistics of deaths and injuries in the UK arising from unsafe home electrics are scary. Every year in the UK there are 12,500 house fires, 750 serious injuries and 10 deaths. At Fulcher Edwards London electricians we are often called to homes where unsafe electrical work has been carried out and the remedial work that is often required to put the job right is more expensive than if they had called us out to the job in the first place. We also hear of people who think it is normal to get an electric shock now and then in their homes. It all very frightening as the results of the survey reveal that 63% of British householders are happy to have a go at repairing home electrics rather than employ a qualified electrician.

When asked what type of work they would carry out in their home, 28% would go so far as to install new garden lighting. This is worrying as particular care has to be taken when installing garden lighting as the installation will be subjected to damp and wet conditions. 3 in 10 (29%) people would add a new light switch and 35% would change a socket.

Furthermore the survey reveals that billions of pounds of home improvements are carried out every year which break planning and building restrictions. When asked about Part P, many don't realise that the work they are carrying out requires Part P certification and the absence of a Part P certificate could cause problems in the future should they wish to sell their home. Most importantly, a Part P certificate also means the electrical installation has been tested to ensure it is 100% safe and no dangerous faults are present as well as carry a warranty.

It goes without saying that without a Part P certificate, the condition of the electrical installation is unknown. An alternative to using a qualified electrician is to have your electrical work inspected by the planning and building department at your local authority who will issue a Part P certificate if the works are satisfactory. This is a great alternative if you are very confident about the standard of your electrical work. However it is far more expensive to use this method if the work does not pass.

At Fulcher Edwards, the safety of our many customers across London is of paramount importance. Of course we appreciate that the unexpected cost of calling upon the services of a qualified electrician can seem like the expensive option, however the peace of mind that your home is safe and there are no further damage or problems is money well spent.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Should Electrical Installation Condition Reports become Compulsory?

This week has seen a request made from a retired landlord in Liverpool to the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) asking them to lobby governmental ministers to make electrical safety inspections and certificates mandatory.

Currently, it is only a recommendation that landlords carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) every 5 years or change of occupancy, whichever is the sooner. However, a landlord has to prove how they ensured the electrical safety of their tenant should an electrical incident take place on the property. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that a landlord is responsible “to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas and electricity......”

All reputable landlords have an EICR carried out at their properties. It is the only documented proof that they have done everything possible to ensure their tenants safety and well being. However, as always, it is a minority of landlords that don't follow the recommendations. The majority of landlords take their business and reputation seriously and therefore view the safety of their tenants of being of paramount importance.

At Fulcher Edwards, we work with many landlords in London ensuring that electrical testing is carried with the minimum of disruption and we offer special rates for 2 or more properties that require electrical testing.

In 2012, the Electrical Safety Council wanted to see EICR reports being considered as important as Gas Safety Regulations saying that the current electrical 'voluntary' system isn't working. The Liverpool Echo receives reports on a regular basis of tenants receiving severe injuries because of defective or poorly fitted electrical fittings and appliances. On course these exact issues are also reported in London and we at Fulcher Edwards agree that this problem needs to be addressed.

Retired landlord, Richard Globe wants to see landlords, including landlords of student accommodation being made to carry out yearly checks and inspections of all supplied electrical appliances, fittings and wiring conditions. This could see landlords having an EICR report carried out as often as every 6 months.

At Fulcher Edwards, we would welcome a move to make electrical certificates a legal requirement on par with Gas Safety Regulations and a clamp down on those few landlords who repeatedly refuse to not comply with regulations and who show little or no regard to the electrical safety of their tenants.