Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Be Careful Who You Let Into Your Home

With Summer just round the corner thoughts are turning to home improvements and the sun always seems to make areas that need attention seem so much worse!

Our blog today is to tell you about an important message that could effect all householders and the message is fairly simple. Be careful who you let into your home. We're talking here about tradespeople who carry out work in your home. It may seem obvious not to let someone you don't know into your home but unscrupulous tradespeople have a habit of conning people into having work carried out without giving the householder a chance to carry out vital checks beforehand.

Unfortunately these tradesmen are out touting for business door to door and can spot as easily as you can that certain works need to be done – its a good ploy they use to make out that your home is extremely dangerous and this can of course put huge pressure on a householder to sign up to the work on the spot only to discover later it was a huge mistake. Our tip from here at Fulcher Edwards is not to fall for this trick. Even if work needs to be carried out urgently on your property, there won't be anything that cannot wait until you are satisfied that you are have found the right person to do the work.

Last week in our blog we spoke about how to spot a good electrician. Always use this method when selecting anyone to do work in your home. There is no guarantee what so ever that the person who knocks on your door out of the blue is even a trades person. We have all heard stories of people who have had shoddy and dangerous work carried out in their home and have been tempted by a very low price and being able to have the work done then and there. A reputable trades person will never pressure you into signing up for work and you are highly unlikely to find them touting door to door for business.

So why are we telling you this now? Well the instances of unscrupulous tradespeople trading door to door is on the rise again following the introduction of Green Deal. All work carried out under the Green Deal must be carried out by Green Deal registered installers – don't be caught out. Always ensure that you carry out all the necessary checks beforehand and if you have any doubts, walk away. The other issue that seems to be cropping up more is the facts that Green Deal installers are able to carry out other works which the householder can pay separately for.

It is important that the right people are used for the right job. Always check qualifications, and don't fall into the temptation of using a trades person for every job you need doing. A common example of this is when having kitchens and bathrooms fitted. Always ensure that if someone tells you they can do a job, they are qualified to to it. We have seen many examples of poor electrical work carried out in kitchens and bathrooms and when we've spoken to the householder they hadn't realised that the person who fitted their kitchen wasn't qualified in electrics and have left their kitchen in a dangerous condition. This is happening more following the introduction of Green Deal where the householder is paying separately for additional jobs without checking qualifications and even standards of work.

Trustmark, the government approved scheme that endorses the standards that tradespeople work to have recommended that all home improvements are carried out by Trustmark registered installers. Here at Fulcher Edwards Electricians, we are proud to be associated with Trustmark and our customers in and around London can be confident they are using electricians assessed against exacting standards.

It can be so tempting to adapt the approach of a 'one stop shop' we all enjoy the convenience factor after all. Remember there are unscrupulous people out there who prey on that very fact. Resist the temptation and opt for the best.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

How to find a good electrician

Being an electrician is so much more than carrying out re-wires and fitting new sockets – although of course this is the most essential part!

Much of our time here at Fulcher Edwards is spent visiting potential clients in and around London advising and quoting electrical work. This is a very important aspect of our job and one which we enjoy doing as its a great opportunity to show our clients what we can offer and allow them to judge us on our high standards and workmanship that we proudly offer to every client we serve.

Of course a question that is in many of our customers minds is “Every electrician we see claims to be great, how do we know if you really are the electrician we should choose to use?” Its a very valid question and one which requires some consideration. After all you are allowing this person into your home and trusting them to carry out potentially dangerous electrical work. Naturally it is important that the electrician is right for the job.

We've put together some tips on how to find a good electrician. Following these simple steps will tell you whether or not you should be using their services. Always allow plenty of time to arrange quotes and don't feel pressured into accepting any particular quote. Always give quotes thought and don't be afraid to ask questions. It can prevent any misunderstanding later. We also recommend you obtain at least 3 quotes to give you a rough idea of the price range you are looking at. A competitive quote, that is a quote in the middle is generally the best guideline. Too cheap and you need to ask yourself why, likewise you don't want to pay too much without good reason.

Here are our top tips to finding a good electrician:

1. Always ensure your electrician is qualified to carry out the work and is Part P registered. A good electrician will happily show you their certification which can take the form of 17th edition electrician or domestic installer. Being Part P certified with an organisation such as the NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA means the electrician can certify their work which means less expense for you and means the work will be carried out to the right standards. Pay particular attention to when the electrician qualified – does this match with the level of experience they claim to have? It is also worth checking that the electrician is insured. This protects your home in the event of damage occurring (it is rare but can happen.)

2. Before accepting a quote, it is a good idea to see examples of work carried out previously by the electrician, ideally a similar job that you are looking to have done. A good way of doing this is by speaking to friends, family and neighbours who have had electrical work carried out. Of course high standards of workmanship are important, but also ask how good their time keeping was, whether they finished the job on time, how long it took and if they kept to the quotation price. Electricians are happy to supply references should you wish to have them and often carry a portfolio of previous work carried out.

3. When obtaining a quote, it should be presented in a professional manner, ideally printed clearly detailing all prices. It is a good idea to ask for a breakdown of all costs so you can see what is included in the costs – and importantly what isn't. This can prevent misunderstanding later on once work has commenced. You will know what is, and what isn’t included in the price you pay. This can be very helpful when looking at prices. Many cheap quotes don't include the cost of materials for example. Do the costs include VAT if applicable? Is this the full quote or are there added extras which need to be accounted for.

4. The issuing of Part P certification does vary from electrician to electrician. Theoretically, once the job is complete the electrician should leave the certificate with the property. Some electricians complete the paperwork at home and forward the certificate to the customer a few days later. The certificate incidentally belongs to the property and not the person. If the property is later sold, the certificate would be required to prove the electrical installation is safe.

5. Most electricians will specialise in a specific area of electrics. For example a domestic electrician will specialise in working in peoples homes. If you are thinking of having electrical work carried out in your home then a domestic electrician will have the specialised understanding required to carry out the job in the best way. There are also commercial and industrial electricians who carry out work for business and industry. Increasing numbers of electricians do specialise across all the sectors and certainly here at Fulcher Edwards although we work across all 3 sectors, our team of electricians specialise in a certain area, thus ensuring that the electrician that attends your job will specialise in your area. We certainly recommend consulting an electrician who specialises in the area needing the work.

A good starting point is looking on the Electrical Safety Register http://www.electricalsafetyregister.com/about.html a one stop shop to finding a local registered electrician. The electricians on here have all been assessed against rigorous technical standards. Fulcher Edwards are proud to be listed on this register which only the best electricians are featured on.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Electricity is Major Cause of UK House fires

This sobering headline should make any householder think twice about taking risks with electricity. Our blog yesterday discussed how to stay safe by using the correct fuses in plugs. Needless to say, its not just plugs that can contribute to unsafe electrical practices.

Here at FulcherEdwards we visit many homes in London who report concerns with their electricity and in many cases there have been alarming discoveries. We are thankful that we were able to rectify the electrical problem before it became a serious issue.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of our findings are the result of DIY electrical work, we mention this a lot in our blogs, however we cannot emphasise enough the potential damage to both people and property unsafe electrical work can cause. Every year in the UK electrical fires cause 50 deaths, 3000 injuries and £100 million damage to private property. Electric cookers and lighting are the biggest causes of electric fires. These shocking statistics are are taken from the Department for Communities and Local Government Fire Statistics of 2008 and certainly makes us wonder why people take such risks with electricity and put their loved ones and property at risk.

So what kind of things do we come across?

Many of the problems we find are to do with cables and wiring. Where DIY wiring has been attempted we often find the incorrect size of cable has been used leaving the householder from risk of fire, live cable and live metallic surfaces. We have seen scorched joists in lofts where cable has become so hot it is literally smouldering the surface. We have seen cable suitable for only indoor use being used outside to connect outside lights. A shower cable that was the wrong size and the shower caught fire whilst in use. A washing machine that was plugged in using an 8 Amp extension cable, it was just lucky that a fault didn't develop which would have lead to metallic areas in the kitchen becoming live.

These are the typical scenarios we at Fulcher Edwards come across on a daily basis.

So what do we recommend you do to keep your home electrically safe?

  • Have an EICR(Electrical Installation Condition Report) carried out in your home at least once every 10 years if you are a home owner. If you rent, this would be your landlords responsibility. An EICR is much like an MOT for your car, where many checks are made of your electrical system in your property and recommendations, if there are any, are given at the end of the report.

  • Check your sockets regularly. If you find any scorch marks, burning smells or buzzing/fizzing noises when they are in use, stop using them and consult a Part P registered electrician.
  • Have additional sockets installed if you are finding you are relying more on the use of extension leads and certainly high powered items such as kettles, toasters and washing machines should have their own socket.

  • Turn off all electrical appliances when not in use, particularly when you go to bed.

  • Check cable flexes to all electrical appliances before you plug them in. Check the plug is on securely and there is no wear and tear to the cable. Don't use if the cable is damaged.

Fulcher Edwards London electricians specialise in fire safety and provide advice to many home owners, landlords and business owners across London. By taking simple precautions on the use of electrical appliances in your home, you will reduce the risk of an electrical fire occurring.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Are you Confident in Re-Wiring a Plug?

If you are, you are amongst the 8% of people in the UK who can carry out this task which was once taken for granted. Over 90% of 18-25 year olds in the UK cannot re-wire a plug with confidence according to a survey conducted by the website Net Voucher Codes.

With Easter now well and truly out of the way and schools have all returned following the Easter break, we can now all sit back and reflect how we spent our Easter break. Easter is a traditional time for tackling DIY projects so this survey was carried out at a time when people are most likely to be undertaking some form of DIY in their homes.

So, with the 8% figure in mind, of those who can re-wire a plug, it still alarms us that the statistics for those who will undertake DIY electrical work in their homes does not reflect the findings of this survey. Mind you, it may come as no surprise to learn that our electricians here at Fulcher Edwards often comes across paper clips, foil and even coat hangers to replace fuses in plugs. Of course this is a very dangerous practice as if the appliance connected to the plug develops a fault, then the power will not be cut which in the worst case could cause death and has the potential to cause huge and costly damage to your electrical system. We have also seen similar objects used to replace fuse wires on old fuse boards which again is very dangerous.

It is also worth reminding the readers of our blog to only use a fuse which matches the Amp value shown on the plug. This value is clearly marked on every plug and it is important that the Amps are not exceeded. Most people have a variety of fuses located in a drawer somewhere and is is very easy to pick one up without looking at the Amp value before putting it into the plug. Putting the wrong fuse into a plug can also cause devastating consequences in the event of an appliance fault including fire and damage to the socket and internal wiring in your home meaning a fire could be taking place inside your walls without the householder realising.

So what do the young people do if they cannot wire a plug? According to the survey, it would seem most ask their parents for help. Nowadays, the need to actually wire a plug is becoming less necessary with all appliances like toasters and kettles coming with a plug attached already. Not so long ago, electrical appliances did not come with plugs attached, so it was necessary to know how to wire a plug confidently. The young people are not concerned about this lost skill however, with one person quoting 'It’s not the end of the world that I’m unable to do certain DIY tasks, I mean, if it weren’t for people like me there’d be no work for plumbers and electricians.'

Other straightforward DIY jobs that are now regarded as being complicated include

* Unblocking a sink

* Bleeding a radiator

* Hanging a picture

* Using a power drill

* Putting up wallpaper

* Assembling flat pack furniture

How many of the above DIY tasks are you confident in carrying out?

Our own parents and grand parents would have taken such skills for granted with generations passing down their skills.

It would seem though, that very soon all these skills will be forgotten, and it will be up to trades people to carry out these tasks!