Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Why the bathroom is possibly the most dangerous room in your home

Your bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home that the whole family use on a daily basis. Spend a day without one and you will see why! Any householder who has had a replacement bathroom fitted in their home will know where we are coming from here.

As electricians we see many dangerous risks being taken in bathrooms and particularly where new bathrooms have been installed, the electrics in the bathroom are often overlooked either through oversight or lack of knowledge.

Don't forget your electrics in your new bathroom

When you plan a new bathroom, do consider the electrical aspect. Particular attention needs to be given to the light fittings especially if they are located above a shower or bath. Also remember that sockets are not allowed around baths, basins, and showers. Switches need to be located outside of the bathroom or alternatively a pull cord switch within the bathroom.

The rules surrounding electrical fittings within bathrooms are quite complex and we always strongly recommend calling registered London electrical contractors to come and take a look and to advise what your options are, or indeed whether you need to upgrade your current electrical fittings to comply with the latest electrical regulations.

If you are in the process of designing your new bathroom, we have put together a handy electrical check list which you may find useful. It will ensure you and your family’s safety when using what could be the most dangerous room in your home.

Remember water and electricity do not mix and electrical accidents can take you unawares in the bathroom if you are not aware of some essential dos and don’t s.

What you should know about your bathrooms electrics

  • Sockets

Sockets are not allowed at all in bathrooms (with the exception of shaver supply sockets) unless they can be fitted more than 3 metres away from the bath or shower.

  • Shaver supply sockets

Your domestic electrician in London will take care to ensure your shaver supply socket is installed in a safe location in your bathroom away from splashes.

  • Lighting

An enclosed light fitting is a much better option than a normal pendant fitting in a bathroom. If you do opt for a pendant fitting it must be well away from water sources and out of the reach of anyone using the bath or shower. Remember water and electricity are a lethal combination.

  • Switches

A ceiling mounted pull cord made of insulating material is the safest option for your bathroom. Switches are not advised due to the danger of touching them with wet hands. Do remember to dry your hands first before using any switches.

  • Heating

Central heating is the best method of heating your bathroom. If you use an electric heater it must be plugged in at least 3 metres away from your bath and shower.

Gas and electric heaters must otherwise be fixed and permanently wired and preferably operated with a pull cord or switch located outside the bathroom.

  • Electric Showers

These must be supplied on their own circuit direct from the consumer unit.

Do not

Bring portable electrical appliances into your bathroom under any circumstances. Such appliances include hair dryers, heaters and radios. Electricians can install a fixed hair dryer with hot hair delivered through a flexible pipe if you like to dry your hair in the bathroom. You can also use a shower radio too which ensures you stay safe.

It pays to use an electrician

For your own safety we recommend calling on an electrician to carry out electrical work in London. You will have peace of mind that your bathroom electrics are installed safely. It is very easy to splash a pendant accidentally with water from a shower.

It makes sense to finish off your bathroom nicely too. It is costly installing a new bathroom and dangerous electrics can really take the shine off what is a major home improvement. The cost of using an NICEIC electrician in London will be far cheaper than trying to do it yourself and then have to call an electrician to put the job right.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Five Common Reasons for calling an Electrician

When we get calls from customers requesting an NICEIC electrician on London, we get asked on several occasions if their job is big enough to call in an electrician.

Unfortunately we also carry out work where an electrical problem has been left for far too long and has caused expensive damage to the property.

So as London electrical contractors, what jobs do you think we get called to most often? Contrary to popular belief we do not very often get called out to high profile 'the lights have gone out jobs' it's the lower profile jobs that we attend to in our domestic work that sees us carrying out a range of electrical services across London on a daily basis.

Is my problem significant?

Any electrician who carries out domestic work will be well used to hearing the question over the phone “is my problem big enough for you” Our reply to the question incidentally is that if something electrical is concerning you, it is always better to call an electrician. Better to be safe than be sorry.

Our blog today talks about the 5 most common reasons we are called out to customer homes across London. If you have any similar problems in your home then please do not hesitate to call us here at Fulcher Edwards for some advice.

Five common problems that need attention from an electrician

1. Changes in power levels/power fluctuations

If you notice a change in power level on small appliances you are using, this may be a sign of an electrical wiring problem in your home. Most people first notice this when they use more powerful appliances such as hair dryers. Before you call an electrician, it is worth carrying out a visual inspection of the appliance first to rule out any damage such as damaged flex and loose plugs.

2. Flickering lights, tripping of power

We get several calls from our clients saying they have problems with the lights going out or flickering lights but they can't find any obvious problem. We think it is important to have an understanding of the condition of your electrical system in your home. It is recommended that home owners have an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) carried out at least once every 10 years. Over the years, new circuits can be added and upgrades carried out and it is important that your internal electrical wiring is able to keep up with the additional demands placed on it. An EICR can also determine if any areas of your electrical system are unsafe and where improvements can be made. Over time internal cables can deteriorate and flickering lights and persistent tripping are definitely signs that all is not right.

3. Replacement electrical fittings required

We recommend checking sockets and switches regularly for signs of wear and tear. Cracks, breaks, scorch marks and smells of burning and buzzing noises coming from sockets are all signs that all is not well. If you notice this happening in your home switch off and unplug the appliance immediately and consult a qualified registered electrician. If your socket is broken and you can see the wiring behind it or you have even a hairline crack on a switch, it can be dangerous and it could give you an electric shock. Again stop using it and call a London electrical contractor.

4. Overloaded sockets

Many house holders use extension leads as a means of being able to plug additional electrical items in. however, many people do not realise that you cannot plug what you like into an extension lead and still expect it to work! There is a brilliant socket overload calculator on the Electrical Safety Council website, you can use it to calculate if the appliances you are using are overloading your extension lead. Did you know that simply plugging in a kettle and toaster will overload a 4 plug 13Amp extension lead?

One other note about extension leads, always use a bar extension lead such as the one pictured in the socket overload calculator. Do not use a multi plug adapter as these are unsafe.

5. Incorrectly sized shower cable

We get this problem a lot when the customer has recently had a new shower fitted. Remember if you purchase an electric shower, you will need an electrician to power it up. Do not be tempted to do it yourself or get the plumber to do it. It is very important that the correct size cable is used for the shower Kw size. On several occasions we have seen near misses where cables have melted causing the shower casing to melt and set alight due to the wrong sized cable. Remember that water and electricity do not mix, so if a problem does occur, you are in double the danger.


All these points if left undetected can cause fire in your home and risk of electrical shock – or worse – if left unresolved. If you suspect an electrical problem in your home, do not delay in calling out an electrician.

A small problem that will be easy and cost effective to fix can escalate into a significant problem in a short space of time. Remember electrical deterioration can happen over a number of years before finally alerting you which means it is important to act straight away.

Here at Fulcher Edwards, we work on a daily basis in clients homes in and around London fixing typical problems like those above. If you think we can help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch! 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

How clean is your kitchen?

How clean is your kitchen was one of the key messages given out over the Electrical Fire Safety week which took place on the 23rd to 27th September 2013.

With electrical fires remaining one of the biggest cause of house fires in recent years, the 2013 Electrical Fire Safety Week campaign, concentrated on raising awareness of electrical fires in the home and how easily they can start.

The kitchen is the culprit

It may come as no surprise to learn that the biggest cause of electrical fire in the home is in the kitchen, however it is not careless use of chip pans any longer that bring the fire brigade to your home, it is the general dirt and clutter found within the kitchen that is 'sparking' the fire (excuse the pun!)

Now we're not suggesting that your home is dirty (we know that would be terribly rude!) however, there are several 'hidden dangers' within all kitchens that could be causing an electrical fire risk without even realising. Keeping a kitchen electrically safe goes a bit further than washing the dishes and wiping the sides down everyday.

No one likes the idea of more housework (especially us here at Fulcher Edwards!) however with literally millions of grime fires which start in UK kitchens, it might be worth checking our check list to ensure that you are not unwittingly placing yourself at risk of fire by making a simple error.

How are the fires starting?

The fires are being fuelled by the build up of dust and grime that lies undetected around key appliances in the kitchen such as cookers and fridge freezers. Can you remember when you last cleaned behind your fridge freezer and underneath your oven? You are not alone if you can't remember, and many people are blaming a busy lifestyle for overlooking additional cleaning tasks within the home. According to a survey carried out by the Electrical Safety Council, two fifths of survey respondents said they struggled to keep their house clean and tidy particularly if they had young children of less than 5 years old.

Why are kitchens the focus of the campaign?

The kitchen is the main cause of electrical fires in the home. In 2012, more than half of all house fires were caused by kitchen appliances (21,036 out of 37,061.) Electricity is also responsible for the cause of 350,000 serious injuries each year so it is really important to take the time to clean around essential areas in your kitchen to avoid becoming a statistic!

The Fulcher Edwards definitive 'stay safe' check list

No one likes the idea of spending half their weekend cleaning....but with the weather turning chillier it will be time well spent staying warm, turning up the volume on the radio and going on a cleaning spree in your kitchen.

  • Oven
    Focus on your oven first – do you have a build up of grime? This can heat up and ignite. Don't forget to clean the outside and underneath your oven. Grime can heat up and catch fire.

  • Fridge/Freezer
    Next take a look behind your fridge freezer (or fridge and freezer) you will see a build up of dust if you haven't cleaned there recently. Allowing too much of this dust to build up can ignite a fire without you realising – you could be asleep in bed at night or out at work. Don't always assume you will be around to see it. If you are like us, you will probably keep all manner of paperwork on the top and this could also fall down the back too. Keep it clean and prevent the worry. Also carry out a defrost if you haven’t done one for a while.

  • Microwave
    Are you guilty of storing paperwork on the top of your microwave or tea towels, or spice pots etc? Doing so can block up essential vents that your microwave needs in order to operate safely. This means that a fire could start when you are heating up a quick lunch in your microwave or at the end of a long tiring day. Just what you won't need! Keep vents free and don't be tempted to use your microwave as a storage area.

  • Toaster
    Have you cleared out the crumb tray recently? Easy to overlook we know! Crumbs, dust and grime can easily collect in a toaster and will heat up with your bread as it toasts! Too much of a build up and you will end up with more than just burnt toast.

  • Tea Towels
    These should have a designated storage area such as hooks in the kitchen. Don't be tempted to hang them on oven handles, on the microwave or the fryer, It is all too easy to forget to remove them and they are great sources of ignition. Many fires are caused by flammable objects left near to hobs such as cloths, oven gloves, plastic bags and packaging. Always keep flammable objects away from heat sources.

Other things to check for

  • Plugs and sockets
    Ensure these are not overloaded as this can cause overheating. If you need more electrical sockets in your kitchen, we recommend calling an NICEIC electrician in London who would be happy to assist. In recent years, the need for additional electrical sockets in kitchens has grown in order to satisfy the need for the growing number of kitchen gadgets available nowadays!

  • A working smoke alarm
    Simply having a smoke alarm or 2 in your home does not mean you are safe. You need to ensure your smoke alarms are tested on a weekly basis to ensure they are working. Although many now have a 10 year battery life or are mains powered, you should not just rely on that alone. Always test using the test button and ensure you can hear the audible sound. Many people are testing their fire alarms on a Tuesday thanks to an on going campaign known as 'test it Tuesday'.

You should also ensure the vents remain free of dust to ensure they are working as they should. If you have any concerns about your fire alarm, contact an electrician who deals with fire alarm maintenance in London.

How often should I have a deep cleaning session?

Don't worry, we're not suggesting you know give up every weekend to your kitchen, in fact the Electrical Safety Council says that doing a thorough deep clean of your kitchen once a year is sufficient. It is important though that old habits don't return and you keep all vents free from clutter.

We think it's a great and satisfying way of having a good pre Christmas clean up – crickey did we just mention that word?!