Take care when selecting an electrician
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
It is once again that crazy time of year when electrical things can suddenly go wrong in your home. The problem is that many electricians are jam packed at this time of year – ourselves included.
Having your home electrics looked at needs to be carried out by a professional electrician. An NICEIC electrician is a good starting point. Do not do what you might do with presents and 'panic buy' an electrician into your home.
Take care when selecting an electrician
You may have been putting off having electrical work done, however in most cases electrical work can wait that little bit longer until your electrical engineer in London is able to take a look at it. At this time of year, good electricians are booked out for many weeks in advance. Here at Fulcher Edwards we are unfortunately having to turn work away at the moment. However we are recommending other reputable companies locally who may be able to help.
Check your electricians credentials
By that we mean check your electrician really is who they say are. In particular, check qualifications and Part P Registration. This is particularly important at this time of year when you may be desperate to have an important electrical job completed in time for Christmas.
According a recent survey carried out by the Electrical Safety Council, over a quarter of UK households have hired an electrician without checking their credentials. Any professional electrician will be more than happy to show their qualifications on request. In fact many display their qualifications as part of their work portfolio. It is also highly recommended to contact the registration body directly to confirm the electrician is in fact registered with them.
The Electrical Safety Council estimate there is in excess of 20,000 unregistered electricians carrying out electrical work in households.
Why aren’t more people checking electricians credentials?
This could be a mix of not wanting to appear rude or fussy to having a casual attitude to tradespeople. If you are paying money to have work carried out in your property then you owe it to yourself to verify the credentials. The survey revealed other reasons such as not knowing how to check if an electrician is registered to not worrying whether or not the electrician is registered in the first place.
In fact, 36% of survey respondents found their electrician via a friends recommendation and subsequently have not checked the credentials; and another 27% would use an unregistered electrician if they were in a hurry.
Furthermore,1.3 million people have paid a registered electrician to fix botched work carried out by an un-registered electrician.
With over half of house fires happening due to electrical accidents and one person every week killed as a result of electricity these statistics worry us somewhat.
So how do you check that an electrician is actually registered?
It is concerning that householders risk falling into the hands of un registered electricians simply because they do not know how to check to ensure an electrician is registered.
It is a legal requirement since 2005 that most electrical work carried out in the home must meet Building Regulation Part P. This means that once the work is complete the householder will receive a certificate confirming that the work meets the standards of Part P.
Only Registered electricians can carry out electrical work and certify it as Part P compliant. The electricians must be registered with a Government approved scheme. The main schemes are NICEIC, NAPIT and ELECSA.
Don't just take the electricians word for it that they are registered. You can search for their company name or registration number on line or over the telephone very simply. All electricians registered with the NICEIC or ELECSA will be listed on the Electrical Safety Register where you can find local, registered contractors in your area by entering your postcode. Electricians registered with NAPIT will be found on the Electric Safe Register.
We recommend that all electrical work, no matter how small is carried out by a qualified and registered electrician. It can seem very tempting to have a job carried out cheaply particularly in the run up to the festive period. In our opinion, it is far cheaper to pay a professional to do the job in the first place than risk hiring an un-registered electrician who may produce dangerous work resulting in having to pay again for a professional electrician do put the work right.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
This stark warning comes in the wake of South Essex Homes taking control over 6 flats after the landlord refused to allow electricians to certify the wiring of his property because it was done two years ago and covered until 2016.
Are South Essex homes being harsh?
Whilst it may appear that the landlord is keeping in with the recommendations of having an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) carried out every 5 years, he may have taken on new tenants over the last 2 years meaning that he should have had a further EICR carried out with each change of tenancy.
As a responsible landlord, an EICR should be carried out with each change of tenancy. This is because there is no way of knowing whether the property wiring is still safe. The previous tenants may have caused damage to the wiring so it is important to check that the installation remains safe before new tenants move in.
Even newly rewired properties may be compromised and it is highly recommended that an EICR is also carried out on recently rewired properties at a change of tenancy.
Aren't EICRs in rented properties optional?
They are, however the vast majority of landlords have them done and in fact we carry out a lot of electrical testing in London for landlords and letting agents. This is because in the event of an incident occurring the court would look for evidence that as a landlord, you took the necessary precautions to ensure the electrical safety of your tenants. As the requirements are quite complex, the majority of landlords opt for an EICR which can be used as proof to the court.
Furthermore, although only recommendations, they can be used in a court of law as evidence to claim compliance with a statutory requirement. In plain English, this means that a court can specify in individual cases that an EICR was necessary and as a landlord you could be prosecuted.
Another good reason to have an EICR done in your rental properties
If your tenants issue a complaint to the local authority regarding electrical concerns, the council will ask you to prove how you are ensuring the electrical safety of your tenants. You will be given only a few days to respond otherwise you can receive heft fines of approximately £600 per property or room if you let rooms. The local authority can also issue an Interim Management Order where the local authority takes control of your property. If you are a landlord of multiple properties, this figure could soon add up and far outweigh the costs of having an EICR carried out in the first place.
An incident does not need to occur to have a requirement for an EICR. Many landlord insurance policies will now refuse cover if an EICR isn't in place.
An EICR is an essential safety net that not only protects your tenants but also your own property. As electrical contractors in London who carry out work for landlords on a daily basis, we cannot recommend EICR's highly enough. Don't risk your livelihood for the sake of keeping up with your paperwork.
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Now that the chilly weather is definitely upon us, thoughts are now turning to how we can keep warm over the Winter. Sometimes our heating needs a boost and the electric blankets and electric heaters start to make a return appearance once again.
Despite all this, it is mindful that a household electrical system is only designed to cope with so much. Unfortunately increasing numbers of households are overusing extension leads and in some cases actually overloading them with the wrong types of appliances.
What appliances could overload an extension lead?
It is actually smaller appliances such as kettles, toasters and hair dryers which actually consume far more power than what you might imagine. In fact it is recommended that kettles and toasters actually have their own socket and are not used on extension leads at all. This is because a kettle alone would use the maximum electrical load on a 13 Amp extension lead which renders the rest of the extension lead useless!
Electric heaters can provide a great way of providing quick and effective heat into winter chilled rooms, they are great in a living room when plugged into an extension lead along with a laptop, printer and a router but be wary of using them with a hair dryer. An electric heater and a hair dryer plugged into a 13 Amp extension lead will overload it leading to risk of overheating and fire.
As a general rule, no more than 3000 Watts of energy should be plugged into a 13 Amp extension lead. Of course we don't expect you to calculate how much energy each appliance uses, just be mindful of more power hungry appliances such as kettles, hair dryers and electric heaters which should ideally have their own socket for your own peace of mind.
What appliances will be ok to plug into an extension lead?
Appliances which consume less power will be better used in an extension lead. Such appliances include televisions, computer monitors, hard drives, laptops, wireless routers, phones, mobile phone chargers, games consoles etc. Even items which you would imagine might use more power such as electric blankets and hair straighteners are ok to use in an extension lead.
However before you plug in, it is important to check the Amps on your extension lead. We have based our post today on a 13 Amp extension lead. The capabilities of a lower Amp extension lead (like a 5Amp) will be much lower.
There is a great tool on the Electrical Safety Council which allows you to find out if you will overload your 13 Amp extension lead with a wide variety of household appliances. Take a look here
Where are extension leads suitable for use?
We recommend that extension leads are restricted to living areas and bedrooms within your home. In kitchens, appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers would cause a 13 Amp extension lead to overload if more than once appliance was used at the same time. Of course extension leads should never be brought into bathrooms and WC areas in your home.
The Safer Way
In an ideal world, extension sockets should not be used at all. To maintain optimum safety levels in your home, you would plug each appliance into it's own socket, however we do understand that in living rooms in particular it would not be practical to have a socket for every single thing!
In rooms such as kitchens, it is a good idea to ask a domestic electrician in London to install extra sockets if you are finding it difficult to manage with what you have In recent years, there has been increasing demand for additional kitchen sockets, and here at Fulcher Edwards we are often asked to fit additional sockets in our clients home. The installation of additional sockets should always be done by an electrical contractor in London who will ensure that they are safely installed and tested for your peace of mind.
A good time to consider your household needs for sockets is when you carry out home improvements. Redecorating a home often leads to replacement sockets for something more fitting with the theme. It is a great idea to ask your electrician to install additional sockets if you using extension leads currently. In fact all good NICEIC electricians in London will ask you about your current electrical needs to ensure that you have enough electrical sockets for your needs.
Going through your home on a room by room basis will help spread the cost of essential home improvements without the worry of placing too much load on your home electrics.