Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Spring DIY – know your limits

Well known retailers are now busily plugging their Spring wares in the hope that it will spark off a busy season of DIY. So long as the sun does actually come out then with it will come householders in their droves all of whom have one thing on their minds – DIY.

Whatever project you have planned for this year whether it's a new front door or some new decking you need to know where you stand when it comes to electrical work. Unfortunately electricians are getting called out to increasing numbers of electrical DIY jobs that have gone wrong and the resulting work that needs to be carried out often costs more than using a qualified and registered electrician in the first place.

Electrical DIY that often goes wrong

A recent survey carried out by the electrical training provider Trade Skills 4 U revealed that electricians most commonly get calls to fix DIY lighting that has gone wrong. On the face of it, replacing a light fitting might seem straightforward, however householders often get into difficulties when faced with cables they are not sure what to do with.

Problems with wiring are also common. Our electricians in South East London often get called to homes where cables have been drilled through accidentally or house wiring has been tampered with in an effort to resolve an electrical problem.

Know what electrical work you can and cannot do

When you are planning your DIY projects this year, it is important you know when you need to consult an electrician in South London so that you do not endanger you and your family or break the law. Remember that the majority of electrical work is subject to Part P building regulations and as such the electrical works need to be certified. Attempting to carry out work yourself that is subject to Part P regulations is illegal.

The most straightforward way to overcome this is to only use a qualified and registered electrician to carry out electrical work in your home. In addition to the certification you will have peace of mind that the electrical installation has been tested for safety and complies with the latest electrical and building regulations. In our opinion here at Fulcher Edwards, this is a small price to pay to ensure the continued safety of your family and property.

If you are intent on carrying out as much work as possible yourself, you are able to replace electrical accessories in your home that are like for like. So if your budget is very tight and you are confident in doing so, this could be another option to freshen up the look in your home.

However, in order to achieve the sparkling look that the brochures like to advertise to you, you will need to use the services of a qualified and registered electrician who can carry out the appropriate electrical designs and specify the materials needed to achieve the look.

Don't forget RCD protection

When using electrical DIY tools, it is important that you are protected from electrical injury if your equipment malfunctions. If your home does not currently have RCD protection, then you can purchase RCD sockets at low cost from well known high street retailers. Simply plug in and use for instant protection.

With a bit of forward planning, your Spring DIY should start with a proper 'spring it's step' so don't forget to stay safe and plan ahead! 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Could these Electrical Hazards be present in your home?

There are lots of stories in the media about electricity and how dangerous it can potentially be. When we're carrying out electrical work in London, we come across many households and businesses who use electricity dangerously.

It is not always poor electrical work or dangerous electrical wiring that can cause electrical injury or shock, it can also be dangerous use of electricity by householders and employees. One of the typical instances we come across very often is overuse of extension leads which has caused overheating in the wall socket, the wrong fuses used in extension leads, and badly maintained electrical appliances. It is not unusual for us to find vacuum cleaners in workplaces that have insulation taped wrapped around potentially live cable!

Checking your home and workplace for electrical hazards

When did you last actively check for electrical hazards in your home? It is easy to take electricity for granted and problems can come as a surprise. It is also worth checking your workplace, particularly electrical appliances you use as part of your job. Check your workstation, kettle, microwave, vacuum cleaner etc that you use. Don't take PAT tested equipment for granted, accidental damage can still occur between PAT tests.

Leads to electrical appliances

Check the leads to all electrical appliances that you use. Damage can occur very easily around the plug so check to ensure no bare wires are exposed in the plug area and there are no rips or wires exposed anywhere on the cable. Always check to ensure the plug is still firmly in place.

Damage to cable can cause electric shock, overheating of the appliance and possible fire. It is particularly important to check appliances that will be left unattended whilst in use.

Take care when hanging items on the wall

Burst pipes and drilled cable is no fun however many people have hit a cable unexpectedly when drilling holes in walls in order to hang mirrors, pictures and electrical equipment. If you are not sure where the cables run in your home then do not drill. Hitting a cable with a drill can cause electrical shock not to mention the inconvenience and expense of repairing the damage.

If you do drill through the cable it is important to contact an electrical engineer in London as soon as possible in order that the damage can be assessed and to make your electrical installation safe.

Before drilling or putting nails in the wall, use a cable and pipe detector which will help to identify if any cables or pipes are present where you are intending to drill.

Don't take chances with electricity

All of us have heard people boast about how they don't switch off the light when changing a light bulb or who laugh at the thought of turning off electricity to carry out a simple repair. At FulcherEdwards we highly recommend that you always switch off AND unplug electrical items when carrying out maintenance whether it is a straightforward light bulb change or a belt change on a vacuum cleaner. Electricity can activate at any time when switched on and people have had their fingers trapped when mechanisms activate without warning.

Always use common sense with electricity. If you have a electric shaving point in your bathroom, don't use it whilst you are in the bath, shower or with a basin full of water. Try to keep the use of extension leads to a minimum. It is better to ask an electrical contractor in London to install additional sockets in your home particularly in high risk areas like a kitchen rather than risk overheating and electrical injury. Many kitchen appliances will overload an extension lead so it is better not to use them at all in the kitchen.

Double check the watts when changing a light bulb

Take care not to exceed the watts on your light fitting. Never be tempted to place a bulb into a light fitting which has higher watts than stated. It can lead to overheating and could even melt the light fitting itself. It could also cause fire to both the fitting and to the lampshade around it.

Using the recommended watts saves energy too. Although light bulbs now are all energy saving which is great, it is still not necessary to use any more energy than needed.

If any damage is suspected on light fittings, always ask a domestic electrician in London to take a look.

Check your sockets for noise and damage

Even hairline cracks increase your risk of electric shock. Never use a socket with even the slightest damage. Remember there are live cables behind sockets. If you discover any discolouring on your socket, particularly a mark where a plug has been, this is a sign of overheating. Similarly if you notice any buzzing or crackling noises, fuses blowing and electric tripping then this will need a qualified and registered NICEIC electrician in London to take a look.

Never cover electrical equipment

Electrical equipment like heaters, computer monitors and televisions have vents that are vital to prevent the appliance from overheating. Never be tempted to dry clothing on an electric storage heater. The heat can set fire to the clothes. Worse still, the water dripping onto the electrics could give you an electric shock.

For ultimate electrical safety

Have you had an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out on your property within the last 10 years? If not, it is worth having one carried out. Over time electrical installations can deteriorate which can cause electricity to become dangerous. It is also worth ensuring your are benefiting from the latest technology in electrical safety.

In you rent your home, the recommendation is that your landlord should have an EICR carried out every 5 years or when new tenants move in whichever is the sooner.

Take care not to become the next statistic

Electricity kills 1 person every week and injures 1000's of people. Taking time to check your home and your immediate workplace could actually save your life.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Electrical Safety Checks may become compulsory for landlords

In a welcome move, government officials are debating over the possibility of electrical safety checks becoming a compulsory requirement for landlords. Electrical safety checks have long been a grey area for landlords with the recommendations leaving an open door for less reputable landlords to not undertake any form of electrical safety checks on the properties they rent out.

The recommendations currently

The recommendations are to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out every 5 years or with every change of tenancy whichever is the sooner. Unlike gas safety, no certificate is needed to confirm electrical safety. However, a landlord does have to demonstrate how they meet the electrical safety requirements should an electrical accident occur within their property. The majority of landlords opt for an EICR which is the simplest method of staying compliant and is a recognised document in a Court of Law.

An EICR is carried out by experienced domestic electricians in London who will issue a certificate to confirm the condition of the electrical installation in the property.

Government proposals

The government is proposing to make electrical safety checks a mandatory requirement in rental properties by imposing a requirement to have an EICR carried out on the property at least once every 10 years. Whilst this is not as often as it should be, here at Fulcher Edwards we acknowledge that this is a step in the right direction and brings electrical safety checks more in line with the current mandatory gas safety checks.

We expect this move to be fully supported by the vast majority of landlords who are already following current guidelines.

Additionally the Government has also increased the penalties for non-compliance with electrical safety recommendations in rental homes. In 2013, the fine for non-compliance was raised from £5,000 to £20,000.

The government also wants all rental homes to fitted with an RCD and electrical equipment supplied by the landlord to be PAT tested.

The proposals do not come a minute too soon as the findings from a survey carried out by the Electrical Safety Council in 2013 revealed that tenants in the private sector were more likely to affected by electrical accidents and fires with 1.7 million private renters reporting that electrical problems and issues notified to the landlord were never acted upon or not addressed in sufficient time.

What a tenant should expect to see before renting a property

Although electrical safety checks are still currently only a recommendation, we believe that landlords who are serious about your safety will ensure their electrical installations in London properties are safe before the property is let.

Before you go ahead with a rental agreement on a property ensure you see the following documentation before proceeding:

  • A dated EICR certificate
  • A dated gas safety certificate
  • PAT test certificate and list of electrical appliances supplied by the landlord
  • Modern consumer unit fitted with RCD

It makes sense to ensure your safety in the property you are thinking of renting and landlords choosing not to comply are risking a prison sentence, heavy fines, invalidation of insurance, not to mention the risk of being sued by you as the tenant!

In our opinion you are better spending your money with a reputable landlord who cares about your safety.