Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Home Owners: How electricians in London can protect you from electrical shock

The danger of electric shock goes a little further than using an electrical appliance incorrectly. Electric shock can occur as a result of an unsafe electrical installation such as the wiring in your home.

Identifying an electrical problem

It is true that many electrical faults can go unnoticed until a disaster strikes – this could mean electrical shock resulting in injury and death or a serious house fire. Many house fires begin inside walls and inside lofts where cables overheat.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do as a householder to protect yourself, your loved ones and your home from the dangers of electricity. Here at Fulcher Edwards, we receive many calls from the public seeking an electrician in South London to come and look at an electrical concern. In most cases, the problem is caused by an electrical fault that has occurred. Sometimes the fault can occur as a result of the householder tampering with their electrics or it can happen as a result of cable age, deterioration or as a result of other work that has been carried out in the home.

A common problem that we have seen in recent years are cables that have been installed for a number of years overheating in lofts. This is nearly always due to insulation being laid on top of the cables which then cause them to overheat. If you have had your loft insulated this last Winter, it is worth checking with an electrician that the cables in your loft are not at risk of overheating.

If you are not sure what condition your wiring is in within your home, your best starting point is to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out if you have not had one done within the last 10 years.

Signs that your electrics may need attention

Deterioration of cables can occur without your knowledge and it is far better to find a problem before it becomes a major issue. However there are signs to look out for that can indicate that all is not well with your electrical installation.

  • Discolouration of sockets and switches – particularly look for a 'shadow' where a plug would sit against the socket.
  • Buzzing noises and 'bad egg' odours that occur when the socket is in use.
  • Flickering of lights.
  • Delays and sparks when switching on lights and/or sockets.
  • Electrical trips occurring more often.
  • Overheating of sockets and switches.

If you notice any of these signs or indeed have any other concerns about your home electrics, please contact a qualified and registered electrician as soon as possible.

Is your EICR up to date?

It is recommended that home owners have their electrics inspected by a qualified and registered electrician at least once every 10 years. The purpose of an EICR is to assess how safe your current electrical installation is and to ensure you are benefiting from the latest in electrical safety standards. One of the most ground breaking electrical safety to become available in recent years is the Residual Current Device (RCD) which are now fitted to all new consumer units. The RCD has been responsible for saving many lives and serves as a safety blanket – protecting everyone in the household from the dangers of electric shock whether as a result of a faulty appliance or human error.

After completing the EICR the electrician will issue you with a report which will detail the condition of your home electrics and recommend works that need to be carried out. As NICEIC electricians in London, we also provide a quote on the costs involved to bring your home up to the safest possible electrical standard. Additionally we will advise on the most important works that need to be carried out. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend upgrading your consumer unit to include RCD protection if your home doesn't currently have this level of protection.

If you have not had an EICR carried out on your home in the last 10 years, we highly recommend you contact a London electrical contractor as soon as possible to arrange one.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

What does competent person really mean?

The Government announced last week that the electrical industry must do more to ensure that electricians working in peoples homes are of a higher standard.

The Government highlighted concerns that electricians were not always deemed as competent persons and more must be done to raise standards in the electrical industry including public knowledge of Part P. Since then, we have received an increase in calls from concerned customers asking what the situation really is.

Competent person – what it means to the customer

The term 'competent person' is not very clear – we agree. In fact this term has contributed to the increase of unregistered electricians working in peoples homes without the householders knowledge. A competent person is far more than a person who knows a bit about electrics. A fully qualified electrician is known as a competent person. All our electricians who work with us here at Fulcher Edwards have completed several years of apprenticeship training, a good number of our electricians took their apprenticeship with us and have stayed with us ever since and have continued building on their extensive electrical experience.

Unfortunately, a misunderstanding over the meaning of competent person has lead to more than just a few people making the mistake of using a friend to carry out work in their home as they know a bit about electrical work.

The Government wants electricians trained to a higher standard

The Government proposes that all electricians are trained to at least NVQ level 3 within the next 5 years. This is following claims that electricians with only a few weeks of electrical training are carrying out house rewires. As the leading electricians in South East London, we are proud to say that all our electricians are City and Guilds qualified.

All electricians registering with a scheme such as the NICEIC need to show a minimum standard of qualifications and have an assessment of their work carried out. Therefore it is important to check the registration details of an electrician before they begin work in your home. Registration details are known as being Part P registered.

Check qualifications and registration details of all electricians – even if you know them

If your electrician tells you that they are an NICEIC electrician do not just take their word for it, check yourself. In June 2014 there will be a single register introduced which can be used to find the details of any registered electrician in the UK regardless of the scheme they are registered with.

This will an excellent 'go to' resource which we believe will help our customers and the public to check an electrician is actually registered and therefore suitably qualified.

Checking qualifications can be a minefield as there are many different qualifications an electrician can hold. Our tip is to look at the date of the certificate – this will then give you a good idea of how much experience the electrician has.

Fulcher Edwards – helping the public stay informed about electricity in their home

The Government also hope to increase public knowledge of Part P registration which is extremely low. Despite Part P being introduced in 2005, only 14% of the public know what it means to them. The introduction of the single register will play a big part in contributing to the public knowledge.

Electricians themselves also play a large part in explaining to their clients what the meaning of Part P is. Certainly we spend a great deal of time ensuring our clients stay of the right side of Part P which is ultimately there for their own protection. We are also committed to helping the public understand the dangers of electricity in their own home and will continue to provide electrical tips, advice and help on spotting dangers in the home and getting them put right.

We look forward to following the progress of the latest Government proposals which will be finalised by March 2015.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Are you at risk from an electric shock in your home?

You may feel that you are not at risk of electric shock in your home, however there are many commonly made mistakes that householders often make that puts them at risk of an electric shock.

Your home may have perfectly safe electrics, it is important though that you still do not take unnecessary risks where electricity is concerned. Electricity kills 70 people every year in the UK and 350,000 serious injuries occur. Many of these injuries could have been easily prevented by staying safe and not taking a chance with electricity.

Did you know?

Some people think it is normal to get a shock from electricity now and then! It is not normal and whilst a minor shock may not kill you, many people have been killed by household appliances – as little as 42 volts is enough to kill. However it is not the volts that actually kill, it is the amount of current that is forced through the body. This effectively means any electrical appliance in your home when in use is capable of transmitted a current that is enough to kill.

Avoid these simple errors

Many electrical accidents can be easily avoided. As electricians in South East London, we often come across householders making these dangerous mistakes with electricity. Carry on reading and find out if you are putting yourself at risk from the dangers of electricity.

  • Keep drinks and other liquids away from electrical appliances
    How many times have you left a drink near to items such as a computer, sky box, television or games console? It is important to keep drinks away from items like these because if they spill the liquid would drip into the appliance causing you to have an electric shock. It could also cause a house fire. Not to mention the fact that you could also potentially destroy your favourite gadget – and that's at best!

  • Always switch off your toaster before retrieving stuck toast
    Using a metal object such as a knife to rescue burnt toast is extremely dangerous. If the knife touches the live parts found inside toasters you will get an electric shock – remember metal is a conductor of electricity. If you need to retrieve anything stuck inside your toaster, remember to switch it off first before you begin. Never use any implement inside a toaster whilst it is still plugged in. Do not shake a toaster to dislodge small items, crumbs inside the toaster can stick to the element and could cause a fire.

  • Don't leave phones, tablets and other hand-held devices on charge for long periods of time
    Once your device has finished charging, unplug it. Chargers can overheat and cause fire. It is also important to only use chargers and other accessories approved for your device. Never be tempted to purchase cheap chargers from unknown origins as they can be very dangerous.

  • Don't leave electrical appliances and other items on standby
    If you leave your television, games console, computer and other electrical equipment on standby you are risking an electrical fire. It is particularly important to switch off items on that are on standby before you go to bed. Not only will you stay safer but you will save money on your energy bill too. Don't forget to switch off washing machines and dishwashers once they have finished their programme too.

  • Don't overload sockets
    If you need to use an extension lead, use a bar rather than an adapter. Take care not to overload the extension lead as this can cause overheating and electric fire. The best option is to have an electrical contractor in London to install extra sockets that are needed.

  • Keep electrical appliances out of the bathroom

        Don't take hair dryers, straighteners and other electrical appliances into bathrooms. You are at high risk         of electric shock particularly if the appliance comes into contact with water. Don't wind the cord round         appliances when not in use as this increases the risk of electrical fire from damaged cable.

  • Only use appliances with a 3 pin plug
    Never be tempted to use electrical appliances with a 2 pin plug in the UK. Here at Fulcher Edwards, we have seen instances where householders have tried to force a 2 pin plug into a standard 3 pin socket. If you want to use appliances from another country in the UK, you can purchase a converter which allows you to plug your 2 pin appliance into a 3 pin plug. This should be replaced as soon as possible with a standard UK appliance.

Keeping you and your family safe

By following these simple tips above, you will be keeping yourself and your family safe from the dangers of electrical injury and shock. By using electricity safely you are vastly decreasing your chances of fire and electrical injury in your home.