Electrical installations and made up of various components and working mechanisms. As a result, they deteriorate over time and should be tested and checked to ensure that everything is still working well – much like a car’s MOT.

Inspections help to identify any faults that may be apparent and ensure that the installation remains safe. Last year, Electrical Safety First found that two-thirds of the homes purchased between 2014 and 2016 were not been checked for electrical safety. This leaves homebuyers at risk of high bills, electric shock or fire.

How often should you have electrics tested?

The frequency of periodic inspection and testing is determined on the type of installation, its use and operation and the building type. As a general rule, the IET recommends the maximum period between inspections is:

  • Domestic Premises – 10 years
  • Commercial Premises – 5 years or change of occupancy
  • Residential Accommodation – 5 Years
  • Buildings open to the general public – 3 Years
  • Industrial Buildings – 3 Years
  • Special Locations – 1 to 3 Years dependent on level of risk

Electrical testing

There are two kinds of checks that can be carried out: a visual inspection and Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). It is recommended that a registered electrician, with accreditations, is used to carry out such checks.

Visual inspection

A visual electrical inspection looks at the electrical wiring system and identifies defects, damage or deterioration of the electrical installation without any circuit testing.

Examples of some of the checks include ensuring that all light fittings, sockets and switches are securely fastened in the back box, there are no signs of burning or overheating at the electrical meter, and that all electrical appliances are working.

Rather than being an alternative to, visual inspections often act as the precursor to an Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Electrical Installation Condition Report

An EICR is more detailed than a visual inspection as it involves testing the circuits. This means that the electrical contractor can identify any defects or issues that cannot necessarily be seen. The contractor will check the electrical installations against the requirements of BS 7671, the standards for electrical installation in the UK.

The report will test the equipment, containment and wiring and make recommendations where improvement is necessary or beneficial in the home or commercial space. The report will cover a full inspection of circuits or equipment that is overloaded, potential electric shock risks, fire hazards, defective DIY electrical work, lack of protective bonding, the type of wiring and its condition and the suitability of equipment.

Following the report, any deviation will be classified in three categories: C1, C2 and C3. C1 requires immediate action, C2 is potentially dangerous and requires remedial action and C3 recommends improvement. There is no obligation to have any of the issues fixed, but it is recommended that action is taken to rectify any C1 and C2s as soon as possible.

Only registered electricians should carry out an electrical inspection. You can find a registered electrical contractor in your area by simply visiting www.niceic.com.