What is a periodic inspection?
A Periodic Inspection is an inspection on the condition of an existing electrical installation, to identify (in order of priority) any deficiencies against the national safety standard for electrical installations.
A periodic inspection will identify current and potential deficiencies in your wiring system.
The inspection report will aim to prove the integrity and condition of installed circuits and to show up any problems with the electrical system that may currently or potentially be a problem for the safety of the property and its occupants.
I wish I had a pound for every time I’ve heard this line...
But I have lived here for 42 years and I have never had a problem with the electrics??
What do I need an rcd for??
The regulations are always changing it must be them Europeans messing around again!!
Well here are a few answers to the common questions.
Yes 42 years have flown by before you knew it but things have changed. England were then world champions of football, now we watch others fight out the championship of Europe, televisions (if you were lucky to have one, let alone 3 or 4 ) had a 12 foot flex on them and sockets were something you hid behind the folding dining table. Light fittings were mainly Bakelite why would anyone want a chrome chandelier in their front room it’s not the Blackpool tower ballroom?
Rcd protection is not only designed to interrupt a circuit in the event of a fault potentially saving your life but it is also designed to reduce the risk of fire to your property. A choice of rcd or no rcd that surely is a question that answers itself?
The wiring regulations changing every 5 minutes, this is a common misconception the wiring regulations changed from the 15th to the 16th in the early 90’s minor changes were made over the following years and then had a Major overhaul in 2004 but generally over time we are not talking about re-inventing the wheel. Some changes have had an impact in the way that for example circuits are arrange and protected, this is a natural progression electrical common sense times move on demands for equipment and appliances grow so the standards for installing circuits feeding such equipment also move forward. Some changes have removed the need for certain procedures to be carried out things that in times gone by were accepted as the way and that have been looked at and deemed now to be unnecessary. So in a word no the regulations have not been changing like the wind, it is with the introduction of part P and the more high profile advertising campaigns and articles in the papers and television programs that people are now sitting up and realizing that it’s not just about going to the local d.i.y. shop and throwing in a bit of cable and saying “it didn’t go bang” or “it’s working so it must be alright” and it is more about safety and making sure things are correct after all the Part P official title is Electrical Safety.
The average house right up until the early eighties only had a single socket in each bedroom, only one light circuit to the property, 1 socket circuit and generally electrical outlets were very sparse. With modern houses this just simply would not be acceptable. Imagine the noise if half way through the last round of the unsaved computer game your kid’s have been playing for the last 3 months the power goes off, just because dad has come home and put the toaster and kettle on, or Unthinkably Eastenders has just started and the fuse wire has just fell down the gap in the floorboards and its pitch black in the cupboard under the stairs!!. Modern electrical systems in house are designed with the future in mind and not just the present. Wiring is split into separate circuits and these circuits are not to full capacity. However this is not an ideal world, houses are not all new and shiny, electrical wiring is not all new cables and rcd protection that is where we come into the plan.
With regular inspection and testing of electrical wiring we can
· reveal if any of your electrical circuits or equipment is overloaded
· find any potential electrical shock risks and fire hazards in your electrical installation
· identify any defective DIY electrical work
· highlight any lack of earthing or bonding
Tests are also carried out on wiring and associated fixed electrical equipment to check that it is safe. A schedule of circuits will also be provided, which is invaluable for a property.
Why is a periodic inspection needed?
It is a fact that every electrical installation deteriorates with use and age and the older the property the more likely it is the electrical systems have been running over their ideal running capacity. The history of the property will in most cases not be fully known and many people over the years may have carried out d.i.y. disasters on your property (floor boards can hide a multitude of electrical sins).
It is also important for the person responsible for the maintenance of the installation to be sure that the safety of users is not put at risk, and that the installation continues to be in a safe and serviceable condition. This counts for householder’s landlords and company management alike. Would you drive your car without periodically getting it checked out? The periodic inspection report can be looked on as an M.O.T. for your property.
When is a periodic inspection needed?
It is recommended that periodic inspection and testing is carried out at least every:
· 10 years for a domestic installation for new installations 5 years for existing
· 5 years for a commercial installation
These terms are maximum recommended times and are a guideline set out by the wiring regulations and approved codes of practice for electrical periodic inspection and testing.
Other instances when a periodic inspection should be carried out are:
· when a property is being prepared to be let (Landlords report)
· prior to selling a property or when buying a previously occupied property (possibly a mortgage report requested by a mortgage lender or bank)
Who should undertake a periodic inspection?
Periodic inspections should be carried out by a competent electrician who has the experience and knowledge to give an informed detailed and educated report into the past current and future requirements of the electrical installation. The competent person should be skilled in the field of inspection and testing and should have a city and guilds certificate in this area of work.
What happens during a periodic inspection?
The electrician will check the electrical installation against the requirements of BS7671 - Requirements for Electrical Installations ( IEE Wiring Regulations) which is the national safety standard for electrical installations.
The periodic inspection will take into account all relevant circumstances including the following factors:
· adequacy of earthing and bonding
· suitability of the switchgear and control gear e.g. consumer unit e.g. an old fuse box with a wooden back, cast iron switches, a haphazard mixture of such equipment is likely to need replacing
· Serviceability of equipment e.g. switches, socket-outlets and light fittings e.g. older round pin sockets, round light switches and braided flex hanging from ceiling roses to light fittings, black switches, sockets mounted in skirting boards may require replacing.
· type of wiring system and its condition e.g. cables coated in black- rubber, black-rubber was phased out in the 1960s or cables coated in lead or fabric are even older and may need replacing (modern cables use pvc insulation)
· provision of residual current devices for socket-outlets that may be used to plug in electrical equipment used outdoors
· presence of adequate identification and notices
· extent of any wear and tear, damage or other deterioration
· changes in use of the premises which have led to, or might lead to, deficiencies in the installation.
The electrician will provide a periodic inspection report (PIR) as part of the periodic inspection.
What is a periodic inspection report?
A periodic inspection report (PIR) is a formal method of recording the findings of the periodic inspection, on at least three pages for domestic installations and six pages for larger installations.
The main purpose of a PIR is to report on the safety condition of an existing installation. Box E on page 1 should describe the overall condition as either 'satisfactory', in which case no immediate remedial work is required, or 'unsatisfactory' which means remedial work is required to make the installation safe to use.
The following example is for a satisfactory installation:
Where a PIR describes the installation as 'unsatisfactory', the next thing to look at is Box F on page 2 `Observations and Recommendations for Actions to be Taken'.
The following example is for an 'unsatisfactory' electrical installation:
This is where any departures from BS 7671 are recorded, and a code to indicate the urgency of the action needed is given.
· Code 1 Requires urgent attention
· Code 2 Requires improvement
· Code 3 Requires further investigation
· Code 4 Does not comply with BS 7671
Code 1 indicates a dangerous, or potentially dangerous, condition that requires urgent attention to make the installation safe. Once the necessary remedial work has been completed, an appropriate certificate should be issued to confirm that the remedial work has been carried out in accordance with BS 7671.
The electrician will give a summary of the inspection in the report, which will give a clear indication of the condition of the electrical installation, taking into account all relevant circumstances.
What happens after a periodic Inspection?
If the report recommends improvements to the installation, ask for a fixed price quotation for the remedial work from at least three electrical contractors. The improvements do not necessarily have to be carried out by the electrician who provided the Periodic Inspection Report.