Are Your Plugs Safe

Are Your Plugs Safe

 

This tip might seem a bit bizarre – after all a plug is something that we generally take for granted, so long as it contains the right fuse, all should be good right?

 

Unfortunately this is not always the case. The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) carried out some tests on plug tops in the UK. The ESC is a UK charity that is dedicated to keeping people safe by reducing the risk of electrical accidents around the home and in the workplace.

 

The plug tops in question had been purchased off the internet and many proved to be substandard – causing damage and burning to electrical sockets and in one instance a plug actually blew itself out of the socket with a bang. Someone would have been seriously injured had this happened in someone’s home.

 

The video is available to view by following this link:  Dangerous Plugs

 

A further electrical tip is to ensure that all electrical appliances are used sensibly – when removing a plug from a socket, always pull the plug from the socket using the actual plug itself – never pull a plug from a socket by the cable and always check the cable before use for signs of damage. If you see any exposed cable, do not use as you could get an electric shock.

 

This might seem simple but the following scenarios I encounter regularly when working in clients houses throughout Cwmbran, Abergavenny and surrounding areas:

 

Items such as extension leads being taken into the bathroom (having been plugged in another room) and being used to power radios, hair dryers/straighteners and other small electrical appliances. If water from showers goes onto the plugs/extension lead or a hair dryer is dropped into a sink of water in error you are in very real danger of receiving a serious electrical injury – remember water and electricity don’t mix.

 

 

In kitchens I see wires trailing across oven tops, extension leads used to power washing machines and overloaded electrical sockets.

 

Remember a safe plug is not safe if used incorrectly!

 

If you in any doubt about the safety of any aspects of your electrics, please consult a qualified electrician. If your home has not had an electrical inspection within the last 5 years, now is an ideal time to ensure your home is electrically safe.

 

A qualified electrician is also happy to advice on the best use of electricity in your home – so whether you need some extra kitchen sockets to ensure you and your family are no longer at risk from electrical shock or some easy to access sockets in your living room so you don’t have to pull the cable to remove a plug from a socket out of reach behind the sofa.

 

Don’t delay, call your electrician today.

Electrical Inspections

Electrical Inspections

 

Around this time of year I get many calls from homeowners asking me to carry out an electrical inspection of their property. This is often due to an electrical problem that has arisen such as overloaded electrical circuits caused by switching on increased numbers of appliances such as electrical storage heaters now that the colder nights are drawing in.

 

Following many electrical inspections in Cwmbran and surrounding areas, I am told many times by my clients that they thought an electrical inspection and test would be costly in both time and money – in reality this is not true – many electrical inspection tests I carry out are absolutely fine and it leaves the homeowner or business owner with peace of mind that their home is electrically safe.

 

Other electrical inspection tests indicate a potential problem which is easily fixed as its been brought to my attention before it becomes an expensive issue.

 

Many clients are surprised to find that an electrical inspection test is very straightforward and hassle free. In this weeks blog, I’m going to tell you what happens when an electrician comes to your home to carry out an electrical inspection.

 

The inspection is based on the electrical system of each individual household and includes the following:

 

The adequacy of earthing and bonding.

 

The suitability of the switchgear and controlgear. For example an old fusebox with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard mixture of both will need replacing.

 

The serviceability of switches, sockets and light fittings. The following may all require replacing; older round pin sockets, round light switches, braided flex hanging from ceiling roses to light fittings, black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards.

 

The type of wiring system and its condition. For example cables coated in black- rubber were phased out in the 1960s, likewise cables coated in lead or fabric are even older and may well need replacing (modern cables use pvc insulation).

 

The provision of residual current devices for sockets that may be used to plug in outdoor electrical equipment.

 

The presence of adequate identification and notices.

 

The extent of any wear and tear, damage or other deterioration.

 

The changes in house which have led to, or may lead to, problematic wiring.

 

Source: http://www.esc.org.uk/public/find-an-electrician/pirs-explained/

 

An electrical inspection is known as an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) at the end of the inspection you will receive a written report telling you of the condition of your home electrical system.

 

It is recommended that every homeowner has an EICR (formerly PIR) carried out every 10 years. If you have not had a PIR carried out over that time then I would strongly recommend you have an electrical safety test carried out asap, even if your electrics appear to be working as normal.

 

Different rules apply to rental homes, businesses, caravans and swimming pools as well as when you buy or sell a home.

 

Finally, always check that your electrician is able to carry out a PIR for you by contacting the relevant organisation your electrician is registered with. Being a qualified electrician alone does not automatically mean they can carry out a PIR so please check first.

 

There is more information on PIR inspections on the Electrical Safety Council website http://www.esc.org.uk/public/find-an-electrician/pirs-explained/

Lighting Design & Installation

 

One of the most popular and exciting electrical projects home owners contact me about is their lighting requirements. Many of my clients within the Cwmbran towns and Abergavenny have very specific ideas about how they want their room to look.

 

One of my favorite aspects of being an NICEIC Domestic Electrician is helping my clients achieve their dream of perfect lighting in their home. As a registered electrician and lighting installer in Cwmbran, it is my job to ensure that each customer is left with an optimum lighting system both inside and outside their home that they’re 100% happy with.

 

Lighting installation carried out correctly will transform your home and there is never a better time to do this than following a house rewire or room redecoration.

 

When planning a lighting project it is best to leave it to a qualified electrician. They will know what bulbs (lamps) will be needed to achieve the desired effect and how many lamps will be required. You will also have the lighting installed to current 17th edition regulations, so using a qualified electrician to carry out this work is a worthy investment. They will also have access to the highest quality and safest lighting available on the market today. Please do not be tempted by cheaper lighting found elsewhere – the end results are often disappointing with inferior light quality and light fittings that need replacing on a regular basis.

 

Interior lighting is generally trouble free, one of the more challenging aspects of lighting design in Cwmbran is outdoor lighting. I have seen outdoor lighting poorly designed to the point where it shines in through neighbouring windows or is triggered by traffic or passing pedestrians. In extreme cases neighbours have taken others to court over intrusive lighting. I have also seen lighting which does not switch off in the day and which contain no energy saving lamps!

 

My electrical tip when thinking about your next lighting design in Cwmbran is to use a qualified electrician to install your lighting – this way you will avoid any pitfalls and will stay on good terms with your neighbours. Many of my clients actually save money on their lighting design in Cwmbran!

 

The most exciting aspect of lighting design is discovering what type of light fitting you are after and what will go with your interior style. I am happy to leave this aspect to you!

 

 

When You Don’t Need an Electrician!

 

Many ideas exist about what you can or can’t do electrically in your own home.  There are home owners out there who do all electrical work in their home regardless, little realising that they are not only putting themselves in danger but also their family and their home.

 

Electricity does kill and there are fatalities and house fires every year related to poor or dangerous electrics.  This is not helped by the fact that there are often unqualified people attempting electrical work who are not qualified to do so but feel they know enough about electrics to do the work far cheaper than a qualified electrician.

 

There are also people who call out an electrician because their lights have gone out only to find that their light bulb had blown and all was needed was a simple flick of a switch on their fuse box.

 

In these days of economic gloom, it will come as a relief to know that there are in fact electrical jobs that you can undertake yourself perfectly legally in your own home.  For the avoidance of doubt and to keep things simple, the easiest way to remember is that you can change like for like but not add anything else.

 

So if you want to change a broken switch or broken socket then its ok to do this, however please keep the jobs small, do not attempt more complex jobs and if you do not feel confident in doing the work, always consult a qualifed electrician who will be happy to assist.

 

Remember don’t put yourself, your family and your home at risk.

 

As I’ve said in the past, electricians do not charge the earth, so always use a qualifed electrician do carry out any job you are not confident in undertaking or jobs which you cannot legally do yourself.

Things That Go Bump…

And I’m not talking about spectres and headless horsemen that may roam around your premises at night…although these can seem harmless when compared to a little device called an RCD is non existant in your home.

I really believe that the RCD has been a groundbreaking invention in the electrical industry. Basically speaking an RCD is fitted to a consumer unit (fuse box) and if anything were to malfunction such as a kettle, washing machine or hairdryer then the RCD would activate (within less than a second) and cut the power to the appliance concerned.

Potentially this could well save your life, your home and the well being of your family. I always recommend my clients have an RCD fitted as it really does give you peace of mind. RCD’s save several lives every year in UK households and contribute to fewer house fires.

There have been electrical regulations around for years requiring an RCD to be fitted to consumer units, but as I have seen so many times during my travels around Cwmbran, Abergavenny and South East Wales this hasn’t been happening. The good news is, all new 17th edition consumer units, which are the latest in consumer unit technology come with an Dual RCD fitted as standard, and not as an optional extra.

If your home has an older style consumer unit, I would recommend you consult a qualified electrician to carry out an electrical inspection in your home. I have discussed how to find a good electrician in a previous blog so please take a read of this for advice on how to proceed. Over the years these older style consumer units have been added to, causing them to become overloaded and are therefore offering you little or no electrical protection. I’m afraid you won’t be aware of this, as for now everything will appear to be working well. I have also seen instances of silver paper or strands of cable used to replace fuse wire.

Attempting to replace fuse wire is extremely dangerous and should never be attempted. Nowadays you simply flick a switch. If your electricity is not working, this indicates a problem and for your own safety the consumer unit will not operate. Its time to call upon the services of a qualified local electrician.

If you have a consumer unit similar to the ones shown here it’s time for a new one – for your own safety.

Regards

Phil – your local electrician in Cwmbran

 

Are You Being Over Charged

Are You Being Over Charged?

Being over charged doesn’t necessarily mean looking at the total price of the job – although to be fair the vast majority of us do look at that bottom line to determine whether or not to proceed.

When it comes to having electrical work carried out in your home, it is important that the electrician who carries out the work is going to leave your home in a safer state than it was before.

 

This week, I’m going to outline some simple fundamentals you need to think about when receiving quotes for electrical work.

 

Firstly, ensure that your quote contains a detailed breakdown of what work is going to be carried out along with a material breakdown – whats included in your quote? This is important. I have seen first hand the devastation caused to homeowners in Cwmbran and Abergavenny from simple misunderstandings between the homeowner and electrician.

 

What materials are going to be used? This may seem silly to suggest that the materials the tradesperson uses will be inferior but unfortunately it does happen. Much of the items fitted in your home such as ventilation systems (fans) consumer units (fuse boxes) and downlights have to comply with several electrical and building regulations. The use of inferior products obtained cheaply can leave your home in a dangerous condition, leading to increased risk of fire and electric shock.

 

If the quote you’ve received seems very cheap, I would suggest asking the electrician how the work can be done so cheaply – remember an electrician has to issue certificates, buy quality materials, provide a high standard of workmanship, be reliable and trustworthy, and above all be suitably qualified and insured to carry out the work. This is in addition to buying their tools and running costs of their van.

 

Quoting a customer for remedial work following shoddy and dangerous workmanship is never a pleasant experience and of course this has cost the customer more money in the longer term. I have seen jobs where the electrician has left part way through the job as the money had ran out leaving the customers home in a worse condition than it was in before.

 

I have also seen instances where the incorrect cable sizes have been used to connect household items such as cookers and showers leading to cable meltdown and fire. Live cables being left in customers homes when the electrician has left the job temporarily (often to go to a bigger, more lucrative job)

Don’t feel pressured into accepting a quote, take the time to think about what is right for your home.

An electrician doesn’t cost the earth, but please don’t fall into the trap of accepting very cheap quotes thinking that you will save money.

If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, trust your instincts and go elsewhere!

 

Household Appliances

Many householders in Cwmbran and Abergavenny often ring me to ask if there is a problem with their electrical supply. Understandably they are not sure if it is safe to continue to use their electrical appliances at home or if they should call an electrician.

The basic advice is if you suspect a problem with an electrical appliance, unplug and stop using it immediately, however if you suspect a problem with your actual electrical installation then consult your local qualified electrician who will be happy to come and take a look.

Many electrical fires are caused in homes in the UK through improper use of electrical appliances. This means that often electrical fires can be easily prevented by making a few common sense precautions when using electrical appliances.

I have compiled an essential list of electrical safety tips which can be adhered to by any householder. It does not require any expenditure in many cases. Remember if in doubt do not take any risks and consult an electrician as soon as possible. The sooner the problem is rectified, the cheaper it is to repair.

Essential Electrical Safety Tips:

Do not pull electrical appliances out of sockets by the cable, always pull from the socket by the plug. This avoids any damage to the flex.

Never plug adapters into adapters. In fact, avoid adapters completely and opt for extension leads. The same rule applies though, never plug an extension lead into an extension lead, and limit the use of extension leads where possible. Do not exceed the Amps shown on the extension lead, think carefully about what appliances you plug into an extension lead.

Switch off electrical appliances when not in use. This is especially important at night time as a fire could start undetected from an appliance that is still plugged in. When you go away on holiday, ensure that all non-essential items are unplugged to minimise the risk of electrical fire and to save energy.

Do not use any electrical items in the bathroom, as this is highly dangerous, particularly hair dryers which could easily fall into a basin or bath full of water. The exceptions to this would be for items designed specifically for use in bathrooms, these being items such as shavers and electric toothbrushes, even when using these, take extra care when plugging and unplugging sockets and take care not to get such items wet.

Check the cords on electrical appliances, particularly to ensure the plug is securely in place and there is no obvious signs of damage on the cable itself. If any damage is found, do not use the appliance. Check items regularly.

Always turn electrical appliances off at the mains before attempting to carry out any maintenance such as changing a light bulb, cleaning filters on hair dryers and cleaning. Only attempt repairs if you know what you are doing.

  • Ensure that when purchasing electrical items, they are brought from reputable sources and inspect the appliance before use. Ensure the instructions are followed for correct set up.

Do not use electrical appliances outside if it is raining.

Always ensure you use a Part P registered electrician to carry out electrical work in your home and do not be tempted to carry out DIY electrical work in your home. By following these common sense tips when using electrical equipment, you will minimise your risk of electrical fire breaking out in your home.

Best Regards,

Phil

PG Electrics

Outdoor Lights

Your garden has so much potential – it can now be regarded as another room in your home – the last few years have seen rise to people opting for decking in their gardens – after all it is low maintenance, versatile and allows friends to congregate in one area with the possiblity of stylish lighting added.

Decking lighting – and indeed other forms of garden lighting whether this is lighting to sheds and other outbuildings, outdoor lighting, security lighting or perimeter lighting can transform your garden, is relatively low cost to run and nowadays offers many lighting options.

LED lighting is very popular for decking as the lighting can produce dramatic effects and are available in a range of colour options – another advantage to garden lighting is you can choose from different effects that would not be an option within the home.

Other popular options for garden lighting include low voltage lamps for use on driveways. Many of these lamps enable you to walk over or drive over them without fear of damage. These are known as recessed lighting.

Whatever lighting you opt for, it is important that a qualified, competent electrician installs your garden lighting for you especially if you are looking at pond, pool or water feature lighting. Remember that water and electricity do not mix!

I see many dangerous outdoor electrical works on properties throughout Cwmbran and Abergavenny. There are increasing numbers of people who are prepared to tinker with outdoor lighting as the perception of fire decreases with outside installations. Remember with outdoor installations, resistance to weather is a must – the correct cables and sockets must be used and these are just the basics.

Only last week I saw outdoor lighting installed using cables for use indoors. The cable had been left exposed to the elements and had someone like a child had touched the cable, they would have received an electric shock as the cable had no protection at all.

Incorrect cable also deteriates quickly leading to shock and is dangerous when in use.

Always ensure you use the services of a suitably qualified registered electrician to carry out garden lighting and power to outbuildings.

You can then relax and enjoy your social gatherings with friends and family with peace of mind that electrically you are safe.

Consumer Units

Having made the decision to replace your old fuse board, it is important to ensure that this important job is completed by a competent electrician.

Think of your fuse board as the main hub of your home – its the ‘thinking centre’ to all electrical aspects in your home. If the job is carried out incorrectly, your home will be in a dangerous condition and your family is then at risk from electrical harm.

Firstly, I will outline the main reasons why you may need or want to upgrade your old fuse board to a new 17th Edition Consumer Unit:

You are having some other electrical work carried out and need to comply with the regulations. Your old fuse board is overloaded and starting to cause problems for the remainder of the installation. Your wiring installation is in poor condition but you cannot afford a rewire, changing to a 17th Edition Consumer Unit will offer some protection.

Whatever the reason upgrading an old consumer unit to one incorporating two residual current devices (RCDs), is a job that many people will now have to consider at some point.

The above points may have been raised by another tradesperson in your home such as a builder if are having a large building project undertaken.

Please DO NOT be tempted into hiring anyone who IS NOT a qualified electrician to carry out electrical work in your home, even if they offer to carry out the work for a fraction of the price because ‘they know all about electrics’

Its not just the price that counts, a competent electrician will be fully qualified, part P compliant and fully insured to do the job AND have a lengthy guarantee on the job for years to come.

If the person fitting the consumer unit is not qualified, Part P compliant, and is not insured, it really is better to walk away. These people are not interested in your safety or future well being, they are only interested in your cash!

Yet over the years I have come across the same objections about price when quoting for a replacement consumer unit /fuse board. They normally go as follows…

“I can buy one myself for £80 in a well known DIY Shop, My mate that works for %%%%%% can do it for £xxx, I’ve had a quote from my builder and he reckons he can do it for £xxx,

Mick down the pub said if I get the board he’ll fit it for £50”

 

Please don’t believe anyone who say you don’t need a certificate or dis-regards the importance of certification. Not only if an electrical certificate your peace of mind that your home is safe, it is also an important document that is needed should you wish to sell or let your home in the future.

It is not simply a peace of paper signed by the electrician, it is a legal document and the electrician needs to carry out several tests on the installation before they can issue a certificate.

The Electrician who carries out the installation should also issue the certificate. BEWARE some ‘electricians’ employ someone else to issue the certificate. This practice is NOT APPROVED and means your electrician is not Part P compliant.

So having obtained a quote from a genuine electrician, you might be wondering how they arrive at the cost.

 

So what is the Cost?

When you ask an Electrician to quote for a Fuse Board/New Consumer Unit, there are a number of things he will take into consideration, therefore costs will vary. You should be aware of these:

 

The materials involved

You can now go to a high street hardware/DIY shop and buy new Consumer Units for a reasonable amount of money, they come preloaded with MCBs, which may or may not be the right rating for your circuits, you will have to add to that the cost of Meter Tails and the fact that if anything goes wrong with the unit you will need to pay to have it removed and a new one refitted.

 

On the other hand your electrician will have accounted for all necessary items required and if he supplies the board it will be of good quality and if anything goes wrong with the unit he will have to replace it at no cost to you. You only Pay Once.

 

Checking earthing and bonding arrangements

Before the consumer unit is changed, the electrician will have checked the distributor’s equipment at the origin of the installation (where your meter is) along with the earthing and bonding arrangements. This is to ensure that they are properly connected, safe and that they comply with the regulations. If they do not then work may have to be postponed until the distributor rectifies any issues highlighted.

 

The time involved for installation

This will depend on the size of the property, number of circuits and location of the old fuse board. Stripping out the old, marking up cables ensuring they are in good condition and long enough then installing the New Consumer Unit.

 

The time involved in Testing

All of the circuits in the property will have to be tested, there is a series of predefined tests that must be applied to each of the circuits, and the results of this testing form a big part of the certification you will receive.

This is perhaps the most important part of changing a Fuse Board, however it is often the part that is not carried out correctly or at all by those who charge below market value for installing a new Consumer Unit. Often they will Fudge the test and fake the certificate, because they haven’t allowed time in their cost to do it correctly or they just are not capable of testing to the correct standard.

 

Allowance for Fault Finding

A good electrician will have built in an allowance for some Fault Finding because experience tells us that there are often minor issues that need to be resolved, if this has been built into the cost then often the electrician will not bother you with the detail, but will just rectify simple faults as found. Major faults would be notified to you and be discussed as a separate Job.

Again someone who is quoting below market value will not have factored in time for fault finding and you run two serious risks here. The first is that you are likely to be presented with an “Extras” bill at the end which could be substantially higher than your original quote or secondly the “electrician” will bodge the job in order to make it work so he can get paid his original fee, the result is you are left with a potentially dangerous installation.

 

 Certification and Registration

Electricians have to comply with strict regulations, a change of consumer unit is a serious undertaking and must meet all of the relevant Standards and Regulations, in order to comply with these Electricians will issue Certification for both the Electrical Installation and for Compliance with Part “P” of the Building Regulations. Apart from the fact that doing this properly takes time, it also requires the electrician to be registered with an awarding body and all the associated costs that go with that, such as ongoing training, insurance, membership fees.

Profit

And finally we get to Profit, which is after all why any Electrician is in Business. A good electrician who runs a good business will have built in a profit margin into his quote for the job, this is how he stays in business and can provide a good service to his clients, he will be happy to take payment in any legal manner.

Your cheap quote electrician, will not have factored in profit, because in his mind it is pretty much all profit, he will supply a cheap quality consumer unit, fudge the test results, hide any faults that show up and then tell you he prefers to be paid in cash.

He is likely not registered, not insured and possibly not even qualified. If anything goes wrong and it will you have absolutely no comeback.

 

Conclusion

When you take all of the above into consideration, you will appreciate that there is a big difference between what you can buy a Consumer Unit for off-the-shelf in a well known DIY Chain, and the cost of a fully installed fully certified and fully guaranteed Unit. You should ask yourself when you get a cheap quote “How can he do it so Cheap”?…what is not getting done…

Most reputable electricians would agree that anything below £350 is too cheap and something is being missed and anything above £550 for a standard domestic board is too high (unless there are mitigating circumstances).

Everyone knows that most homeowners are watching the pennies at the moment, don’t let CHEAP prices sway your decision look into what you are getting for your money.

Electrical Hazards In The Home

Research available from the electrical safety body, the NICEIC, has found that the public are mostly unaware of the electrical dangers lurking in their homes. Householders that were questioned had electrical hazards in their homes including exposed bare wires, loose cables, old wiring and overloaded sockets.

 

The research also shows a considerable level of ignorance about the condition of home electrics. 40% of people had no idea about the age of the wiring within their home and 1 in 5 said their wiring was as much as 30 years old. More than half of those questioned did not know how often house wiring should be checked by a qualified electrician, despite faulty electrics being responsible for an average of 12,500 house fires, 750 serious injuries and 10 deaths each year.

 

Your electrical system ages and degrades over time and with use, you have an MOT yearly for your car, an occasional medical check-up for yourself and yet you will live in a building surrounded by an electrical installation that could potentially be a death trap. A simple Electrical Inspection carried out by a qualified electrician can easily put your mind to rest.

 

There are two forms of testing that can be carried out and each have their own benefits and merits:

 

A Visual Inspection – A brief look at the main components of your installation, with the electrician providing his/her professional opinion. This would be accompanied with a one or two page report.

 

A Full Periodic Inspection (in service inspection and test) – A comprehensive inspection and testing of your installation, cables will be tested to see if they have degraded since being installed, a full report approximately five to six pages often including photographs should be provided.

 

A Visual Inspection should cost you between £85 to £100 whilst a Full Periodic Inspection should be between £120 and £150,electricians prices may vary  (however if you are quoted less, then be aware that they may not be allowing enough time to complete the inspection correctly).  Always ensure that you use a qualified and registered electrician.