Electrical Inspection and Testing is a procedure completed by qualified electricians to ensure that electrical installations comply with BS 7671 wiring regulations. Not to comply is a criminal offence and could result in a hefty fine or imprisonment.
Within BS 7671, Regulation 610.1 states that "every installation shall, during erection and on completion before being put into service be inspected and tested to verify, so far as reasonably practicable, that the requirements of the regulations have been met."
In plain language, every installation whether an addition, alteration or new shall be inspected and tested to ensure that it is safe and fit for purpose. To comply with this regulation, qualified electricians must complete a full inspection and testing procedure.
- In the case of a new electrical installation, the procedure is followed by the completion of the Electrical Installation Certificate.
- In the case of an alteration of an existing electrical installation, the procedure is followed by the completion of a Minor Electrical Work Certificate.
Regulation 621.1 states that "where required, periodic inspection and testing of every electrical installation shall be carried out in accordance with regulations 621.2 to 621.5 in order to determine as far as reasonably practicable, whether the installation is in a satisfactory condition for continued service".
This regulation relates to electrical installations which are not newly built or altered. In this case a periodic inspection is to be carried out. Together with visual inspection it consists of a full inspection and testing procedure and is followed by the completion of the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).
These certificates are documents which must be kept by both the "person ordering the work" (i.e.: owner) and the "competent person"(qualified electrician) completing the inspection and testing procedure. In the case of Landlords these documents must also be given to the tenant and Local Authority if requested.
The procedures for periodic inspection and testing differ in some respects from those for inspecting an electrical installation which is a new build/alteration. This is because the electrical installation has usually been in use for some time and therefore particular attention needs to be given to its condition in respect of:
- Wear and tear
- Damage and deterioration
- Excessive loading
- External influences
- Suitability (taking into account any changes in use or building extensions etc)
To comply with BS7671 the inspection and testing procedure itself must be completed by qualified electricians and consists of both visual inspection and tests carried out with the help of suitable testing equipment, such as the Megger 1553 multifunctional tester.
Defects and non-compliances with BS 7671 will need to be recorded in detail. These items will need to be awarded a code. These codes are C1, C2, C3 and FI.
This code is appropriate for an item where there is danger present, such as an exposed live part. In which case, the inspector should advise the client of this condition without delay so that immediate action can be taken to reduce the hazard.
This code is for a ‘potentially dangerous’ condition where the defect or departure is close to becoming a ‘dangerous condition’ but it requires another event. An example of this is an unearthed Class I light fitting where it is not immediately dangerous but a live conductor touching the metal casing would make it dangerous as that part would be live and the circuit protection would not operate.
This defect means ‘improvement recommended’. An example of this may be missing warning labels.
This means ‘further investigation’. This is appropriate where the inspector cannot come to a conclusion about the safety of the installation without the need for further information or investigation. An example of this might be no main protective bonding of a Lightning Protection System (LPS), where the LPS designer or contractor needs to be consulted to verify it is appropriate and safe to bond the LPS.
Whilst there is industry guidance on the coding of defects and non-compliances it is very much a personal decision for the inspector to award a code based on their sound engineering judgement. However, the inspector must be prepared to justify their decision by putting forward their technical explanation. The award of a single Code 1, Code 2 or Code FI on an EICR must make the outcome of the report‘ unsatisfactory’.
Contact us at Upgrade Electrical to see how our inspection and testing services can help you keep your home and business safe and compliant with health and safety regulations.