You cannot see electricity. Cables are usually hidden inside our walls, and consumer units are often hidden in cupboards, so it is not surprising that we forget to check the condition of our electrical installation for damage or wear and tear.Faulty and old wiring is one of the main causes or electrical fires in the home. You can reduce the risk of a fire by checking the condition of your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories regularly.
How old is my electrical installation?
- Clear signs that can help you tell the age of equipment in the electrical installation in your home include:
- Fixed cables coated in black rubber (stopped being used in the 1960s).
- Fixed cables coated in lead or fabric (used before the 1960s).
- A fuse box with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a mixture of fuse boxes (used before the 1960s).
- Older round pin sockets (or light switches), braided flex hanging from ceiling roses, brown (or black) switches, or sockets mounted in or no skirting boards (used before the 1960s).
- Light switches on the walls or in bathrooms (used before the 1960s).
- However old your electrical installation is, it may get damaged and will suffer from wear and tear. So you should get an electrician to check its condition at least every 10 years or when you move into a new property.
What is the aim of a condition report?
The five main aims of a condition report are:
- Record the results of the inspection and testing to make sure the electrical installation is safe to be used until the next inspection (following any work needed to make it safe)
- Find any damage and wear and tear that might affect safety, and report it
- Find any parts of the electrical installation that do not meet the IET Wiring Regulations
- Help find anything that may cause electric shocks and high temperatures
- Provide and important record of the installation at the time of the inspection, and for inspection testing in the future.
Types of condition report
In general, there are two types of domestic electrical installation condition report:
- Visual condition report - this does not include testing and is only suitable if the installation has been testing recently.
- Periodic inspection reports - this is what we would normally recommend, as it tests the installation and would find any hidden damage.
Who should produce your condition report?
Only registered electricians such as Integration Electrical Ltd should be relied upon to produce reliable and accurate reports.
Sean bought his first house last year and was thrilled to get onto the property ladder. However, he explains that his excitement was short-lived:
"A few months after moving in my fusebox started sparking so once I had managed to switch it off I called an electrician over for some advice. I’ve now had to fork out almost £10,000 to cover the cost of the damage and to rewire the entire house. I can’t help thinking that all this could have been avoided if I had just had an Electrical Installation Condition Report done before buying my home"
The average cost to fix an electrical problem identified after moving into a property is £1,704. But as Sean's story shows, it could be much higher. And as around 70 people die and 350,000 are seriously injured as a result of electricity each year, you could be saving more than just money by getting the electrics checked.