Electrical Safety In The Home


Every Year about 6700 fires are reported as having an electrical source, which includes faulty or inadequate wiring.

These fires, along with electric shock accidents cause around 43 fatalities and 2900 serious injuries every year. Cables, switches, socket-outlets and other equipment can get worn over time and so it is important to get them checked and replaced by a qualified electrician.

If you are carrying out electrical work in your home or garden in England and Wales you now have to follow the new rules in the Building Regulations which came into effect on 1 January 2005. This is a new area for the Building Regulations and is called Part P (electrical safety). You may also need to use a competent person to comply with Building Regulations.

What you need to know
It is important that electrical work is carried out only by those with the necessary knowledge, skill and experience of the type of electrical work to be undertaken.
The following organisations run registration or 'competent person' schemes:

  • BRE Certification.
  • British Standards Institution ( BSI ).
  • ELECSA - The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT).
  • NICEIC Certification Services - These schemes are designed to ensure that traders who sign up are fully qualified to do electrical work and provides a proper complaints procedure.

Why have the rules been introduced?
The rules have been set up to:

  • Reduce the number of deaths, injuries and fires caused by faulty electrical installations.
  • Make it harder for 'cowboy builders' to leave electrical installations in an unsafe condition.

What will happen if you do not follow the regulations?
If you do not follow the regulations, you run the risk that:

  • The electrical installation might not be safe.
  • You will have no record of the work done.
  • You may have difficulty selling your home if you do not have the right electrical safety certificates.
  • Your local council's Building Control Department may insist that you put right faulty work.

Notifying the council about your electrical work.
You don't need to tell your local council's Building Control Department about:

  • Repairs, replacements and maintenance work.
  • Extra power points or lighting points or other alterations to existing circuits (except in a kitchen or bathroom, or outdoors).

You will need to tell them about almost all other work!
If you are not sure about this, ask your local contractor or Local Council's Building Control Officer.

Finding an Electrician
The benefits of using a registered installer are:

  • Members of schemes can deal with all the new rules for you.
  • Members for are qualified to carry out electrical work.
  • Members will give you a certificate to confirm their work follows the new rules.
  • You will not have to pay building control charges.
  • You will have the option of taking out an insurance-backed guarantee for the work.
  • You will have access to a formal complaints procedure if you are not happy with the work.
  • Always use an installer who is registered with a competent person scheme as mentioned above.

In 2006, new a colour scheme is being introduced for cabling.
The colours of the live and neutral wires in electrical cables are changing from red and black to brown and blue. This is the same as the wires in flexible leads to portable appliances.
You can continue to use cables in the old colours of red and black until 31 March 2006. After that, all new wiring must be in the new colours.

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