Why is PAT important?

PAT is the testing of any portable electrical appliance that you may have in your home or business. This includes any items which plug into the mains supply such as charging equipment, microwaves and printers. It is a very important service as PAT testing provides the evidence of due diligence, especially if you are a business owner or a landlord as it ensures that all your equipment is safe according to the current Health and Safety legislation. By having regular tests you also guarantee that your insurance remains valid.

Some of the common electrical faults found by our PAT engineer are broken plugs, burnt-out plugs and overloaded sockets and extensions as seen below…


 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these examples of electrical faults can be extremely hazardous in any environment as they can cause dangers such as electrical shocks and fires, both of which can be potentially fatal. Therefore it is very important to ensure regular Portable Appliance Tests to protect your business, employees, home and family – a service which we offer with a price plan to suit any home or business, just take a look at our PAT page for more details… http://morganselectrical.com/self-help-guides/portable-appliance-testing-pat/

We recommend that you have your appliances tested annually, so if you think your property or premises is ready for its PAT, give us a call on 01525 213103.  

Dangers of Cheap Phone Chargers

Are your device chargers safe to use?

Apple gadgets are so popular now that it is no surprise that there are also many cheaper versions of them. Cheap ‘Apple’ chargers are being produced in China for as little as the equivalent of 3 pence and although these may be a cheap alternative to buying the real thing, they carry a huge electrical safety risk. According to the Electrical Safety Council, during a period of 6 to 8 weeks, Buckingham Trading Standards seized more than 3600 unsafe chargers from retailers in 2009, yet despite recent efforts to reduce the amount of these products, many people each year are still putting their lives at risk by using them. The ESC investigated this problem by testing new and second-hand cheap chargers and they found that none of the chargers met the principle safety regulations set out by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
Tim Gillooley from Cheshire received an electric shock from his daughter’s fake iPad charger as he pulled it out of the plug socket. He was thrown across the room and left with blackened fingers as a result of the shock.
These types of incidents are happening across the world as a result of fake chargers so don’t be caught out; always use the brand of charger that matches your phone so you don’t risk electrocution.

Sources:
http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/electrical-professionals/product-safety-unit/plug-in-chargers/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2406185/Fake-Apple-Cheap-phone-chargers-burn-house.html

Plug Fuses

How much do you know about plug fuses?

Are you confused about which size of fuse should be in the plug for your household or office appliances? Well there are two main varieties of fuses in a plug – a 3A or 13A fuse and once you know the difference, it is not hard to know which fuse you need to use with your appliances, and it can make your home or workplace a lot safer!

• 3A fuses are needed for any appliances up to 700 watts (such as lamps, televisions, computers, fridges, freezers and blenders).

• 13A fuses are needed if your appliances are use over 700 watts (such as washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, kettles and irons).

How do I check which fuse I have?

Checking which fuse you have is really easy! Some plugs will tell you on the casing, however if this is not the case, all you have to do is unscrew the casing and take a look at the writing on the fuse in the plug (the fuse is the cylinder part!)

Overloaded plug sockets

Do you use a socket extension lead or adaptor somewhere in your home or business?  Most of us do these days because we have so many plug in appliances and often don’t have enough wall sockets to run everything.  However, how do you know if you are overloading a socket?  You may think that if you have an extension with 4 outlets that this means you can plug any 4 appliances into it but this isn’t the case and is widely misunderstood.  Our electricians often see multiple extensions/adaptors plugged into each other running all sorts of appliances including heaters, kettles and other such high power appliances.  It’s frightening when you realise that the original wall socket into which these extensions and appliances are plugged is only designed to take a load of 13 Amps.  An extension lead or adaptor allows you to plug more than one appliance into a wall socket but the total load of those appliance must not be more than 13 Amps otherwise you risk overheating and could possibly cause a fire.  A kettle is 13 Amps on its own so should never be run off an extension lead with other appliances being used off it at the same time.  Whereas PCs, printers, telephones, routers, etc. are generally low power appliances so it’s not a problem to have them running from one extension lead.  You can try the new electrical safety council ‘Socket Overload Calculator’ now available on our website to check the power rating and load of appliances you have plugged in together on your extension leads or adaptors … try it now, it’s really quite interesting!

 

 

Changes to Part P – April 2013

In a previous blog, I mentioned that there would be some changes to Part P in April.  Just to clarify first of all, Part P of the building regulations covers electrical installations in residential properties:

  • houses and flats
  • communal areas of blocks of flats
  • external areas of the above inc garages and outbuilding, garden ponds,etc
  • business premises which share the same meter as residential flats

Part P does not apply to business premises with separate metering to a dwelling.

Part P requires that all electrical installation work complies to the standard set out in the Building Regulations. It also requires certain works to electrical installations to be notified to the local authority and it’s the type of work that needs to be notified that has been amended:

  • installation of a new circuit (e.g. when having an extension)
  • installation of a new consumer unit
  • addition or alteration to a circuit in a special location (bathroom, shower room, sauna, swimming pool)

So additions, alterations, repairs or replacement of existing wiring, not in a special location, is no longer notifiable.

However, this does not mean that non-notifiable work can just be completed by anyone!  It is still a legal requirement that all electrical installation work is carried out by a competent person in compliance with Part P of the Building Regulations.  The best way to achieve this is to use a qualified electrician who is a member of a competent person scheme such as ELECSA.

If we can help with any of your home improvement projects, please give us a call on 01525 213103 to arrange  free estimate.

 

Counterfeit Electrical Goods

Happy new year to all our readers!  Christmas is over for another year and all the houses that were decked in Christmas lights are returning to normal and I breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t see any of them going up in smoke!

It’s probably a symptom of being married to an electrician, but every time I saw a house covered in lights I just couldn’t help wondering where everything was plugged in to and how safe it all was.

In October, I wrote about the safe use of extension leads & adaptors and also asked what a Residual Current Device (RCD) is and I’d just like to reiterate the importance of not overloading sockets with too many adaptors and plugs and of avoiding linking extension leads together. I also talked about buying electrical accessories and devices from a reputable supplier and ensuring they conform to British Standards.

It’s sale time at the moment and there are lots of bargains to be had if you buy products on-line.  However, please be aware that you could be purchasing counterfeit products that are substandard and dangerous. Whilst you might save a few pounds you’ll almost certainly put your safety at risk, if not your life.

When you think of counterfeit goods you probably imagine DVDs, or luxury items, like Rolex watches and designer clothes & accessories. Electrical goods – extension leads, RCDs, switches, etc. – are probably the last things that spring to mind. Unfortunately, counterfeiters have realised there is a massive market to be exploited and are happy to turn out huge volumes of substandard products in order to make enormous profits.

It’s something the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) and Voltimum, the UK Electrical Industry Portal, have recognised as a serious issue. They work closely with Trading Standards and campaign tirelessly to raise awareness of the problem.

An article on their Counterfeit Kills blog site states that since 2000, BEAMA’s Electric Dragon Campaign has “…resulted in over 12 million counterfeit products being seized and destroyed [including] plugs, sockets and switches, circuit protection equipment (eg circuit breakers), fuses and safety critical devices like RCDs.

Many of these items were destined for the UK market, and the potential consequences of their use just don’t bear thinking about.

It’s not a cheery subject, I know. But it’s something I think people should be aware of, so I make no apologies.

I wish you a very safe and prosperous new year.

What is an RCD?

What is an RCD?

An RCD (Residual Current Device) is a safety device that switches electricity off immediately if there is a fault and it therefore provides protection against electric shock and potential death.  I always thought that an RCD was just some sort of safety plug that you used with your lawn mower and didn’t understand that there are a number of different types of RCD.  Also, I hadn’t realised just how important these devices are.

There are 3 main types of RCD:

Fixed RCDs are installed in your consumer unit (or fuse board) and this provides the best protection as it covers all sockets and appliances on the circuit connected through it.

Socket-outlet RCDs replace standard sockets and protect only a person in contact with equipment plugged into the socket.

Portable RCDs are plugged into any socket and then an appliance can be plugged into the portable RCD to provide protection.  This is the one I had come across as they are most commonly used for appliances used outdoors such as lawn mowers.

I read an article from the Electrical Safety Council recently and in it they provide some frightening statistics which highlight the need for RCDs.  Every week someone in the UK dies in their home through an electrical-related accident and thousands of people are injured every year.  In addition to this, 50% of fires in homes (around 21,000) are attributed to electrical faults.  Almost all electrocutions in the home and 20% of the fires above could be prevented if Fixed RCDs were installed at the fuse board.  Half of the homes in the UK don’t have this RCD protection installed.

If you’ve had a rewire recently or had a new fuse board installed the chances are that you’ll have built in RCD protection but if you’re not sure, ask your Part P approved electrician to take a look for you.  If you don’t currently have fixed RCD protection you may wish to consider upgrading to a new fuse board with built-in RCDs.  As a minimum, please use portable RCDs for any equipment used outside or near water e.g. lawn mowers, hedge cutters, etc.   Using RCD protection could save your life!

Extension leads and adaptors

Extension leads and adaptors – how to use them safely

We have so much electrical equipment in our homes these days that most of us use electrical extension leads and adaptors.  We never seem to have enough sockets in the right places!  But what are the dangers with using extension leads and adapters and how can you make sure you are using them safely?

All too often our team comes across daisy chains of extension leads or adapters piled up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa,  running a number of high current appliances such as electric heaters, kettles, irons and tumble dryers.  Overloading circuits in this way increases the risk of fire.  But this is not the only risk.  Cable damage is common with extension leads and this can lead to one of the conductors failing which can result in electric shock.

So, here are my tops tips for the safe use of extension leads:

  1. Don’t use extension leads and adaptors unless you have to.  Where possible, ask an electrician to fit more sockets for you.
  2. Be aware of the maximum loading for the adaptor or extension lead and the rating of appliances you are plugging into them.  A typical extension lead has a maximum loading of 13A.  Don’t overload with more than one high current appliance.
  3. If you do need to use an extension lead, buy one from a reputable retailer and make sure any adaptor used complies with British Standards.
  4. It’s advisable not to use an extension cable that exceeds 15m.  If you use a cable drum extension lead, unwind the cable from the drum completely before use to avoid the cable overheating
  5. Avoid trailing leads under carpets and rugs as this may result in damage to the cable.  Where a lead has to cross an area where people walk, cover the lead with a rubber protector.
  6. Never be tempted to join two lengths of flex by twisting the bared ends of wires together, even if you bind them with insulating tape!
  7. Always check that leads, plugs and sockets are undamaged before use.  If there are any burn marks on a lead, plug or socket, do not use and seek advice from your electrician.

It’s ok to use an extension lead for low current appliances such as your TV, DVD, etc but it’s always safer to plug one appliance into one socket.  As a guide, it should never cost you more than around £75* to have an extra double socket fitted.

Next time I’ll be talking about RCDs – what they are and how they can prevent electrical shock.

*subject to survey

Part P

Part P – what is it and why is it important?

Part P refers to the section of the building regulations concerned with the design and installation of electrical installations.  Since January 2005, it has been a requirement for anyone carrying out electrical work in homes and gardens in England and Wales to follow rules defined in Part P. These rules protect you from unsafe electrical wiring and require certain electrical jobs to be notified to the local authority building control before work commences.  However, if you use a Part P Approved electrician, they will deal with all the rules for you.  You can be assured that their work has been assessed and they are qualified and competent to carry out your electrical work.

There are other benefits to using a Part P approved electrician though.

Last week I was approached by a customer who asked if we could sort out an electrical problem that had left unresolved by another electrician.  I’m not one for turning work away but by first response was to ask the customer what response they had from the electrician when they asked them to come back and sort the problem out.  They had not been able to get hold of the electrician so had given up in frustration.  The electrical work concerned was notifiable work so I asked if the customer had used a Part P approved electrician.   My reason for asking is that a Part P approved electrician will be registered with an approval organisation.  For example, Morgans Electrical is registered with ELECSA.  The approval bodies require members to have a complaints procedure in place and importantly, they must respond to complaints raised by putting right the issue.  As a consumer, if this approach does not work, the approval body will take up the matter on your behalf and ensure the issue is put right, if necessary using another competent electrician.  In this instance, armed with this knowledge the customer was able to resolve the issue with the original electrician.

It’s also worth noting that when you have notifiable work completed though a Part P approved electrician, you will receive a certificate confirming that the work completed complies with the Building Regulations.  This certificate is important if you want to sell your home as it provides proof that your electrical installation is safe and meets with current regulations.