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!

 

 

Think I need a new fuse board…

One of the more frequent calls we receive here at Morgans Electrical is from home owners saying ‘I think I need a new fuse board…” and as one of our electricians is out there installing another new fuse board in Bedford today I thought it might be timely to talk about when and why you might want to replace your fuse board.

First of all, the terminology for a Fuse Board differs from the domestic world to the commercial world.  You may have heard of it being called the Fuse Box or Consumer Unit and in commercial installations it’s more often referred to as the Distribution Unit.  But they all do the same thing.  They distribute the incoming power across however many electrical circuits there are in the building and use circuit breakers (or fuses on older boards) to manage the load on each circuit.

To understand your fuse board in more detail check out our guide ‘Your Fuse Board Explained’

Improvements in electrical safety over the years has meant that over time, Fuse Boards have been improved with new technology.  Today’s most up to date Fuse Boards provide RCD protection to all circuits which means that in the event of a fault, the circuit will switch off instantly preventing possible fire, electric shock or even death.  However, changing your fuse board is not something you need or want to do every time technology and regulations change!  There are still fuse boards out there which have the old re-wirable fuses in them and a property can still function OK with these.  However, these old boards don’t offer the protection against fire and/or electrocution in the event of a fault.

So when should a fuse board be replaced?

When you are making changes to your property e.g. extension

In order to gradually phase out old, out-of-date technology, wiring regulations are amended regularly.  If you have an old fuse board and want to make changes in your property that involve adding new circuits then your electrician may advise you that you need to upgrade your fuse board at the same time in order to meet the requirements of building regulations.

To improve safety in your home or business

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 20,000) are attributed to electrical faults.  Almost all electrocutions in the home and 20% of the fires above could be prevented if RCDs were installed at the fuse board.  Half of the homes in the UK don’t have this RCD protection installed.  A new fuse board would give you RCD protection across all circuits.

If you think you need a new fuse board and would like more information including costs click here.  Alternatively, call 01525 213103 now to arrange a free survey.

 

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.

 

Insurance backed warranty for Part P work

At Morgans Electrical we offer a 6-year workmanship warranty on all of our work.  We have always been confident in the quality of our work and for our customers, it gives them the reassurance that we will look after them if they do encounter a problem with any work that we have done at a later date.   So whether you have something as simple as an additional plug socket or some new down lights fitted or something more substantial such as a new consumer unit or a rewire, our warranty covers our workmanship for 6 years.

From the 2nd April this year, all work that we notify under the Part P scheme will also be covered by the new ELECSA Insurance Backed Warranty.  (Please note that not all electrical work is notifiable under the scheme – see our guide to part P for details of what is and what isn’t covered).  This is cover lasts for 6 years and is backed by Hiscox Insurance. Morgans Electrical is a registered contractor with ELECSA.  Currently, when we notify a job we’ve completed for you on the ELECSA system, your local authority is notified and a building regulations compliance certificate is generated and sent to you.  Once the new warranty comes into effect the cover will be automatic upon notification and warranty details will be printed on the certificate.  It couldn’t be more simple!  You won’t have any paperwork to complete but you will have the additional protection of an insurance backed scheme.

So what does this new warranty cover?   It gives you protection if:

  • something has gone wrong with work that has been notified and
  • the work is found to be not compliant with building regulations and
  • the contractor is not around to correct the problem (e.g. retirement, ill health, ceased trading)

However, we hope that none of our customers ever have to invoke the policy!  The scope of work covered under the Part P competent person scheme is also due to change in April so I’ll be covering this in a future blog.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about Part P and what it covers, please call us on 01525 213103.

Trading Standards Approval for Morgans Electrical

Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards department runs an approval scheme whereby companies trading within Central Bedfordshire can apply to be on their approved traders register.  The register can be found online at http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/local-business/trading-standards/approved-traders/default.aspx.

This register allows you as a consumer to see which businesses are members of the scheme before purchasing goods or services. The scheme is voluntary but Morgans Electrical decided to join the scheme as we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to customer care and fair-trading. Unlike some of the registers available on the Internet to find tradesmen, the Trading Standards team carries out a series of robust checks before approving a business.

This includes the following checks:

• The business complies with the law.

• Contract terms are fair, in plain English and clearly legible.

• Pricing is clear, and information about payment methods is provided.

• No repair or servicing work is carried out without the customer’s permission.

• Parts replaced during repair or servicing are made available for inspection.

• Itemised invoices are provided.

• The business operates an effective customer complaints procedure.

Before granting our approval, we had a visit from a Trading Standards Officer to audit our customer service processes, procedures and documentation and they also asked to see a list of recent customers from which they randomly selected six to contact and ask for feedback on our service. In addition, they also carried out criminal record/County Court judgment checks.

I’m pleased to say we passed all the checks so Morgans Electrical Ltd is now approved by Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards and we have already had our first enquiry through from a customer who found us on their website. Click here to see our certificate.

New Electrical Safety Register

When you’re looking for an electrician to carry out some work for you, it’s difficult to know who you can trust to do a good job.  TV programmes such as Rogue Traders whilst informative can leave you feeling like it’s a bit of a gamble when it comes to choosing a tradesman.

It’s also very confusing for consumers to know which trade organisation logos they should be looking out for – ELECSA, ECA and NICEIC to name a few.   All of these organisations run a competent person scheme which means that their members are assessed on a regular basis for compliance to safety regulations, building regulations and general scheme rules which include training and competence.  Whether you are a home owner or a business owner you want to know that the electrical contractor you choose is approved by one of these organisations.

To make it easier for you to find an approved contractor the Electrical Safety Council have introduced the Electrical Safety Register.  This Register provides an on-line search-able database of registered and approved electrical contractors.  This new Electrical Safety Register brings together all contractors registered with ELECSA, ECA and NICEIC.  Visit www.electricalsafetyregister.com to find approved contractors in your area.  Simply enter your postcode and your local approved contractors will be listed.  As a member of ELECSA and the ECA, Morgans Electrical Ltd can be found on this register.

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.