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What Is An Eicr?
EICR stands for Electrical Installation Condition Report and is a report on the condition of the wiring and fixed installations in a building, such as boilers and heated towel rails.
Many people are unaware that wiring degenerates over time. This is probably because we never see it. Wiring is hidden away behind walls and in ceilings, and although it is a critical part of the building, we don’t ever think about it. We switch on a lamp and the lamp lights up. We switch on the kettle and it boils the water. We switch on the cooker and it heats up and we cook our food.
What we never, ever, think about is what it is that makes all those things happen, and even if we do consider it, we don’t worry about how the electricity gets to where we want it to be. And even if we did think about those things, 99% of us never consider that the wiring along which the electricity runs could possibly deteriorate. But the fact is that it can and does. The rate of deterioration will depend on the frequency of use, the working environment, and the amount of maintenance carried out, if any.
An EICR should be carried out on a regular basis in order to ensure the safety of the building and its’ occupants. There is no specific law about the frequency of testing, although there are several laws that deal with health and safety. Not the least of these is the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. This states among other things, "As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger". The responsible person is required to maintain the electrical systems in good and safe working order. Obviously, the only way to know the condition of the electrical wiring is to have it tested by a qualified electrician. Once the system has been inspected the inspector will issue an EICR certificate.
How can you test the wiring if you cannot see it? One answer is thermal imaging. The inspector will use a powerful infrared camera which detects heat. Electric wiring and other parts that are damaged or showing some signs of damage will give off heat. The thermal imaging camera will pick these up and the inspector will be able to determine whether the wiring is giving off a worrying amount of heat, and if it is will be able to tell what needs to be done. Thermal imaging doesn’t mean there is a need to switch off any power systems, so is ideal for premises where that cannot be done, such as in a hospital.
How often should an EICR – also known as a fixed wire test – be carried out? In industrial establishments it is recommended that it be done every three years. In other commercial premises, every five years, and in domestic premises every ten. These are recommendations: there is no specific law about them. The age of the property should also be taken into account, as if a property is older it becomes necessary to carry out an inspection more frequently.
There are some other things which affect the frequency of inspection. One of these is if the property has a heated swimming pool. This requires testing annually, but only the part relating to the pool itself. Environmental conditions can have an effect, and so can damage caused by, for example, vandalism.
Another factor is change of use of the premises. In a domestic property this could be simply a change of occupant. It is highly recommended in rented premises that the electrical installation should be tested every time there is a change of tenant in order to ensure that the system is safe. Similarly, if you are purchasing a property you can request an EICR to be carried out so that you know the condition of the wiring and if any work needs to be carried out. An EICR certificate will point out any faults and highlight any remedial work that is necessary.
Having an EICR carried out is not very expensive. You would have your boiler serviced every year, as well as your car, and an EICR makes just as much sense.
Hawkesworth Appliance Testing carries out PAT testing and can also test the fixed wiring and issue an EICR certificate. The company has over 100 qualified engineers working nationally.
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