Maintenance Services Electrical - News & Information
How to avoid electrical fires at home
Many accidental fires at home are due to faulty or misused electrical appliances or installations. Here is some advice to help avoid these risks.
1. Install a Residual Current Device (RCD) in your fuse box that will turn off the electricity if there is a fault. You can also buy individual plug-in RCDs.
2. Have a registered electrician perform a home electric check at least every ten years, when you move home or if you have any concerns.
3. Don’t overload electrical adaptors by plugging too many appliances into one socket, especially those with a high electrical current rating such as kettles, irons and heaters.
4. Turn off any electrical appliances that you are not using, particularly at night.
5. Check the condition of cables for your electrical appliances and don’t use them if they show signs of damage.
6. Check electric sockets regularly. It there are signs of burning or they feel hot stop using them and call a qualified electrician to repair or replace them.
Keep safe using appliances
Only buy your washing machines, tumble dryers, fridge-freezers and dishwashers from reputable retailers and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t leave your appliances running overnight or while you are out. If you have any concerns that your appliances aren’t working properly turn them off, unplug them and have them checked by a qualified engineer.
Registering your products
In the UK, recalls for electrical products only have a 10 to 20% success rate. Make sure you register your appliances so that manufacturers can get in touch with you if there’s a problem.
Visit Electrical Safety First’s product registration page for more information and to register your electrical products.
You can also find out if any of your products have been recalled on the Electrical Safety First website.
Please get in touch if you would like to arrange an electrical inspection your home.
Fire risk and recessed downlights
Incorrectly installed halogen downlights can lead to heat build-up. When we were installing replacement LED downlights in the bathroom (shown here), we discovered these badly heat damaged halogen units. The loft insulation had not been cleared around the fittings, so the cables were overheating.
Our preferred 4.4W LED downlights run at a much lower temperature, saving energy and cutting costs.
This month Elecsa, the body that assesses the competence of electricians, is urging home owners to make sure fire risks are properly managed when having recessed downlights or luminaires installed.
Where downlights are installed into a ceiling or suspended floor, it’s important to make sure that the walls, floors and ceilings provide good fire separation.
Why can downlights be a fire risk?
In most domestic properties, the biggest risk is the effect fire can have on the loadbearing capacity of the floors.
Many modern suspended floors offer a lower level of fire resistance than more traditional forms of construction and rely on the plasterboard or other linings for fire separation.
It they’re exposed to fire from below, downlighters provide less protection to a ceiling cavity than plasterboard the plasterboard they have been set in. That’s why it’s so important that ‘making good’ after downlights have been installed includes fire sealing.
Choosing your downlights
Ideally, choose downlights with integral fire protection suitable for the ceiling or floor type. However, downlights for some high level or large coverage uses might not include this level of fire protection. These should be fitted with a suitable ‘fire hood’ and cables that can withstand the temperature inside the hood. The control gear should be outside the hood. To avoid the risk of overheating, downlighters and their transformers shouldn’t be covered by thermal insulation.
If you are considering installing downlights in your home, please get in touch.
Could your home be smart?
Many people don’t install smart home technology because they think their house is too old or unsuitable.
However, being able to turn your heating or lighting on and off from a distance could help to save energy and make your life more comfortable too. If you often forget to turn appliances off, you can also use the technology to reduce the risk of something overheating or failing.
Making a start to be smart
In most cases you can simply connect a smart home hub device to your Wi-Fi router. Then you can download an app and use your smartphone to control your smart thermostats, lights and plugs, or you can use a smart speaker.
Many boilers are compatible with smart thermostats, but the manufacturer will be able to let you know.
If you’re security conscious, you can also add sensors to doors and windows to receive an alert when they are opened or closed. You can also have motion sensors.
If you’re interested in making your home smart, please get in touch.
We upgraded this domestic heating system to operate with Hive. We installed a new wiring centre, immersion and components.Click on this text to edit it.
Specifically, the new regulations include protection against:
electric shock – this includes basic protection such as insulation and should also cover fault protection.
thermal effects – there’s a new regulation recommending installation of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to reduce the risk of fire due to the effects of arcing in the final circuits of a fixed installation.
voltage disturbances - transient over-voltage protection should to be installed where over-voltage could affect commercial or industrial activity.
Power and data ducting
Here’s a neat example of how to run power and data around an office.
With multiple pillars and corners, this location for a new client wasn’t an easy installation.
Fire clips were installed in the trunking to support the cables under the new 18th Edition Wiring Regulation (BS7671) requirements.
The modern office challenge
With computers, displays, printers, mobile phones and all sorts of other electrical devices needing power, modern offices can be quite demanding.
The most frequently identified cause of fires in commercial properties is faulty electrical installations. In existing premises any re-wiring should be completed by a qualified electrician to meet the standards of the new Wiring Regulations.
We’re always happy to give advice on electrical installations in commercial premises – just give us a call.
Lighting all sorts of places
LED lighting can make your business more energy efficient and can reduce your energy use and costs by up to 80%.
Workplace studies are showing the positive effects of LED lighting, which can affect our energy, mood, and work performance.
Improved lighting in a work environment can increase performance by 3%. Add this to your energy savings and improved safety, and LED lighting looks like a good choice for businesses.
Here are some of our recent LED projects:
We had a great day working with JPL Agriservices to install a new lamppost.
Two 70W LED lamp heads direct light over a crossing and pedestrian area for improved safety.
The difference between these LED lights and every day flood lights is huge.
We helped to make this bar a brighter place using LED adhesive strips.
The effect is dimmable for a nice evening effect (on the right).
We can have them made to measure and they can be any length. They’re great for kitchens, cupboards and small reveals.
These new requirements will start with new tenancies in the first year and will then be extended on a phased basis over the following year. They could come into effect as early and June this year.
Local councils expect to be given power to impose fines of up to £30,000 on landlords who rent out poor quality properties.
New safety plans for rented properties
The Government has now responded to the results of its public consultation last spring on electrical safety in the private rented sector (PRS).
The main conclusions include:
introducing legislation to make electrical safety checks of rented properties compulsory every five years
new guidance for landlords to make clear the qualifications and competence needed to carry out the inspections in line with existing British Standards (BS7671)
enforcement of the new regulations, with significant penalties for landlords that don’t comply.
The inspections will apply to ‘electrical installations’ in a privately rented property and specifically consumer units, rather than electrical items such as kettles, for example.
LED lighting – creating the right atmosphere
We’ve just completed a lighting makeover at the Church Restaurant in Northampton in time for their relaunch.
We hope you agree that the results are stunning.
Using LEDS to create just the right level and tone of light is increasingly popular. They have been used in some of the world’s most
At St Peter’s Basilica in Rome some 780 LED luminaires have just been installed, allowing visitors to have an unprecedented view of the domes, frescoes, mosaics, paintings and statues.
For centuries these features, including Michelangelo’s painting on the 450 ft-high main dome, have been all but invisible.
The new luminaires are at heights ranging from 40 to 360 feet and have brightened up the environment by a factor of 10 in some places.
LED lighting trends
We all know that LEDs are efficient and can save us money. This year there are some new LED trends to look out for.
Fixtures – specially designed lighting installations can give indoor and outdoor spaces an impressive personality. Chandeliers and sculptures – large and small – can now deliver a wide range of colour and light levels to create dramatic effects.
Streamlines – sleek modern interiors can look impressive when complemented by seamless lighting designs. If you want to create a subtle mood rather than a design statement, hidden LEDs can create just the right results.
Toned - lighting control systems are becoming very sophisticated. You can now change the colour temperature and illumination level in almost any space. In hotels, restaurants, schools and offices it’s now possible to change to colour temperature throughout the day to relax or stimulate people.
The easiest way to register your appliances is to go to the ‘Register My Appliance’ website, which has links to all of the major electronics manufacturers. You’ll just need the brand name, model name or number, serial number and the date you bought it.
Risks from unregistered electrical appliances
New research commissioned by Electrical Safety First has found that seven fires a day in England and Wales are caused by faulty electrical appliances. However, two thirds of the electrical products we buy aren’t, registered with the manufacturer, so there’s no way we can be contacted if there’s a problem.
The electrical safety charity surveyed 5,000 adults to estimate that there are probably around 268million unregistered appliances.
Worryingly, less than a quarter of electrical items bought during the last Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and January sales period have been registered.
The most common causes of fires due to faulty appliances are washing machines and tumble dryers. However, less than 40% of us are aware of the main risks associated with recalled electrical products.
Owners are being encouraged to register all their electrical products with the manufacturer as soon as possible.
The new Wiring Regulations are now fully effective
The new Wiring Regulations 18th Edition (BS 7671) became fully effective on 1 January.
Electrical installations designed after 31 December 2018 must now comply with the new regulations.
New technologies, changes in user needs, and experiences since the previous edition have all influenced the revisions included in the new Regulations, with an even greater emphasis on electrical safety.
Some of the most significant changes include:
• requirements for surge protection devices (SPDs)
• when arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) should be installed
• cabling support and fixing requirements
• greater emphasis on protective devices, their choice and integration with the overall system
• work at public special sites such as hospitals
• energy efficiency.
Make sure you use a qualified electrician
A man from the North East of England has been given a 13-month prison sentence this month. He has posed as a registered electrician.
He claimed he was fully qualified, accredited by ELECSA and Trustmark and registered with NICEIC. None of this was true.
This rogue electrician charged £3,000 to fully rewire a property. When the homeowner challenged the quality of his work, he abandoned the project but did not return the money. The homeowner complained to Trading Standards.
The work was so poor that the electrical engineer who inspected the property said it represented a serious risk of fire and electrocution and shouldn’t be used until remedial work had been completed. It cost thousands of pounds to make sure the property was safe again. Fortunately Trading Standards, working with ELECSA, was eventually able to get the homeowner’s money returned.
The electrical world is full of letters and terms – here we explain some of them.
If the term you’re looking for isn’t here, please get in touch and we will be happy to tell you about it and add a simple explanation to our list.
AC - an abbreviation for alternating current. Electricity is all about electrons travelling through a conductor (like copper). When electrons alternately move in different directions it is an alternating current. AC current us used for homes and businesses.
DC – an abbreviation for direct current where the electrons are all moving in the same direction. DC current is used to charge batteries, for electronic systems, some industrial processes and high voltage power transmission.
Amp – the unit for measuring electrical current.
BS7671 – the UK national safety standard for electrical installations, also known as the wiring regulations.
Circuit – electricity needs to flow continuously, without any breaks, and this is called a circuit.
Consumer unit – used to control electricity. The unit will often include a main switch, fuses, circuit breakers or residual current devices (RCDs).
Current – the more electrons travelling through the conductor, the more power they deliver. Large electrical currents are dangerous.
Earth – the earth wire will direct the electricity straight into the ground rather than passing through you. Earth wires are usually marked with yellow and green striped plastic covers.
Fuse – a key part at the beginning of an electrical circuit to prevent too much electricity from passing through wiring. Often a circuit breaker will cut power when something is overloaded to prevent the cable and equipment overheating and becoming a fire hazard.
Insulation – a coating, usually plastic, around conducting materials.
IP rating – categorisation of safe lighting. For example, high IP ratings are for bathrooms or outside and lower IP ratings are for indoor lighting.
Joule – the unit for measuring electrical energy.
Live – a wire carrying electricity, commonly coated in brown plastic (note - older systems might include live wires covered with red plastic). You can receive an electrical shock from live wires.
Neutral – a neutral wire completes an electrical circuit and allows electrons to flow. Neutral wires are usually covered in blue plastic (note - older systems might use a black plastic covering).
Part P – a section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales about electrical installations in domestic properties.
Transformer – used to change voltage, to dim lighting for example.
Voltage – the unit for measuring the force of electricity moving through wires. High voltage locations are often marked as dangerous.
Watt – a unit to measure electrical power.
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