As an electrician, I have carried out hundreds of electrical safety checks over the last decade. Although the locations vary a lot, one thing they all have in common is that I can tell within the first ten minutes of arriving whether the electrical safety check is going to go smoothly or if it is going to turn into a slog of a day.
How can I tell so quickly? I’ve discovered that there are a few tell-tale signs that give away how prepared a customer is that makes all the difference. I’ll quickly point out that’s not to say I blame the customer at all, after all, how are they suppose to know what to expect, it’s more a failure on our end for not giving enough information in advance! With this in mind, if you are considering, how can I prepare for an EICR? these 5 steps will have you on the way to being ranked as one of the electrician’s favourite customers!
How To Prepare For an Electrical Safety Check (EICR)
An electrical safety check, or EICR as it’s often called, can be daunting for customers but it need not be a stressful experience. The 5 best ways to prepare for an EICR are,
- Allow access to every room in the house
- Make every electrical outlet accessible (within reason)
- Get the hotspot ready!
- Be prepared for a long day
- Get your questions ready in advance to save kicking yourself afterwards
I think I would be right in saying that some of those points may seem obvious to some but come as a bit of a surprise to others. They’re all pretty self-explanatory but it is worth looking at them briefly in more detail below as a couple of extra bits of knowledge can make all the difference, and get the electrician out of your hair much quicker!
Allow Access To Every Room
An electrical safety inspection requires visually inspecting and testing every circuit in the home. This means that alongside being able to have clear access to the consumer unit (fuse board) all bedrooms, bathrooms, attics, sheds and outhouses with power will need to be visited during the test.
In the majority of homes, I visit this is no problem; but there have been occasions when we have had to wait whilst a less than patient mum shouts to her teenage son to get out of bed for the umpteenth time, as they thought we only needed access to the consumer unit downstairs.
Have Access To Every Electrical Point (Within Reason)
This is similar to the first point but worth its own mention so as not to cause alarm. In a perfect world, the electrician testing the property will be able to access every single electrical outlet, even the sockets that are long forgotten behind the heavy wardrobe!
In reality, this can be difficult, and the regulations understand this. An electrician can make a judgement, test a percentage of the outlets and record a limitation of access in some circumstances. This really is down to the individual electrician carrying out the test and how happy they are with the safety of the installation.
When we sign a test form we are personally stating that the electrical systems are safe. Any electrician is going to want to visually see and test as many outlets as is reasonably practical. If they are unable to access many points they may record an unsatisfactory (ie fail) on the report.
Charge Devices and get Hotspot Ready
I like to think I’m quite a positive guy. I really enjoy interacting with different customers and that connection with people is one of my favourite parts of the job. This is why it breaks my heart to see the look on some customers’ faces when I have to break the news that they are going to be losing wifi connection.
Many homeowners correctly assume that the power will need to be turned off for the duration of the testing time, so while the laptop sits fully charged, most forget the wifi router needs power to work. Trying to work from home is almost impossible during the EICR but if really needed making sure you can hotspot from your phone is the best way forward in my opinion.
Be Prepared to be in it For the Long Haul
Electrical safety checks usually take around 3 to 4 hours to complete depending on the size of the house (I wrote an article on the time it takes depending on different factors linked here) However it’s important to remember that this is a guide and there really is no way of knowing exactly how long it is all going to take until we start work and see what the installation is like.
Once the inspection has started it’s best just to allow the electricians to take the time that they need. Even though I get frustrated when the mechanic says my car is going to be ready and I’m standing there waiting, I would rather he takes his time and doesn’t rush fixing my breaks! Electrical safety is a serious matter and it’s better to take time than to rush and miss something important.
Get Plenty of Questions Written Down (and Don’t be Afraid to Ask!)
Knowing your reason for having the safety check carried out in the first place is a great starting point for writing down the questions that you would like to ask the electricians whilst they are there, especially if you are having the check done before selling the property. Pointing out areas of concern at the start is hugely beneficial and the electrician will be glad of the input, after all, no one knows the quirks of a house like the owners.
At the end, when the paperwork is being handed over, is also a great time to ask questions and clarify what different aspects of the report mean. An EICR can be pretty confusing but all good electricians will take the time to sit down and break it down into easy-to-understand language. Even if the report is a fail, don’t panic and just discuss reasons why and options for putting things right.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of change and the unknown is always a little daunting to me. To compensate I try and gain a bit of insight in advance to help ease any anxiety. Whilst having your house wiring tested shouldn’t be anxiety-inducing, I can see why it may make some people a little apprehensive so hopefully, these 5 ways to prepare for an EICR will ease the burden a little and help the work proceed much more smoothly.