House Failed Electrical Inspection? – What To Do Next

The time is approaching when my car needs its annual inspection to check it’s safe to stay on the road, what we call in Britain an MOT. This is always a bit of a tense time for me as my old faithful Volkswagen Polo is getting on a bit now and I never know how the inspection is going to go. A big part of this uneasiness is the fact I know literally nothing about car mechanics!

When I hand over the keys to my car, I am trusting the mechanic to be honest and do a thorough job. The same is true when homeowners open up their homes to an electrician to carry out an electrical inspection. Like a failed car MOT, when your house fails an electrical inspection it can be pretty terrifying, with the thought of all that money being sucked up in repairs bills.

Fear not. Repair work for a failed electrical inspection (or failed EICR as they are often called) is often not as bad as we first fear. With a little explanation, the daunting prospect of a house that has failed its electrical inspection becomes a minor hurdle we need to jump over. This short post sets out the steps homeowners should take to move forward and get a pass the next time around.

Electrical inspections are vital for keeping homes safe and preventing fires
Electrical inspections are vital for keeping homes safe and preventing fires

House Failed Electrical Inspection

If your house has just failed its electrical inspection it can be a worrying time. The trick is not to panic but seek out the advice of the electrician who carried out the survey. It likely requires less work than you fear to correct the issues.

Alternatively, if we disagree with the report, or are concerned the contractor is trying to create work for themselves, we can source a second opinion, and seek the advice of another qualified electrician.

When I take my car to its MOT I get worried when presented with a list of failures or advisories. When looking at mechanical terminology it may as well be written in a foreign language. Instantly my brain goes to the worst-case scenario and I envisage pawning all my possessions to pay for the repairs.

Fortunately, this has yet to happen. As the mechanic explains in simple terms to me what the faults mean, and most importantly what they are going to cost to put right I feel the worry easing. The same is true with electrical inspections. The wording and numbers on the report won’t mean much to the majority of people so the best thing to do is stay calm and ask the electrician to break it down into simple terms.

What to Do if your House Fails an Electrical Inspection

  • Try not to panic
  • With the help of the electrician find out what the safety-critical failures are
  • Ask for a list of work needed and recommendations to achieve a satisfactory result
  • Decide if you want to get all the faults fixed or just the ones to achieve a satisfactory rating
  • If desired, get multiple quotes to have the work carried out
  • One piece of work (such as a fuse board upgrade) often fixes multiple faults in one go
  • After the work is complete the installation needs to be re-tested

Find Out What Is Safety Critical and What is Advised

Going back to the car analogy, I often have advisories on my annual MOT certificate. These are not serious enough to fail the test and prevent my car from being driven on the road, but they are a recommendation by the mechanic that these items get fixed.

An electrical inspection is similar in that some errors result in failure, whereas other faults are more like advisories; the electrician is pointing out that it would be a good idea to get them fixed.

For a homeowner to go through a report and work out what is essential and what is advised would be pretty tricky in my opinion. Talking to (and trusting the advice) of the electrician who carried out the report is the best way to figure it all out. In the same way, when I give my car to the mechanic, there is a strong element of trust that he is doing his job correctly and advising me honestly, not simply making up work in order to earn extra money from me.

If I were to suspect that my mechanic wasn’t being completely straight with me, I may choose to take it to another garage for a second opinion. The same can be done when it comes to electrical work.

Old fuse boxes are a common reason why a house fails an electrical inspection
Old fuse boxes are a common reason why a house fails an electrical inspection

Seek Out a Second Opinion if your House Failed Its Electrical Inspection

An electrical inspection, or electrical installation condition report (EICR) as they are commonly called is fairly standardised across the industry. The type of form being used may differ slightly, but the information required is the same. This means that any qualified electrician is able to interpret the findings of another electrician.

The electrician who carried out the report does not need to be the one to fix the faults. Perhaps as a homeowner, you were less than impressed with the original electrician, perhaps they were unreliable, or you simply want to get a second opinion. This is totally fine and could be a wise way forward, especially if the repair quote is a hefty one.

Get Multiple Quotes To Have The Work Done

It’s unlikely that the electrical safety check spells the complete end for the wiring within your home and the only solution is a full-blown rewire. Often some smaller work, known as remedial work, is enough to put the faults right. Sometimes a fuse box change can fix many of the problems in one fell swoop. The image of floorboards needing to be ripped up and the whole house gutted is unlikely unless the house is particularly old.

Final Thoughts

When your house fails its electrical inspection it can be a worrying time for the homeowner, but things are often not as bad as first feared. Even if presented with a whole host of faults you will often find that there are solutions, such as fuse board upgrades, which can solve lots of failures in one go.

Putting ourselves in the hands of other people can be daunting. The same is true for me when the car goes to the garage as it is for the customers whose homes I visit. The best advice I can give is to find a local electrician recommended by family or friends that you can trust and ask for their advice and guidance. You will likely be surprised that a house that has failed its electrical inspection is not as drastic a situation as feared.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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