What is an EICR?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report, or EICR, is a report produced following the inspection and testing of the fixed electrical system within a building. This is the wiring that is often buried in walls, under floors and above ceilings which can’t always be seen, the fuse boards or consumer units, the switches and sockets and associated equipment. It’s important to have this inspected at regular intervals as the failure of this system is a leading cause of fires and can lead to fatal electric shocks. An EICR was called a Periodic Inspection until a few years ago.
Who can do an EICR?
The EICR must be completed by a competent person, usually holding a recognised qualification in this field (look out for City & Guilds 2391 or 2395 or EAL4338) and it is worth looking out for a contractor who is also a member of a trade body such as the NICEIC as this means the contractor has been independently assessed and they are following best practice.
What does it involve?
Before completing the testing and inspections you’ll need to talk to your contractor about the extent of the system to be tested. We are quite often brought in to test specialist stage lighting systems as these aren’t routinely completed by other contractors, leaving a serious gap in the testing. Whilst the inspection and testing is a somewhat detailed task, the following are some of the key things we will undertake:
Visual inspection – a thorough visual check of wiring and electrical accessories for damage and making sure that the equipment used is suitable and correctly rated for its purpose.
Earth Continuity – simply put this measures the resistance of the earth cable back to the supply. This is important as it is required to “trip” a circuit if a fault develops .
Insulation Resistance – To make sure the insulation on any wiring is still intact.
Functional Checks – items such as RCD’s need testing to make sure they operate within set times. (an RCD is a safety device which is designed to disconnect the supply very quickly if a person is getting a shock, or a faulty piece of equipment is plugged in.)
The process is designed to be as un-intrusive as possible but will require access to distribution boards or consumer units and other areas of the building depending on the scope of the inspections. We will also need to see the electricity meter and where any services enter the building such as gas and water.
What do I get at the end?
Other than peace of mind that the installation is safe you’ll get an EICR, an imposing document that could single handedly kill a rain forest (ask for an electronic copy!). The report, whilst looking daunting, is very important but most of it can be skipped over. If you’re not up to speed with the electrical regulations the section to look at is “observations” (usually section K). This is a list of any problems or concerns with the install and comes with a code to classify the severity of the issues found. These codes are:
C1 – Something is immediately dangerous and should be rectified or made safe immediately. An example of this could be a broken socket where live parts are exposed. Any C1’s means an “unsatisfactory” result for your test.
C2 – This is where something is potentially dangerous if another fault should occur. An example of this may be an earth wire not connected, which would mean that an appliance would work, but may become dangerous if that device becomes faulty. Any C2’s also give an “unsatisfactory” result and should be rectified as soon as possible.
C3 – This one is not so serious, it could be that there are some warning labels missing, or that the installation is not to the most current regulations. C3’s are advisory, so these will not mean you miss out on a “satisfactory” result, but you should consider correcting them where possible.
FI – This stands for Further Investigation. It’s pretty much as it sounds, something has cropped up outside the norm and requires a more detailed investigation. It could be something as simple as not being able to access certain areas, or not being able to locate some bits of equipment within the timescale. An FI will also give an unsatisfactory result until it has been fully investigated.
Ultimately you want to receive a report with a ‘satisfactory’ outcome but don’t worry if it doesn’t -just talk to your contractor to determine what needs to be done to achieve this.