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Fixed Wire Testing: What It Is and Why It’s So Important for Business Owners

Posted in
Date
17/02/2021
Fixed Wire Testing What It Is And Why It’s So Important For Business Owners

While owning a business has plenty of benefits, it also comes with various responsibilities. One of those is fixed wire testing, which is required periodically. Beyond the legal obligation, it’s an important step to prevent unnecessary damage to your building or harm to those using it.

In this post, we’ll discuss exactly what fixed wire testing entails and why it’s so important for you and your business.

What is fixed wire testing?

As the name suggests, fixed wire testing is an assessment of the ‘fixed wires’ in your building. In other words, the permanent electrical setup rather than small or large appliances which are connected to it.

Mains panels, distribution boards, light fittings, sockets and switches all conduct electricity throughout your building, which naturally means they carry a certain level of risk if they’re not up to scratch. A fixed wire test will look at all of these components in line with the BS 7671 regulations.

Electrical Installation Condition Report

Fixed wire tests carried out by a qualified electrician will come with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). These reports serve as an important tool for business owners and electricians, offering a detailed assessment of the electrical system within a site. A typical EICR will outline any issues that have been identified during the test, including fixed wire systems. Some of the main issues outlined might include:

  • Defective work: An EICR will identify defective workmanship within electrical systems. This might include components which have been poorly installed, faulty connections or substandard wiring. Defective work not only affects the efficiency of a system but can also pose a safety risk to your employees and any visitors.
  • Unsafe wiring: If there is any unsafe wiring within your electrical infrastructure, there are many hazards that can occur. This includes exposed conductors, incorrectly sized cables or inadequate insulation. As part of an EICR, a contractor will inspect the wiring throughout your building, ensuring it is compliant with relevant safety standards and regulations.
  • Shock risks: Electrical shocks can cause injury and death. This is why it is important to inspect wiring and other component to ensure that there is no risk. An EICR contractor will assess electrical systems for conditions that could increase the risk of electric shocks.
  • Fire hazards: Electrical systems always come with a risk of fire. Electrical faults are one of the most common causes of fires in buildings, meaning that both your employees and assets could be at risk. Because of this, it is important to evaluate the electrical system in your site to ensure that there aren’t any fire hazards. Faulty fixed wires can overheat and cause a fire if not corrected.
  • Overloaded circuits: Overloaded circuits occur when the electrical load is more than the capacity of a circuit. This is a common reason for faults and can lead to damages. By analysing the electrical load of a system, you can prevent the risk of electrical failures or even fires.
  • Lack of bonding: Bonding is an important part of electrical safety. By connecting metallic components to the earth, an electrical system will have less chance of overloading. It’s important to identify any deficiencies or poor bonding practices.

EICR categories

Each problem identified during the EICR process is categorised based on the level of danger it poses and how quickly changes will need to be made. This ranking system ranges from C1 to C3, with the additional category of FI, for issues that require further investigation. Here is a quick overview of each:

  • C1 – Danger Present: If there is a C1 issue, then there is an immediate danger to the safety of your site and/or employees. Common C1 issues include exposed live conductors or dangerous electrical faults.
  • C2 – Potentially dangerous: A C2 issue is a potential hazard or deficiency. While this might not be immediately dangerous, it has the potential to escalate into serious problems if not addressed. Some examples of C2 issues would be instances of inadequate earthing or defective fittings.
  • C3 – Improvement Recommended: A C3 issue is not considered an immediate risk, but they do require attention to safeguard electrical infrastructure. These include minor defects in electrical systems or non-compliance with important regulations.
  • FI – Further Investigation Required: You’ll find this on an EICR when there is additional investigation required to understand the source of a fault. An FI is issued when additional testing is needed for complex issues, such as random faults, complex wiring issues, or abnormalities. Some FI issues require more specialised help to resolve.

So where do issues with fixed wires fit into these categories? Generally, issues with fixed wires will fit into a C1 or C2 problem. It’s important to note just how dangerous fixed wires can be if not properly maintained and inspected.

Why is fixed wire testing important?

It is recommended that your installation be inspected periodically. The maximum period between your tests will be outlined on your EICR by the inspector and is based on three main factors:

  • The type of electrical installation
  • How often facilities are used
  • The environment it’s exposed to or other external influences

As an example, the wet environment of a swimming pool or sauna would require annual inspections. A busy industrial unit would typically need tests every three years. However, for a standard office or retail space, testing every five years would suffice.

Failure to comply will put you in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) as well as the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989). This could land you in a sticky (and costly) situation if any accidents occur on your site.

That brings us to another reason fixed wire testing is important – the safety of your staff. It also prevents damage to your building, which will cost significantly more to repair than the small issues identified in a test.

It's also important to note that if you have a fire in your building that is caused by an electrical fault and you don't currently have an in-date EICR then your insurance policy company cover may be compromised.

Book your fixed wire test

Whether it’s the safety of your staff, legal compliance or cost management, fixed wire testing provides total peace of mind with regard to your electrical system.

At Volta Compliance, we provide fixed wire testing and EICR reports for businesses throughout Leeds. We’ll make sure your electrical installation is safe and fully functional and recommend the right frequency for testing going forward.

To find out more, call us on 0113 397 1361 or email [email protected].

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.
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