How Much Do You Know About Your Home Electrics?
If you’re living in a rented property, the answer could well be ‘Not a lot’. Many tenants assume that their home electrics will have been kept up to standard by the owner, and previous occupants. However, the fact is that such basic safety measures as smoke alarms and RCDs can easily fall into neglect, and become a serious hazard. It’s equally easy for homeowners to lose track of their household electrics, with disastrous results. Here’s a quick checklist of a few standard features of any modern home that should be regularly tested and maintained:
- Fire alarms – Perhaps the most obvious electric safety feature of any home. Smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month. It’s far easier to remember if you designate a certain day of every month for the task. Replace any empty batteries immediately.
- RCDs – Residual current devices protect you from electrocution caused by wiring faults. Nearly all structures built after July 2008 come fitted with a fixed RCD, located at the consumer unit. If you haven’t got a fixed RCD, you can purchase plug-in devices instead. All RCD units feature a test button that ensures they still function properly. You should check all RCD devices at least once every three months.
- Fixtures and fittings – It’s worthwhile checking the state of all fixtures and fittings in your household. All plug sockets should be functional, and tightly secured with all screws present.
- Consumer unit / fusebox – Your consumer unit should be in visibly good shape, with no evidence of electrical burning (either visible or by smell). The unit should be correctly labeled, with no missing blanks.
- Extension cords – Any extensions should be in good condition, with no damage to the cord or unit. Make sure none of your extensions are overloaded with an excessive number of devices – it can easily lead to electrical fires.
- Light bulbs – Sockets should be in good condition and functional. Make sure your bulbs are the right wattage for the socket, and screwed in securely. Loose bulbs, or bulbs of too high a wattage, can overheat and cause a risk of fire.
These checks are all within the capabilities of the average homeowner or tenant. Even if you can’t replace or repair any faults yourself, you can at least identify any potential problems early on and take appropriate steps to fix them. However, it is recommended that you have a professional electrician carry out a full periodic inspection at regular intervals.
This is recommended every ten years for an owner-occupied home, and every five years for a rented home. It’s also recommended that a periodic inspection is carried out when a building is being bought, sold, or made available to rent.