Tackling an electrical job at home might seem like a great idea, but it's not as easy as it can seem. In reality, there are very few jobs that the untrained individual can safely complete. Electricity has many quirky behaviours, electrical circuits are complex and thereʼs a vast number of regulations and guidelines you need to comply with.
You may be a very resourceful person, but get this wrong, and you could be endangering not just your life but others as well. Not to mention the risk of damage to property caused by fires resulting from faulty electrics.
In this article, I am going to flick the light on what someone can safely do at home or in the office. I'll also cover which jobs you should be calling in a qualified electrician for. For any detailed information on electrical work or to discuss any jobs you need doing, give us a call, and we'll help you in any way we can.
Before approaching any electrical work, one must be sure to have a complete and total understanding of how to switch off the electrical supply.
This act is called "isolation" in electrical terms. Electrical circuits originate from a fuse box or consumer unit. These should be clearly marked and labelled with what each circuit does. If you have MCBs, then the switch should be off, while for fuses, the whole carriage should be removed.
It is good practice here to ensure that the circuit has no appliances on which are currently drawing electricity as this can cause arcing. The isolation device must then be locked off (safe isolation) or left in such a way that no other person could accidentally switch it back on whilst you are downstream!
Using a test instrument conforming to GS38, the circuit should be tested to ensure it is dead. This is done in a specific way, testing both the phase (live), neutral and earth conductor lines. Yes, you can get very severely electrocuted by the neutral, even the earth if you are not careful.
Its also recognised practice to test your test instrument on a known electrical source that's live to check its functioning. This is called "proving" your instruments are in operational order.
Like a cowboy knows how to load and shoot his gun, the competent electrician should know precisely how to use his or her electrical test equipment. The cowboy never knows when the bad guys are going to creep up on him and having his pistol in tip-top condition, able to shoot spot on every time, can save his life! The electrician views their test gear in the same way.
Confused? If so, stop right now. Doing the above correctly requires a certain level of competency and experience. Call a qualified electrician, call Quantum!
According to this legislation, all of the electrical work carried out in a residential property must meet specific regulations identified in BS7671. Part P also defines what electrical work should be notified to your local Building Authority and what should not.
The specifics of Part P go beyond the scope of this article. However, in essence, it aims to ensure all electrical work is carried out to code and is certificated as such. Failure to comply with Part P could result in prosecution.
To make up your mind as to whether you need a certified electrician, you need to determine how the electrical works fall under Part P. Broadly speaking Part P sees the work as "notifiable" or "non-notifiable". i.e., does Building Control need to be notified of the electrical work or does it not?
For example, changing a faceplate or adding an electrical point is not notifiable to building control; however, new circuits, rewires, and new consumer units are. These need to be "signed off" by your local authority or a registered electrician who is recognised under Part P.
Non-notifiable work should still be certificated, and a Minor Electrical Works Certificate issued. This demonstrates that the job that is done, though small, is safe and meets minimum safety standards.
To understand if the work you wish to undertake requires notification or not, you should speak to a qualified electrician or your local Building Control Authority. As experts in the industry, Quantum would be happy to talk you through it; we're just a call away.
Whichever way you go next, electrical work should never be viewed as a simple DIY task. Poor electrical installations, though they may "work" can leave dangerous faults within your home that could escalate at any time into a fire or electrocution. Failure to comply with regulations can invalidate your insurance cover and lead to prosecution with hefty fines and even jail sentences.
Quantum Electrical advises clients not to risk it! We can send a qualified and experienced electrician to you. Weʼll take away the burden and stress and give you the peace of mind that the works carried out are totally safe, regulation-compliant and certificated. We take care of Part P and carry out notifications to building control on behalf of our clients.