7 signs you may have a problem with your electrical installation

Your electrical wiring at home and at your office or workplace should be checked regularly. The reason for this is because electrical faults account for at least 54.4% of all fires in the UK. Take a look at our 7 signs that mean you have a problem with your electrical wiring:

  1. Hot electrical accessories.

When you’re checking your electrical accessories (such as sockets and switches) if it feels warm or the screws holding it in place are hot to touch this is a definite sign of overheating. A possible cause of this is that you could be running too much power through the outlet, a way to eradicate this problem is to install replacement outlets that are able to handle a larger load.

Your electrical accessories could also look burned or charred and although this can be fixed by just replacing the wall cover, this won’t get to the root of the problem! You might have incorrect cable capacity meaning the circuit may need to be rewired or completely replaced.

  1. Too many extension leads

Having too many extension leads plugged in can cause overloading of the sockets. To avoid this happening you should check the current rating of the extension lead before plugging appliances into it. Most extension leads are rated at 13 A but some are rated less than this.

Never overload an extension lead by plugging in appliances that when combined together will exceed the maximum current rating stated for the extension lead. Overloading the extension cable has the potential of causing the plug in the wall socket to overheat and this could lead to a fire.

You should never plug an extension lead into another one. You should think about having more wall sockets installed in your office if you are regularly relying on extension leads and adapters.

  1. Dimming or flickering lights

Although not all dimming or flickering lights are a cause for concern as they may just need a new bulb if after you’ve installed new bulbs they are still dimming and flickering this could mean that there is an underlying issue.

Constant drops in lighting can be a result of circuit overloads or a faulty connection somewhere along the circuit.

Lighting with control gear such as ELV, LED, HF or discharge lighting could have incorrect or incompatible lamps, burnt out gear or internal wiring.

  1. Funny odours

A new appliance may give off an odour the first few times it’s used. But if you detect an odd smell coming from an outlet, turn it off and unplug anything that may be connected to it. Do not use this outlet again until you’ve had a qualified electrician out to inspect the outlet. If the funny odour is coming from a fuse box or breaker panel call an electrician straight away.

  1. Sparking

A spark happens every time you plug an appliance into an electrical outlet you usually just don’t see it. Behind every outlet are live electrical wires that just sit waiting to feed any appliance that gets plugged in. As soon as you plug an appliance into the outlet the live electrical current jumps to the appliance trying to establish a connection and for this brief moment a tiny blue spark might be visible, this is normal. But there are certain signs that make sparking not normal:

  • The spark lasting longer than a brief moment

  • The spark is yellow and intense

  • You smell smoke after the spark or there are visible burn marks on the outlet

  • There is a crackling sound over a prolonged period.

  1. Frequently blown fuses or tripped breakers

Circuit breakers and fuses are designed to fail as a way of preventing overloading or if there is a fault. If the fuse repeatedly blows or trips, in most cases, this is a result of the circuit being overloaded and means that you need to look into upgrading the circuit or adding a new circuit to increase capacity and prevent blown fuses or tripped breakers in future. If there is a short circuit fault or similar the tripping is often very noisy compare to an overload fault.

  1. Electrical accessories in higher risk areas with inadequate shock protection.

If your office or workplace has a kitchen or similar higher risk location you need to make sure that the correct accessories are installed. Sockets ideally should be RCD protected individually or at the fuse board. Other circuits and outlets such as hand driers and water heaters in splash risk areas or all electrical outlets in a special location such as a shower room or medical room would also require the enhanced protection offered by RCDs. Some areas which are not deemed higher risk areas could also require RCD protection to comply with regulations BS7671.

How can Quicktest help?

Quicktest’s testing, inspection, installation and maintenance service takes care of potential risks and manages work required to ensure legal requirements and best practices where required are met.

Contact us to discuss any electrical testing and inspection, installation and maintenance requirements or concerns. Call 0800 9175 721 or email [email protected]

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