common electrical problems

Some electrical problems are more common than others, and not everyone requires an intensive electrician course or professional qualification to deal with the issue at hand. With this in mind, here's a short list of five of the most common household electrical problems, and how they can be fixed with ease.

1. No power from an electrical socket

This common household electrical problem could be due to a number of things, some of which you will be able to fix yourself without the aid of a professional electrician. Usually, it's down to a tripped circuit breaker, or perhaps the fuse has gone.

Alternatively, it could be because of a loose wire somewhere. It's easy to check whether the circuit breaker has tripped or the fuse has blown, but if its neither of these you may need the aid of a power tester/voltage meter. If the test results in low or no power, it probably means the wiring is loose somewhere and requires further inspection.

2. Flickering lights

Again, this household electrical problem could be due to any number of reasons. Flickering lights or those that do not turn on/off when commanded are usually due to a larger problem, as is a buzzing sound you'll hear when the lights are on. The simple answer is that you might be using the wrong wattage light bulb, but it could also be a case of a bad connection. Whatever it is, in most cases this can be fixed by simply changing the bulb.

3. Half the house lights have gone off

We've probably all been here at some point. Usually, this household electrical problem can be fixed by locating your house's fuse box and flipping the switch (be sure all the light switches are off in the affected area though!). However once again it could be a short fuse or loose wiring somewhere. You might be able to locate this with your voltage tester/power meter but it's recommended that you call an electrician if needed.

4. Strange smell coming from switch/socket

When the circuit connection of an electrical device is damaged, the electricity jumps to complete the circuit. Not only creating this smell but also potentially resulting in a fire as the electricity zaps anything along the way. Electrical device arcing also indicates a serious damage to both the socket and electrical device. You'll need to unplug the appliance immediately and seek the help of a professional.

5. Hot switches

This usually occurs in dimming switches when they are running bulbs that are equal to or less than 600 Watts. When this happens, achieve the wattage required to run the dimmer properly by adding the right amount of bulbs. However, if it's the wall socket that's hot, you need to use a voltage meter to look for a high decrease or increase in voltage.

Hopefully, this post has helped you in being able to identify some of the common electrical problems you might find at home, and what you can do to fix them. However it is important to know your limitations, and NEVER attempt something that should be performed by a professional electrician.

If you would like to find out more, Access Training offer a DIY Electrical course in addition to our professional qualification courses, giving you the opportunity to practice your DIY electrical skills under the tutelage of industry professionals. For more information give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Until the recent changes to Part P came into force (in England only), if you carried out an electrical task in your home your only option was to notify the work to the local building control office. Building control would then get a qualified electrician to come and test your work and issue the relevant certification.

The changes in Part P now make provision for the home owner to engage a registered third-party certifier to certify that the works meet the requirements of the building regulations and BS7671 2008 (2011).

A word of warning; the third-party certification scheme has not yet started, and is not expected to be in place until later this year.

The 2013 edition of Approved Document P, which applies to England only, makes provision for notifiable electrical installation work to be certified as compliant with the Building Regulations by a ‘registered third-party certifier’. However, those interested should note that, such a service can be provided only by a ‘registered third-party certifier’, who is ‘a competent person registered with a Part P third-party certification scheme’.

Competent persons registered with schemes that authorise them to self-certify that their own work complies with the Building Regulations are not automatically entitled to certify compliance of electrical work undertaken by others. Following development by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the arrangements for third-party certification schemes are expected to be put in place later this year.

Registration with third-party certification schemes is expected to be available to named individuals from trading companies who meet particular assessment criteria intended to ensure that those individuals are competent to inspect, test and report on the condition of electrical installation work carried out by others.

The DCLG is not expecting competent persons registered with existing Part P schemes to use third-party certification in place of self-certification. The third-party certification option is intended for DIYers and other unregistered installers who currently notify their work to local authorities.

- Mark Jenkins

The Electrical Safety Council is calling for manufacturers to face tougher penalties if they undertake inadequate or slow recalls, following growing concerns over the effectiveness of the recall system and the emergence of a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.

Manufacturers who delay or take action in a recall situation currently face fines of only £5,000.

The ESC would like to see tougher penalties based on a percentage of profits from the recalled product, with a minimum level set at £5,000. This should ensure manufacturers react quickly and effectively should a recall situation arise.

The ESC is also inviting Trading Standards to set out clear and unambiguous guidelines on exactly what a manufacturer should do if they have produced a product that is subject to a recall. The ESC’s research shows that typically only 10-20% of recalled electrical products are ever returned, exposing millions of people in the UK to the risk of fire or electrocution. Over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items.

In addition to the proposed change to fines, the Electrical Safety Council has today outlined proposals for a new centralised product registration system, coordinated by the charity, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer in a recall situation.

At the moment only 5-10% of people fill in registration cards for new items because they are concerned about their information being used for marketing purposes and because they don’t understand the purpose of the cards. Yet over half of all the people that took part in the Electrical Safety Council’s research said they would be more likely to register products with an independent organisation, if their details were used only in the event of a recall and if they were assured their details wouldn’t be used for marketing purposes.

Do you fill in and send off the produce registration card? Or do you, like many people just throw it away? It’s there for a reason – keeping you and your families safe. Next time you purchase a new product do everyone a favour – FILL IN THE CARD AND SEND IT OFF!

- Mark Jenkins

electric shower

Firstly when you’re having problems with your electric shower don’t attempt to fix it, this is false economy – you’re much better off changing the item completely. Here are a few steps to show you how to change an electric shower. 

  • Step One - Safely take off the front cover of the electric shower box. There will be at least 1 or possibly 2 small screws holding this in place. Next, take off the front temperature and control knobs by pulling them straight off (this shouldn’t be too difficult to do). With the front cover off you should be able to see a valve on the water pipe going into the shower unit, it should have a screw slot in the middle of the valve. Turn this a ¼ turn either way and test the shower to see if this has turned off the water. You can use the control knob by temporarily re-attaching it to the shower to get the water to flow.
  • Step Two - When changing an electric shower, you must turn off the electric supply at the consumer unit (or fuse board as it’s commonly known). The fuses/trips should be marked but if they’re not, the 1 of 2 possible trips you are going to turn off will be either a 35 amp or a 45 amp depending on the Kilo-watt power of the shower. For a 35 amp fuse/trip, the shower should not be over 8.5 kilowatts. For a shower that is greater in kilowatts, the fuse/trip will be a 45 amp.
  • Step Three - The next step in changing your electric shower is to check that the electric has been turned off by either pulling the cord switch in your bathroom or the wall-mounted one outside. Run the shower and make sure that the running water isn’t warm/hot. With the electric turned off, you can put a notice hanging from the consumer unit to warn others not to turn back on.
  • Step Four - If the water is now off you can take off the water connection where it connects closest to the unit. Undo the electric cable connections and remove the unit, remembering to replace like-for-like in the kilowatt power rating of the unit (this rating can be found somewhere on the old unit, and on the front cover box of the new one).
  • Step Five - When you have connected the new unit to the electric cable and to the water supply, check the water flow through the unit first, then with the cover on the unit you can turn the electric fuse/trip back on. Go back to the unit and turn the wall-mounted switch or pull the cord on, turn up the thermostatic control on the unit and the water control knob to on. Your new shower should be working, but with the new shower unit you will have the manufacturer’s instructions in the box. Follow these carefully, and it should be safe for you to install.

- Mark Lewis

 Would you like to learn more about the kind of DIY plumbing tasks you can perform yourself around the home? Access Training offers a number of bespoke plumbing courses for both DIY enthusiasts and those looking for a career as a professional plumber. You'll have access to our state-of-the-art training facilities and be taught by fully-trained plumbers with many years' experience in the trade. To find out more, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

While there will always be a demand for qualified tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and gas engineers, setting yourself apart from the other tradesmen in your local area is an important factor is getting your name out there among potential clients. And the best way to do this is to consider qualifying in more than one skill. Commonly gas engineer training goes hand in hand with plumbing qualifications, but there are far more potential combinations that could benefit your future career.

For example, if a plumber were to undertake electrical training it would open up a variety of new work for them that they wouldn’t be able to complete otherwise without a second tradesman. They would be able to properly install power showers, and by achieving a Part P qualification would also be permitted to sign off the work themselves once they had joined a relevant Competent Person Scheme.

In turn, if an electrician had plastering qualifications, they could provide a fresh finish to a wall surface after tearing it apart to complete an installation. The same applies for combining plastering, tiling and/or carpentry courses. You’ll be increasing both your eternal potential and boost your chance of success when starting up your own business.

Take note though, it’s vital that you train properly for your second skill just as you did the first. A plumber should not be attempting any electrical work without the proper electrical qualifications and the same goes for any other potential trades. Not only would you be putting yourself at risk, but your customer as well. By training properly, you’ll be able to do the job properly and known as a tradesman capable and competent enough to get the job done on their own.

If you would like to find out more about the multi-skills training routes available to you, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 and our team will be happy to tell you more.

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