A warning to homeowners of the risks involved in do-it-yourself electrical installations.

Napoleon once referred to Britain as 'a nation of shopkeepers'. Probably not true in modern society, but we still certainly a nation of something - do-it-yourselfers.

More and more people are willing to have a go at things they may have once thought impossible, taking regular visits to the local DIY shop to get parts for little jobs here and there or even working toward bigger projects such as renovating a room or building a conservatory. However, when it comes to plumbing, gas and electrical jobs, such concerns are better left to the professionals. Meaning those certified to carry out the work.

Jobs for an electrician

A homeowner can legally undertake basic electrical jobs themselves, such as installing an additional socket/light or connecting a cooker to an existing connection unit, but not much more than that. Anything more complicated like installing a new shower circuit or a new cooker circuit, legally requires a qualified electrician. If you have any DIY plans that require electrical work, it's always best to check what you are legally able to do before starting.

If you have any doubts on the legality or your capability to do the job safely in the first place, do NOT attempt it yourself and instead seek out the help of a qualified professional. Not only will you be ensuring that the job is done safely and properly, but you'll be saving yourself money in the long run. Hiring an electrician to fix a botched job usually ends up costing more than getting one out to do the job in the first place.

Building Regulations

District councils have responsibility for ensuring that any building works meet the national Building Regulations for efficiency, safety, design and disabled access. Building Regulations must be obtained from the local council before any structural alteration is made to a home. Such regulations are easier to obtain if the homeowner can prove they are going to be using a qualified electrician to undertake the work.

Part P qualified

A Part P qualified electrician is one who is able to sign off their own work in domestic properties. If they aren't qualified, then they'll have to approach the local authority building control to approve their work. This is something that all homeowners should bear in mind when they are looking to hire a qualified electrician.

Risks

It doesn't take much for electricity to kill. Forget numbers like 10,000 volts, the 230 volt domestic supply running through your home is more than enough. Our bodies use electrical signals to control our organs and any excess voltage will interfere with these, causing hearts and lungs to stop functioning and eventually death. Poorly installed electrics can very easily also start fires, resulting in home owners losing everything when their houses are burnt to the ground because of some faulty wiring. And if that work goes against building regulations, you may find the property is not insured and the insurance company is not legally obliged to reimburse them. On average, around 30 people die each year due to low voltage electrocutions and electrical burns. In addition, two and a half million people will receive a mains voltage electric shock every year, and 350,000 will receive a serious injury. Another 46 will die each year as an indirect result of faulty electrical wiring or the poor installation of electrical equipment.

Differing standards

The majority of contractors in the UK are reliable and are certified as such. To become a qualified electrician takes between three and five years of study. Some contractors may however pass themselves off as qualified, citing qualifications obtained in other EU countries. However, the standards in wiring differs across both the EU and the rest of the world, so what qualifies as a qualified electrician in one country is unlikely to be anywhere near the standard required in the UK.

Registers

To find an electrical contractor to undertake domestic tasks, the best place to start is often a register such as the Electrical Safety Register at www.electricalsafetyregister.com. Electricians who register with the Electrical Safety Register must meet a very high industry standard, which means that consumers who use an ESR registered contractor are guaranteed an exceptionally high standard of work. In addition, all work carried out by Electrical Safety Register contractors is guaranteed. Any deficiencies in the work carried out are resolved at no extra cost.

Kick out the Cowboys

Electricians with fake qualifications performing sub-standard work is a continuing problem in Britain. Despite their poor (and often dangerous) results, such workmen still expect to be paid for their work and can get heavy handed if refused, especially against the vulnerable. 
In an effort to show up shoddy workmanship, electrical wholesalers Gil-Lec has set up a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #KickOutCowboys. Anyone who provided poor electrical work can be named and shamed via the Twitter campaign. Twitter users are encouraged to post photographs of poor electrical work, coupled with the name of the individual or company who performed the work.

Via Electrical Contracting News

- Mark Jenkins

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Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

The accessories we buy may not be what they seem. Counterfeiting is big business, it is estimated that 10% of all world trade is counterfeit! In the UK that amounts to £30m of counterfeit electrical goods enter the supply chain.

Since 2000 15 million counterfeit products have been seized, mainly circuit breakers and wiring accessories. The vast majority of these counterfeit goods come from China, but some have been found to originate in Dubai and East Africa.

Counterfeit items are hard to spot, they may carry a well-known brand name and all the certification markings, the biggest difference may be the price! The items will not have under gone any form of testing, and they will not meet the required BS standards.

See the full article in Electrical Contracting News.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Towards the end of August the Electrical Safety Council revealed that DIY errors are the cause of almost half of all serious electrical shocks in UK homes.

Their survey, which took results from both electricians and consumers, found that many DIYers in fact CAN'T do it themselves and are in fact causing themselves extensive and expensive repairs that need to be done by a professional electrician. And that's if they're lucky - they're also risking both their lives and their family's lives.

These over-confident "Dive-in" DIYers are not only attempting simple jobs either, as one in five respondants without any form of electrical training said that they were confident enough to try their hand at installing new lights. One in ten even said they'd even have a go at new wiring!

So where is this added sense of bravado coming from? Well it's partly coming from relying on the advice of friends and family, who usually aren't electrically qualified themselves (over half surveyed admitted to this) but there's also another source - the internet. Two fifths said they happily turn to Google for advice, using "how-to" video guides from YouTube rather than getting proper training or calling in a professional.

But even with this factors considered, it usually comes down to the stereotypical male bravado. two fifths of men say they feel a responsibility to do electrical and DIY jobs, and almost half of all men are likely to try a job themselves or ask a mate, before seeking help from a professional.

In addition to these facts 2,000 electricians from across the country were asked about their experiences and the results were equally as alarming. 82% said repairing failed DIY efforts costs the homeowner more overall in the long run. Even worse, one third said they had seen or been involved with fixing DIY which had resulted in fires, serious electric shock or serious financial cost to repair.

Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council, said: “As budgets continue to be stretched, many people will look for the easy solution but we have found this can often be more costly in the long term and can also pose severe risks. There is a lot of good advice out there on how to go about tasks safely but you must make sure the advice you take is reputable. For the small tasks that you are not sure of and for all the major jobs, my message is DDIY – Don’t Do It Yourself – get a professional in. You can find a registered electrician in your area by searching the Electrical Safety Register.”

DDIY even has some minor celebrity backing in the form of former Changing Rooms DIY expert Andy Kane (aka "Handy Andy"). He said: He said: “I’m well known for my DIY skills and love getting stuck into a good project. But when it comes to electrical DIY I always get professional advice and help. I don’t think it’s unmanly to want peace of mind for yourself and your family. Even when you are carrying out simple DIY jobs like putting up pictures, it’s important to be aware of the potential danger electricity presents in the home.”

So next time you're thinking of installing some new kitchen lights or doing a bit of rewiring, stop and think whether it's really in your ability to do that. Either swallow your pride and get a professional electrician to do the job properly, or consider getting real electrician training so you can do it yourself with REAL confidence. As well as offering training courses to those looking to become a professional electrician, Access Training can also give DIY enthusiasts the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to do extensive home rennovating. To find out more visit our courses page or call us on 0800 345 7492.

Following our plumbing glossary yesterday, Access Training have also put together a brief post covering common electrical terms that will be handy for all the aspiring electricians out there - whether they're DIY enthusiasts or aiming for a professional career.

Bonding: The process by which all metal parts in a circuit are electrically connected together and then linked to a real earth. This is done to prevent any metal component within a building becoming dangerous should it become live due to an electrical fault or damage. Any fault should cause the circuit protection device to operate and isolate the incoming mains.

BS 7671: Currently in its 17th Edition, this is the UK national safety standard for electrical installation work.

Consumer Unit: These are used to control and distribute electricity around the home. They usually contain a mains switch, fuses/circuit breakers and one or more residual current devices.

Earthing: In the event that there is a fault in the circuit, this will minimise the risk of an electric shock. It provides a path for the faulty current to flow safely to earth, causing the protective device (such as a fuse) to disconnect the circuit and stop the danger. An electrician should check that the earthing and bonding is satisfactory before starting any work.

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): A report on the condition of your electrical wiring, containing an overall assessment of the safety of the wiring, observations on its condition, and a number of recommendations (in order of priority) for action (if any is required) to restore the wiring to a satisfactory condition for continued safe use. These were formerly known as Periodic Inspection Reports (PIRs).

Flush-fitted: These are electrical switched or sockets that have been installed so that their back boxes are contained within the wall or ceiling, making only the front plates visible. This often looks nicer than surface mounted connections but usually requires chasing to complete.

Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB): These are automatic protective devices fitted into fuse boxes. They will disconnect a circuit should there be a fault or overload.

Part P: The specific section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, which relates to electrical installations in domestic properties.

Surface-mounted: This is when switches and sockets are installed on top of a surface rather than behind it. While it is less seamless than flush-fitted installations, it causes less disruption to any decoration that surface may have.

Two Way Switch:  Switches which can be used in pairs so that either can turn a light on or off. Each switch has terminals allowing them to be linked using Three Core and Earth cable.

Of course once again this is only a very brief look at some of the things electricians come across on a daily basis, and is no substitute for proper comprehensive electrical training. If you would like to find out more about what it takes to become an electrician, earn valuable skills and the qualifications to go professional - Access Training have exactly what you need. With courses suitable for both trainees and homeowners looking to do a spot of DIY on their property, now has never been a better time to gain a better understanding of the electrical trade. Please visit the courses section of our website or alternatively get in touch with our team on 0800 345 7492.

From: Professional Electrician & Installer

Findings from a recent survey into consumer attitudes to payments reveal that many self-employed tradespeople may be losing potential income by not being able to accept card payments.

However, there is competitive advantage to be gained as the survey shows that businesses adopting new card payment technology often attract more customers than those only accepting cash. In the last year, one-in-five UK consumers has abandoned a purchase due to the trades person not accepting card payments or because they did not have enough cash, over half of consumers (54%) finding this lack of flexibility inconvenient.

The implications are far reaching:

  • 72% of consumers are left with a negative impression of a business that fails to accept cards
  • 28% of customers may also see this lack of service as poor customer service
  • 19% see lack of card payment options as being unprofessional
  • 18% even perceiving the business as unsuccessful or struggling
  • 87% state that they spend more money when paying by card as they purchase additional services or products, demonstrating the potential benefits on offer for those mobile workers that adopt the new service

Tradespeople have the potential to gain new customers by accepting card payments on the move. 38% of people saying that would prefer a tradesman (38%, an electrician 35% and a plumber 33%) if they accept card payments over one that doesn’t, even if the job quote, materials and service quality are the same.

The survey of 5176 people was conducted via online interviews with UK consumers (18+ year olds) during April 2013 for WorldPay.

As a consequence WorldPay has launched ‘WorldPay Zinc’ which allows tradesmen to use a mobile chip & pin keypad, costing £59.99, to take card payments on-site. Offering quick transfer of funds (usually 4 working days), this service offers a pay-as-you-go system of 2.75% per transaction.

This amounts to the tradesman having to pay £2.75 on every £100 pounds that is put through the card reader, this may seem to be a lot, but bear in mind some retail outlets pay 5% or more.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

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