Should PAT tests include checking of plugtops for correct fusing?

by Editor on August 13, 2012

I asked this question about checking plug top fuses to the PAT tester group.  I received some informative replies I thought would be worth posting the on the blog…

PAT Test Plugtop and Fuse


Should all PAT tests include checking of plug tops for correct fusing?

I carried out a recent EICR and was shown several years worth of PAT test reports with a blank column for fuse ratings. This probably meant that the fuses were never checked.


PAT Tester Replies

As part of the visual test fuses are checked and not only noted on our forms. It is shown on our pass label to inform the customer the correct fuse to use if there is a problem. Not checking fuses is a problem that you will find if you use sticking company’s if they are testing one every 2 minutes can not carry out a full test including visual and make out the paper work 5 min per item minimum.


I always check and record the fuse but the sticker bandits don’t. I have highlighted this on a previous thread. I dont do a lot of PAT but I need it as a part of the services I offer to landlords and letting agents and to be honest you get a feel for it so the moulded plugs that you can see the fuse is great but the bedside lamps seem to be the ones that throw up the 13A fuse instead of the 3A because Joe Public does not know any better. Thats fine because thats what PAT testing is about making sure its fit for purpose and safe but I do despair when I come at the back of a so called professional outfit and end up changing 2 or 3 fuses that I charge (nominal) for and the customer is not a happy bunny.   Another thing to look out for is the hoover lead. 3 times I have found the lead damaged ie the tenant has run over it with the hoover thing is you can tell it is a old wound as they say so. Again this tells me its not getting checked plus 2 landlords have confirmed this as they were present and commented that I was the first guy to check the condition of the leads and open the plug tops.   Now what does this tell me? Well it tells me that if people are not doing this what is the point of PAT testing?


I agree with Gordon. A proper PAT test must take 5 mins.Fuse ratings shown on my certificates. Noticed a tendancy for 10amp fuses to be fitted on sealed IEC fly leads for computer equipment, which I always change to 5amp. Cannot think that the power surge on start up warrants 10amp fusing?


Thanks. The IEE now say IT equipment should be 10 amp. I cannot find a good reason. All the people I asked can not give a good reason but I leave as 10 amp.


Its in Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment a usual IEE rewrite to get more money out of us. As I said, can not find out why other that some IT equipment with lots of drives and fan may have a high start up current. The group needs some one to keep up with changes and keeps us all informed so we do not waste our hard earn money supplying fuses free yes I can be that tight. Its very nice to talk to you 🙂


Thanks for your replies.

Yes it’s as I thought. Many plug top fuses (and leads) don’t get inspected properly, especially on larger PAT Tests, because of the time and cost limitations. I guess jobs with smaller numbers of items, say less than 20, aren’t cost effective for PAT test companies to do and get done by electricians in conjuction with other work like landlord’s inspections or EICRs. Most of my PAT tests are for less than 6 appliances. Of course to rate the fuses correctly you’d need to find out the loading of the appliance and that takes time too.


The Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment gives the following ratings >700w 3A <700W 13A IT 10 A they say the fuse is to protect the cable not the equipment. As a Pat tester we do take on small contracts if the travel is not to far.


Yes the fuse is there to protect the cable which must be of sufficient csa to supply the equipment under full load. It all comes down to the PAT tester using their experience to assess each appliance just as for any other electrical inspection and testing. Thanks for the info.



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Les Macaulay January 24, 2013 at 09:03

The problem is cost. Way back when PAT was introduced our college had a contractor in for several months testing appliances and logging them using early software. He labelled and inspected and took time over it but it is not a job for a young electrician to do hundreds of such tests/inspections. The firm charged per item (unknown) and so he was expected to be swifter than practicable. The best thing the industry did was to give us moulded plug leads. I have failed new appliances only months old for inferior flexible cords. Domestic irons are classic. The once domestic flexible cord is rare nowadays. It is harder in texture and the cores break through the cotton braiding. I hope some manufacturers take note. I am about to write a complaint to one. The two most important tests are visual and earth con. If a contractor only has time to do these two then he will save lives and let insulation and load testing take a back seat unless time is allowed to the gut doing the testing. Bulk testing is at the root cause of complaints. Let experts stipulate an average time to do a pat test and then fair pricing competition will be possible among contractors. exceptional appliances to “average” should be put aside and customer informed of higher rate of testing, say double the average.

Amy Garrick August 17, 2012 at 15:37

Charlie, I do think there are a lot of cowboys that cut corners, but there are also a lot of people testing that don’t seem to realise the full extent of the checks required- I find a lot of contractors just want to bang the plug into the machine, and if it passes, whup a sticker on it. In some ways, it’s really frustrating, because that’s doing less than a formal visual inspection would.

Charlie August 13, 2012 at 12:14

How are customers supposed to know if a PAT tester is checking all the things they are meant to? If you don’t know anything about this industry it could be easy for cowboys to cut corners.

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