Are Visual Electrical Safety Checks Worth doing?

by Editor on January 11, 2014

Some electricians have the opinion that a simple visual electrical inspection isn’t worth the paper it’s written on!

Well, compared to a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) I do agree that it gives only scant information but to my mind any sort of report is better than none. There are probably thousands of domestic electrical installations that haven’t been visited by an electrician for decades.

Electrical Inspections and Testing

Many landlords and homeowners are reluctant to discover the truth about the condition of their electrical installation because of the financial implications.

A low cost visual inspection could be seen as one way of highlighting basic defects getting a “foot in the door” towards improving the electrical safety¬† of an installation in need of upgrading. I see it as my duty as an electrician to improve things even if it’s not me that gets to do the follow up work.

I’d always be sure to emphasize that it’s a “Visual Only” and that’s why it’s the cheaper option.

My Extent & Limitation would include:
Basic testing and checks only- Visual inspection only

Additional info:
see ‘Electrical Safety Report Sheet ‘ for additional info.

To Test or Not To Test?

A simple visual inspection by an experienced electrician can be used to spot any serious electrical problems.
I try to pursuade all my landlord and letting agents clients to let me carry out at least a visual inspection before a new tenant moves in.
I also take the opportunity to carry out some basic electrical testing. The PIRform software that I use doesn’t allow for any test results on a visual inspection so I do some essential basic tests such as Ze & PFC, Zs and polarity at sockets and continuity of bonding on a separate sheet.

Suggested Main Visual & Basic Tests Checklist

Record all Circuits

Mains Ze & PFC
Bonding R2
Metal fittings/accessories R2
Sockets Zs

PAT Test / Record Appliances
Visual Appliances
Visual CH wiring
Visual Outhouses
Visual Exterior fittings

Fire Detection

Mixed Colour Label
RCD Test Label
Repeat PIR Test Label

I’ll also include something like this when I send in the report:
The VC is a summary of your electrical installation and a report on its condition based on a brief visual inspection.

Fire an Mains

I’m always amazed at how many homes still don’t have a single working smoke detector and the condition of some of the service heads and main earthing terminals is scary! A visual inspection can be used to highlight those dangerous defects that can pose a threat to life and property.

With many thousands of electrical service heads and cut-out now over 100 years old I think you’ll find that the DNO will always be more than willing to upgrade if you deem it dangerous.

Do you carry out visual electrical inspections?

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