One of our customers in London, Kensington W8, has asked for advice on electrical safety in their home while they are away. Many people in this affluent suburb of London move between two or three homes during the year, and often live abroad over the winter leaving their property in Kensington W8 unoccupied for long periods of time.
Of course, unoccupied homes where electrical appliances are left unattended can pose an electrical fire risk not to mention an unnecessary wastage of electricity and the costs involved.
I would recommend taking the following precautions to ensure electrical safety and minimise electricity costs in your home while you are away:
One of our SOR Electrical electricians was recently called out to a ground floor flat in Colindale NW9 to repair an extractor fan in their bathroom. Our electrician noticed that there were water stain marks on the ceiling board near the fan, and down the side of the wall. The tenant explained that their upstairs neighbour had a problem with a leaking washing machine and water had started trickling down through the ceiling in their bathroom and their kitchen.
The leak had also damaged wiring above the kitchen
Our electrician immediately had a look in the ceiling spaces and discovered that not only was the water leakage the cause of the problem with the extractor fan, but some of the wiring above the kitchen had also been affected and was showing signs of corrosion. Furthermore, there was still some water that hadn’t drained away and was still sitting around the wires in the ceiling.
25% of all flat insurance claims in the UK are for damage from water leaks
Water damage is a common problem with electrics with water leakage into ceiling spaces affecting wiring and light fittings. A quarter of all insurance claims made on flats in the UK are for damage caused by water leaks.
SOR Electrical recently had an electrical call-out to a flat in Bayswater, London W2 by the tenant where their electricity had tripped. Our electrician traced the fault pretty quickly to an electric ‘fire’ heater in their living room with a damaged cable. There are a number of simple checks I advise you should carry out on your electric heaters especially if they have not been used in a while.
Some simple checks to carry out on electric heaters
SOR Electrical was recently called out by a landlord to a terraced house occupied by three professional sharers in the Hendon NW4 area after they reported repeated tripping on their fuse board. One of our electricians traced the problem to an electrical socket in their bathroom that appeared not to have been correctly installed and did not meet the required BS 7671 standards.
In bathrooms because of the high levels of humidity and damp, and the danger that water poses to potential electric shocks, it is critical that electrical sockets are professionally installed by a certified and registered electrician.
Electrical installations in bathrooms must meet Part P regulations and are ‘notifiable’
In this case the socket was installed in the area surrounding the shower which means that under current legislation there are standards it must comply with and that the installation is ‘notifiable’. These standards are called Part P of the Building Regulations, which means you must employ an electrician who is Part P registered; or you have to tell or ‘notify’ your local-authority building-control about the installation and pay them to inspect the work.
As London N6 falls within our coverage area, and has some of the most expensive real estate in London, we often get called out by the celebrity residents to deal with their electrical problems. And because they know all our Highgate electricians are fully certified, qualified and registered they can rest assured that our work will be done to the highest standards and complies with the latest edition of BS 7671 (IEE Wiring Regulations).
In this case it would be inappropriate for me to mention the name of this well-known Highgate resident, but they called us out to their multi-million pound detached property after a recent burglary had damaged some of their electrical installations, including sockets and cabling. Luckily they were away at the time of the burglary, and the thieves had ripped out their computers, and audio/ visual equipment causing much of the damage.
One of our electricians recently responded to a callout by a private landlord to his student let house in Muswell Hill that apparently had no power. On entering the Edwardian house, our electrician was greeted by a group of excitable students and the smell of burning rubber. The students had been using an old fan heater supplied with the house that had shorted, melting an internal part causing the smell, and tripped the switch on the main fuse board.
The law says that landlords need to maintain high standards of electrical safety in their properties.
This is not the first time that SOR Electrical has had this problem with faulty or worn electrical appliances in let properties, and in this instance it really illustrates the need for landlords to have periodic Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). To ensure the safety of tenants, the law says that landlords should supply electrical appliances that meet essential safety requirements, are in good condition and comply with the latest British standards. It’s therefore advisable to have all electrical appliances checked on a regular basis by a qualified electrician, and obtain documentation to confirm that this has been done.
A well-known artist recently decided to renovate his period property in Notting Hill, and SOR Electrical were called in to do the re-wiring. Of course, being an artist, his renovation was very creative and so was his lighting spec. This was not a problem for us as SOR Electrical offers a complete electrical service from lighting design plans right through to installations, electrical maintenance and electrical fault finding.
We developed a creative lighting design plan for the client.
At our initial consultation, we discussed with him what he was looking for which included the installation of custom designed chandeliers, very creative additional built-in lighting, and substantially more strategically positioned sockets. This was not a problem for us as we specialise in chandeliers, and have installed many in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, not to mention unique built in lighting that has been designed by the client themselves. Our design team was then able to give our professional input into developing an overall lighting plan for the client.
I am still constantly surprised at how many clients who have embarked on loft conversions spend all their time focusing on the physical layout and leave the lighting to last. When most people start the process of designing their new loft, they either mentally or with the help of an architect, envisage this perfect practical space, but don’t realise that if they don’t get their lighting right there will be no magical transformation!
Lighting can be critical to the overall success of your loft conversion, especially as loft spaces are often unusually shaped and natural daylight can be limited. If the loft is going to double up as a spare bedroom and work space then task (reading, working) and accent (to add atmosphere) lighting needs to be carefully considered. And if daylight is a problem, then ambient (substituting for daylight) lighting is important to keep the space usable during the day.
I also find that a lot of our clients don’t know that SOR Electrical are not just electrical contractors, but have extensive experience in lighting design as well. We specialise in offering an all-inclusive holistic lighting service including the design, supply, and full installation by our qualified electricians.
If your fuse box keeps tripping, it indicates that you either have a faulty electrical item or faulty wiring. There are 2 types of tripping; constant tripping, or nuisance tripping which can happen every couple of days or even once a week, and is much harder to isolate.
Once you have isolated the problem, a decision can then be made whether you need to call in a SOR Electrical qualified electrician to do some electrical fault finding.
We often find that there is some confusion amongst our landlord clients regarding legislation relating to their electrical safety responsibilities. Unlike gas regulations, there is currently no law that says you must have a ‘Landlord Electrical Certificate’, however, and this is very important, should any electrical fittings or appliances within your rental property cause harm to a tenant YOU COULD BE HELD LIABLE.
Failure to comply with Electrical Regulations that require an electrical safety check prior to a tenancy may constitute a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. This Legislation means that landlords have a legal obligation and a duty of care to tenants to ensure that the electrical installation and the electrical equipment supplied is safe. The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations have been mandatory since 1st January 1997.