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Safety Advice 

We are often asked to advise on how to make homes electrically safe. Here are some of the areas we advise on the most. If you have any questions about these topics, or on anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us.

RCD protection: why itís important and how can I check if I have it? 

Residual current device (RCD) protection is a life-saving device that can protect you and your family against electric shocks and reduce the risk of an electrical fire. Essentially, an RCD constantly monitors electric currents. If it detects electricity running through something it shouldn’t, such as a human or an animal, it will turn off the circuit within 0.4 of a second, so that the electricity stops running before the risk of serious harm.

There are three types of RCD protectors: a fixed RCD which is in your fusebox, a socket-outlet RCD and a portable RCD which you can plug into your socket; portable RCDs can be purchased from your local DIY or garden centre.

You can check if you have fixed RCD protection by looking for a button marked ‘T’ or ‘Test’ in yourfusebox. When you push the ‘T’ or ‘Test’ button everything that your RCD protects will shut off. To restore the electricity, press the button again. You should do this every three months to make sure the RCD is working correctly and your home is adequately protected. If you press the button and the electricity in your home does not shut off, please contact us so that we can test your RCD for faults.

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Everyday electric safety: how can I protect my family, animals and myself when I do DIY projects?

Teaching your family about electrical safety is one of the most important things you can do. We often forget that electricity can harm us because we use it every day. To protect your family, you should introduce electric safety rules for when they handle electric goods.

For example, young children should stay away from electric sockets altogether. You can purchase socket safety covers to put over sockets that are within their reach. For older children, teach them not to overload sockets and to keep their electronics away from water. Also explain that it’s important not to ignore a burning smell or a buzzing or cracking sound coming from a socket.

You should also keep your animals’ food and water away from sockets and electronics, and make sure that all electric cords are off the ground so that they can’t get tangled up in them.

If you do any DIY which involves electricity, make sure that you are competent and understand how to do the job. If you are in any doubt about what needs to be done, contact us to make sure that the job is done correctly and safely.

In addition, you should also: unplug appliances before you do any maintenance on them and use a portable RCD protector in the garden if you don’t have one already installed at your fuseboard.

You should not: store combustible materials near electricity, dry clothes on electric heaters, hang picture fames without knowing what is behind the wall or install downlighters on your own.

If you have any questions about electrical safety, please contact us so that we can advise you further.

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Fire Kills: our response to the government’s campaign to keep you and your family safe

We want your home to be a safe place. That’s why we welcome the government’s Fire Kills campaign that aims to encourage you to check your smoke detector at the same time you change your clocks.

Known as the Tick. Tock. Test. the campaign urges people to ‘make good use of the extra hour’ and check their fire alarms. Of the 197 people who died last year in house fires, 70 per cent were not alerted by a fire alarm. A smoke alarm can save your life, but only if it works; so we encourage you to check yours. For more information about the campaign, see the government’s YouTube video.

We would also encourage you at this time to check your RCD protection. You should be doing so every three months. For more information about RCD protection, see your advice article.

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Fire safety and regulation for landlords: how can I make sure my rental property is safe? 

As a landlord you legally must ensure sure that the property you are letting is electrically safe. This includes making sure that all sockets, light fittings and all electrical appliances you supply for your tenants are safe. You should also supply any operating instructions and safety notices before a letting commences. Any outdoors appliances that require electricity should also have RCD protection.

Before a letting begins you should have your property inspected, tested and certified by an electrician to make sure all of the electrics are in a satisfactory condition. Once a letting commences, you should do this every five years. We can provide you with the necessary certificates to indicate this has taken place.

You should also carry out an annual visual electrical inspection of your property. When doing this, look out for broken light switches and sockets, signs of scorching around sockets which may indicate overloading, damaged electrical appliances and overheating of electrical equipment. In addition, you should also check that all fire alarms are working.

For more information about what to look for during a visual inspection, you can download a Landlord’s Interim Electrically Safety checklist from the Electrical Safety Council.

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Save energy: how can I make my home more environmentally friendly? 

Energy is expensive, and it’s most likely not going to get any cheaper in the future. Follow these tips to save energy, money and make your home more environmentally friendly.

Lights

  • Cutting your lighting bill is the easiest way to save money and energy. Make sure you turn off lights when leaving rooms
  • Have your electrician move light switches so that itís easier for you to remember to turn them off. Think about having them at the top and bottom of staircases, end of hallways or near doors
  • Install LED lighting technology. Although initially it can be expensive to have installed, you could consume 80 per cent less energy and they last for 25 to 30 years

Gadgets and appliances:

  • Make sure all of your electric gadgets are disconnected from electricity when they have been fully charged
  • Donít keep your electric gadgets or small appliances on Ďstand-byí
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances. Look out for how much energy the appliance will consume. On new appliances, you should see a graph indicating the amount of energy it requires. This will be labelled A to G: A being the most energy efficient and G being the least

Thermostat:

  • Keep an even temperature in your home
  • Keep curtains closed so that heat doesnít escape through windows
  • Turn your thermostat down by one degree. According to the Energy Saving Trust you could save £65 a year by doing this

Energy monitors:

  • Think about purchasing an energy monitor that will determine how much energy your home consumes and how much it is costing you. If you have any questions about how you can save energy and make your home more environmentally friendly, please contact us so that we can carry out an energy assessment

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Electrical Installation Condition Reports (previously known at Periodic Inspection Reports): what are they and do I need one?

An EICR is a document which explains the condition of your home’s electrical wiring. You should have an electrical installation condition report completed by an electrician when you sell or buy a home.

An EICR will detail any old or faulting wiring which could cause an electric fire. Once a report is completed, your electrician will be able to tell you about any instances of unsafe wiring or wiring that does not meet IET wiring regulations. You can then arrange to have your electrical wiring updated so that your home is safe.

If you have any questions about an electrical installation condition report or to make an appointment to have us carry out a report for you, please contact us

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Fire and electric safety: what organisations can I turn to if I need more information?

Electrical safety council promotes safety and good practice in anything related to electricity.

Department for communities and local government is where you can find more information about the Fire Kills campaign.

The electricity guide is where you will find all information about electricity in the UK.

Ofgem is the government’s electricity regulator.

NICEIC is a regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry.

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