All Things Electrical
February 11, 2018
James interviews Danny the Electrician from Safe Spark Electrical. He sheds light offering some advice and what the current regulations are.
James : Ok and welcome to this episode of the property renovation podcast and today on today’s episode I’ve got Danny from Safe spark Ltd he’s an electrician in Stockport and thought it would be a good idea, we haven’t had an electrician as yet and I just wanted to ask him a few questions about being an electrician and electrics in general. So Danny, welcome to the podcast.
James : So I’m just, can we start off by saying, um, how did you become an electrician and why did you choose that path?
Danny : Well, electric is just something that’s always intrigued me as well as other aspects of general engineering and construction where there’s something different every day that a certain, it’s challenging, it’s always evolving with technology and so yeah, that’s basically when I left school I served in an advanced apprenticeship and just carried on gaining further qualifications such as your 2391 testing inspection and current British standards to the EIC and things like that.
James : Did you consider any other part before that? Were you going to do something else?
Danny : I didn’t really know what to do here when I left school it wasn’t. Um, do you have any, any thoughts of what I want or to do? I just knew that getting a trade for a start behind you its always. It’s something that everyone always tells you, you know, get a trade behind you. It’s, it’s a good thing to have and they are actually right. It’s probably worked out better for me, but it did go down that route.
James : Yeah, I think to choose that trade as an electrician I think is a very good trade to be into but it’s constantly evolving all the time right?. So there’s new regulations, more testing so it must be quite difficult and you always have to keep on track doing refreshers and stuff?
Danny : Yeah well there’s actually, currently new guidelines and new regulations coming out. We are currently working to the 17th edition of BS7671 and the 18th edition is coming out soon. So we will have to do a refresher course to keep up to the standards.
James : So what’s the most importance’s around electrics, that you find that people don’t know as homeowners?
Danny : Well most important, observation obviously is the electricity can kill you. It’s main dangers I’d like to think are generally understood by most people, but the extent of those dangers might be underestimated in some cases. I believe it’s important as a homeowner to ensure the safety of your property, by at least having the standard safety checks done, such as having an in date inspection report conducted, also known as the periodic inspection.
James : Do you find that people are like when you go into doing inspections and stuff like that, and you ask when was their last inspection, are you quite surprised how long it’s been left?
Danny : Yes, most definitely. Most people never even have an initial certificate, so some of the things we come across, it’s quite scary to say the least on general outcome of most of the reports we do.
James : What happens in that situation? So if you have to do a report, What can go either way with a test like that
Danny : Well worst case if we find something dangerous and it’s marked as a Code 1 and really as soon as we find anything like that we’d approach the homeowner and say that you know, we really need to get this sorted out because it’s in a dangerous condition, but then best cases you go along and everything looks nice and nice and neat all tests out ok, and they just get a nice satisfactory report.
James : Can you give me an example of a code one?
Danny : A code 1 being exposed live part. So for example, your light fitting has been wired incorrectly and it’s live. That would be, anything that’s dangerous.
James : If someone was to like change your plug on a wire and they would cut back to the wires it would still expose just a little bit of the wire, and that was plugged in. Would that be marked down as a code one then yeah?
Danny : If there was just a single installation I would mark it down as a code 2, but if it was actually bare copper and you know, if you can touch the live part then that would be a code 1 but that’s actually falling under pat testing rather than the installation, but obviously you’d still pick it up nonetheless.
James : Right. OK. So tell us one of the worst things you’ve found around electricity.
Danny : I’ve actually come across thousands, as you can imagine anything. Anything that involves thermal or fire damage always sticks out more than the others. Exposed live parts like we just mentioned, are quite nasty to find, especially if you wanted me to receive an end of an electric shock. That’s always the worst way to find one as well.
James :I would say, I’m just imagining something that like a cluster of wires and maybe Christmas lights and stuff like that?
Danny : Again, it falls really falls on the pat testing that side of things so I wouldn’t usually come across things like that, apart from at Christmas time obviously if your testing house, some bad ones would be, as an example a 40 amp shower electric shower being supplied off a lighting circuit and things like that you know, in the most part you’d, if you’d like to think they’re funny, but your just laughing in disbelief because it’s just crazy what some people will do with electrics.
James : I’ve been around construction for a while and you know, like you’ve got the electric underfloor heating, and when that’s been installed, I’ve seen that come off just been branched off from a plug socket a, you know, like bridged from a plug socket. Um, when really that actually should be coming from the consumer board, right?
Danny : It depends on the loading of the underfloor heating. Either way, regardless, it should be on a few super something abuse it down to 13 amps so they may use underfloor heating via that way, but anything larger then yeah, you could come back to the distribution board and have its own dedicated circuit.
James : How about something like ovens these days because I know there was a regulation that it has to be a 6mm cable. What would be the minimum?
Danny : Again, a lot of ovens nowadays actually come plugged up so you can actually plug them in, hobs are generally on a 6mm cable. It depends on the demand of the appliance so if it’s 40 amp hob then you’d expect a 6mm cable from the hob directly to the distribution board.
James : If you found someone that was a viewing a potential home buy, they wanted to go and see the property and check it all out. Is there anything that you think you could say to make sure that the, like the, the wiring is up to date, is there anything that would be pointed out?
Danny : Well I’d request a electrical installation conditional report, which they will probably have anyway if they are selling their home they probably had one conducted because you know, multiple people are properly requested in any way, but if you do have it, just makes sure you read it because it might, I’ll highlight some key points such as the estimated age of the wiring, its general condition. Signs of deterioration may be noted. Don’t just assume that, you know, if you’ve got a nice new distribution board, or fuse box and some nice shiny sockets, etc, don’t assume the wirings also been upgraded not that old wiring is unsatisfactory, but if you’re under the impression you’re buying a new car, you’d also expect to have the new engine to go with it. So just always check his certificates, if possible get your own electrician out. He can conduct an inspection on your behalf. Depending on the age as well, he might actually come with the initial certificate. So say you’re looking at house, it’s only five years old. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t have the initial certificate from the installation. So things like I’ve always got signs, but it’s been looked after in the maintenance has been kept up to date.
James : Tell us a funny story that’s happened to you whilst you have been at work. A two.
Danny : Every day a funny day, one that springs to mind is early stage in my career. I was asked to go and help the lads out on another job, so packed up my tools and trotted off few miles away and get there, say hello to the lads and started unpacked and next minute the tenant is literally starts yelping the top of her voice screaming. It made me jump my skin, didn’t know what was going on, look down at my toolbox and there’s only a flaming snake coming out of my toolbox an actual real live snake. I was in front of a lady I was out of the door before she was, by the time I realized what was going on the lads thought it was hilarious, but it took me a few days to see the other side.
James : Oh my God. So I’m guessing that this will someone’s pet.
Danny : Yeah. Well, the previous house owners failed to tell us that they had a little friend that had been missing for a few days so, at least we got to get him back
James : What electrics can a homeowner do that, doesn’t require a certificate?
Danny : Well, homeowner, there’s obviously solely responsible for any work conducted by themselves in their own home, but competency competencies, paramount, far as tickets go. There are two variations is asked if kits are used when electrical work has been conducted, one being an EIC, which is an electrical installation certificate, which we briefly discussed before, and these are required for work such as a new circuit, supply from the distribution board or even a replacement of the distribution board itself, and there’s another certificate called the minor works as its name suggests. Is use the minor electrical works, so choose an alteration to a circuit. An example would be moving a light, so you’ve got to send a pendant than you’re moving it over to the other side of a beam, perceive, you know, you’re going to extend the cable by requirement, but not always. You don’t need one favourite place in accessories. So if you change in sockets on a like-for-like basis or light fittings, you don’t require a minor work certificate, but some people might provide on any way, depending on what their view is.
James : Someone had, um, a pendant light, a single pen light in a room and they wanted to change that for some spotlights. Is that something that a homeowner can do?
Danny: Well, you would have to issue a minor works for the way it was conducted because you are making alterations to the hardwire of the installation.
James : How does the, like, if we’ve got a listener that’s quite a competent person, and knows their way around electrics and they do the installation. Is it possible to just call out an electrician to just come and double check and sign it off?
Danny: It depends with something called third-party certification. That would probably more be generally used for when the council, have to be informed of any electrical works that are done, but yeah, an electrician could come out and double check over, but what you’ve done it, I’d advise him calling him first before we do the work because ideally, you’d want to see it first and second fix meaning you want to see condition of installation, come and check on where the cables are in and then maybe another visit to then do a test and go about it way.
James : So let’s a building company does electrics on someone’s house and I don’t know, it comes to the end. Maybe there’s some other mix up they have not done a great job as a whole project and then the client gets into a bit of kerfuffle with them and saying, well, I don’t want to pay you all the money, you have not done a good job, can is the building company, do you think they’re entitled to hold back and electrical certificate?
Danny : No! They do I have to issue a certificate for any electrical work conducted. If someone is in that situation, you can always find out the scheme provider. So lets say with an EIC like myself, you can phone up and it’s likely, they’ll have a copy and they will be able to get your copy of this.
New Speaker: Could you explain the zones around safe electrics, cause you always see them when people buy stuff and you know they’re going into a shop, DIY shop they might pick up some lights. It always has like a zone on them, right?
New Speaker: Yes, in general, usually for bathrooms zones and they are used to dictate what ingress protection and electrical item of equipment should meet. So and say you’ve got zone 0, that would be inside the bath or the basin zone 1 would be designed so it can be installed directly above the bath, up to 2.25 meters vertically and the zone to would be adjacent again up to 2.25meters vertically and 600mm, 600mm horizontally from zone 1, and so obviously it is important if you’re putting lights up in your bathroom or other accessories that they do meet these requirements because it’s specially designed for that area.
James : and again, around the shower, it’s the same dimensions I guess?
Danny : Yep. Same again, so the shower tray would be classed as zone 0 and above the shower tray up to 2.25 meters, again zone 1 and adjacent would be zone 2, that applies for all electrical items equipment, whether it’s a fan or spotlights or a vanity unit, things like that.
Speaker 1: Is there anything that you could tell us that you think would benefit our listeners?
Danny : Just always seek a qualified electrician. You see it on the literature all the time and it’s the best advice you can get really because It’s definitely not something to be messed about with, but at the same time enjoying life. That’s side innovation is you know yourself for some great ways to turn rooms it. So something that pops up a little bit of an extra punch from visible features, to the actual fittings themselves, there’s just loads of great ideas out of it’s worth looking into. Don’t just go for your usual pendant in the middle of the room if you, if you’ve got the chance to do it, go for other things.
James : What’s your opinion on these controlled devices at home now, like a google home or Alexa or something like that. Where you have got all plug sockets everywhere
Danny : It’s really smart my missus actually got me one for Christmas and I have not got around to sorting out my switches and all the other palaver that goes with it yet. But we have seen, I’ve seen them in use and it’s definitely the future. I don’t like the idea of if shout at my lights to turn on, but I’m guessing at some point it will be a lot easier to do.
James : I’m going to go completely off the cuff here. I’ve just remembered another question I wanted to ask you. Have you been on a job where, I don’t know, maybe something’s gone wrong. They’ve hired a building company, they’ve hired an electrician who thought, was a good electrician and then they’ve called you in to have some work corrected. Has there ever been a time where you’ve gone, you’ve just gone, I cannot believe that they’ve done this? What was it?
Danny : Unfortunately there is more than a dozen that I can pick out of my head. One of the worst ones was we had an extension done that’s actually called off my mate who’s a bricklayer and he had been called out because part of the gable end started to fall away at the top and which he was saying how bad it was, obviously I’m not a bricklayer so I don’t know, but I turned up and the we ended having to take all the plaster off the walls and the cables that they had used they weren’t even clipped up they’d used screws to rest the cables on they’d used the wrong size cable for sockets? The cooker was spurred off a spur and it’s just things like that and its just so annoying because they paid top money for this work as well and it’s just so annoying and we ended up having to rip out and start again. Unfortunately for the client. But it’s a shame
James : If anyone is ever in doubt, like there could be a listener right now that has got like a live project on if they’ve in doubt about their electrician or you know, they don’t think that something is quite right. What would you give them, what advice would you give them to do?
Danny : Phone an electrician up, because most of us would be more than happy to see someone in a safe environment, you know, it’s, they might charge you for coming out to have a look, but it’s for peace of mind. It’s, it’s a no brainer really, It’s always good to have a second opinion.