Periodic Inspection and Testing - How often?
Your electrical system needs inspecting and testing periodically, but how frequently should this be done? In this article we look at how often should your electrical system should be inspected and tested, and who dictates the frequency.
The following list details what needs to be done with regards to electrical checks, inspections, and testing.
- Routine Checks
- Inspection and Tests
In addition to this, we advise a Thermographic Survey.
Informally, every part of your system and each piece of equipment needs to be checked every time you use it. For example, each time you use a particular appliance you should make sure the power lead is in good condition, or when you operate a switch or isolator it should work correctly. These are basic routine checks that occur normally. Should any item be suspect it should be reported, and further checks carried out. Formally, a more routine check should be carried out at different intervals, depending on use and age of the installation. These intervals vary considerably. Some guidance is given in the IEE Guidance Note 3, Inspection and Testing. We will look later at this guidance. These checks do not need to be carried out by an Electrical Inspector, they are mainly checks for obvious damage or faults, and functionality.
Inspection and Tests
These are much more involved and would need to be carried out by a competent person, the finding are also required to be reported. IEE Guidance Note 3 also states the recommended initial frequencies of inspection and tests. Below is a list of common installations and recommended frequencies.
- Domestic - Change of occupancy or 10 years.
- Hospitals - 5 years
- Industrial - 3 years
- Offices - 5 years
- Shops - 5 years
- Churches - 5 years
- Theatres - 3 years
- Public houses - 5 years
- Construction sites - 3 months
The important point to note is the IEE Guidance Note 3 states, recommended initial frequencies. This is the duration from the first inspection and test of the installation, usually when the installation was first completed, to the first periodic inspection and test. The electrical inspector, being a competent person, can apply their engineering judgement to define what they think the frequency should be. If the record of tests show that the system is not deteriorating as fast as might be expected, the frequency could be extended. The same would apply in reverse, if the records show the system appeared to deteriorating faster than expected, the frequency may be shortened. An electrical system that is designed and installed correctly, and is not subjected to overload is a good candidate for extending the frequency. Though it is worth bearing in mind there can be external factors that can dictate this frequency, such as insurance companies insisting on say a 3 year inspection and test. Your written report could be used to try and get the insurance company to allow an extension.
A thermographic survey report can also be helpful in persuading the insurance companies that the system is in good order. We often recommend a thermographic survey every year, and extend the periodic inspection and test. The thermographic survey should pick up any developing problems before they become a real issue. It should be noted that a thermographic survey cannot replace a periodic inspection and test, but they can used to extend the frequency.
Your electrical system and equipment should be routinely checked when it is being used. The frequency of periodic inspections and tests will depend on varying factors that effect the installation. The recommended frequencies can be adjusted to suit a particular installation, by a competent person. A thermographic survey can help determine the condition of the installation and help extend the frequency.
Peter J Church
If you want more information please contact us.
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