The Ultimate Guide to EICR
An EICR is an Electrical Inspection Condition Report carried out by a qualified electrician to assure the electrical safety of your electrical installation – the test assesses and approves the safe operation of electrical installation throughout your property.
Regular testing is recommended for homeowners – depending on the property this could be anywhere between annually and once every 5 years. For private-renting landlords in England and Scotland, from 1st April 2021 it will be required by law to have new EICR tests every five years.
Why should I arrange an EICR test?
First and foremost, an EICR draws attention to any electrical faults or hazards that could put you at risk, whether that’s a risk to personal safety, or a risk to tenants if you are a landlord, or customers if you own commercial property. It is required by law from April 1st, 2021 for English and Scottish privately renting landlords to undertake an EICR for new and existing tenancies.
EICR certificates are also important when you are buying or selling property. Surveyors are becoming increasingly interested in the condition of electrical installations as well as the structural integrity of a building. Arranging an EICR inspection prior to selling can expediate the process and for buyers and providing a history of regular EICR test certificates demonstrates to buyers that the property has been well cared for. As a buyer, requesting an up-to-date EICR certificate offers peace of mind and ensures you are not in for any nasty surprises if you choose to purchase the property.
It can also be worthwhile to arrange an EICR test prior to engaging in renovations as this will give you a professional report detailing necessary electrical updates. You can engage your contractors with greater knowledge and understanding of the requirements and present them with a notarized plan of action which could save you money and ensure your building works follow a clear brief.
What does an EICR test cover?
The test assesses the condition, performance and safety of your electrical installations. The electrician performing the test will be particularly mindful of degradation or hazards. If there are any cracks or breaks in components, or evidence of overheating, the equipment will need to be replaced.
Some older properties may still use cartridge fuses which should ideally be replaced with an RCD protected board. A fuse works by melting the metal wire inside when there is a current surge, while an MCB – Miniature Circuit Breaker – uses a switch which trips down when there is a fault. The RCD/MCB board offers greater protection against electrocution that trips when there is a fault.
After the initial visual inspection, the electrician will disconnect each electrical installation from the mains power supply. Some circuits will undergo dead testing which looks at a) the continuity of a circuit – whether it has been connected correctly so that electricity and faults can flow unobstructed, and the integrity of the wiring and components such as switches and fuses – and b) how well insulated the cable is to address the risk of short circuits, electric shocks, and fire.
The electrician will also perform live testing to confirm the components and circuitry are in a suitable condition to continue operating without risk for the future. There will be a test to time how long the system takes to disconnect when a fault is registered, to ensure that this occurs within a safe and compliant amount of time.
Equipment such as sockets, switches, power outlets, and light fittings will also be examined.
Once the electrical testing is complete, the electrician will give you an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). The report contains detailed feedback on the status of your electrical installations and conclude your installations to be either satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
These classifications are judged against the BS7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations, published in IET Wiring Regulations, which set the UK standards for electrical installations.
What happens if my property receives an ‘unsatisfactory’ EICR classification?
There are a number of issues that could be flagged as part of an EICR test which could result in an unsatisfactory classification:
- Issues with equipment or circuits that might cause overheat the overall system.
- Any potential fire hazards or risks of electric shocks.
- Safety concerns relating to the earthing of equipment or circuitry.
- Faulty electrical installations that could pose hazards or cause injury.
The severity of the faults found during the test correspond with error codes, outlined through detailed feedback in the report. These codes are:
C1 – This means danger is present, risk of injury is likely and changes are required immediately.
C2 – This refers to any potential dangers or hazards and recommends urgent changes.
C3 – This suggests improvement to your electrical installation is recommended but not required. This is the only grading that you can receive while still potentially able to receive a satisfactory EICR.
Following the completion of any work outlined in the original report, and once your electrical system has fully passed the inspection, you will receive an EICR Certificate of Safety.
Is EICR testing a legal requirement?
In Scotland, landlords are legally required to regularly undertake EICR testing on their property to guarantee the safety of their tenants from fire hazards and electrical accidents.
The government has also introduced mandatory five-year electrical safety checks in England for the private rented sector – this includes all new tenancies beginning on or after 1st July 2020, and from 1st April 2021 this also includes all existing tenancies.
How often should I get a new EICR?
Business Owners/ Commercial Properties – on average, you should arrange an EICR test every five years, however depending on the size and age of the building, and complexity of circuitry, you may need to increase the frequency, so it is best to seek advice from a qualified EICR tester.
Landlords – you should arrange an EICR test every three to five years, or when you have a change in tenants. For landlords renting privately in England and Scotland, five-year tests are mandatory.
Holiday lets – the rules are the same for holiday lets as they are for long-term lets: you are required to arrange an EICR test every five years, and you must be able to present an up-to-date copy of the report to guests or to the local authority if requested.
Homeowners – you should arrange an EICR test every three to five years depending on the recommendation from previous inspections, however if you have a swimming pool it is recommended that you have an EICR test performed annually.
Homebuyers – it is recommended that you or your surveyor see an up-to-date EICR for the property you’re looking to purchase. If you are not satisfied with how recent the report is, you can ask the seller to arrange an inspection – however this may be at your cost as it is not a legal requirement.
What is the difference between EICR and EIC testing?
An EIC, or Electrical Installation Certificate, certifies the correct and safe installation of an electrical system when it is first fitted. An EICR periodically reviews the ongoing safety and condition of the installation without necessarily fixing any hazards or faults.
What is the difference between EICR and PAT testing?
The electrical certificate obtained as a result of a satisfactory EICR confirms there are no hazards or faults, electrical defects or safety problems causing risk of injury, electric shocks, or fires. The EICR covers electrical installations and components as they relate to the overall electrical system. PAT testing – or Portable Appliance Testing – assess all electrical equipment used in conjunction with the electrical system is safe to operate. This essentially includes anything with a plug – from a tumble dryer to a hairdryer.
The aim of the testing process is the same – to ensure safety and compliance – however PAT testing specifically applies to rented properties and workspaces to ensure the safety of tenants and protect the liability of landlords and employers.
How much does an EICR test cost?
So how much does an EICR test cost? This really depends on the size of your property. Testing for standard households starts at around £99 and can vary in price up to around £200. For commercial properties this can be more, depending on the size and complexity of circuitry.
When comparing electricians to perform your EICR test, make sure to check they are fully qualified and have completed to the 18th edition wiring regulations. If remedial works are required always use approved an electrician registered with an authority such as NICEIC or NAPIT this allows a quick part P notification.
The EICR only reports on recommended maintenance and does not include any necessary updates. Like an annual car MOT, the test itself merely highlights the faults, the corrections cost extra.
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