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Electricity is used everywhere in our homes and we would find life very difficult without it. Imagine no light, no heating, no kettle or hairdryer - how would we cope? Although electricity is fundamental to life as we know it, it is also potentially very dangerous. Therefore it is important that we are aware of the safety precautions we need to take to make sure we are using it safely.

Plugs, Sockets & Cables: Things to watch out for that could spell danger

hot plugs and sockets

fuses that blow for no apparent reason

flickering lights

scorch marks on sockets or plugs.

damaged cables

These are all signs of loose wiring and/or other problems. If a plug or cable becomes damaged or broken in any way THROW IT AWAY do not tape it up and continue using it.

Overloaded Sockets

Ensure that you DO NOT plug too many appliances into an adaptor as you could overload the socket, which can lead to overheating.

It is better to use a bar adaptor on a lead, rather than a block adaptor.

Don’t plug adaptors into adaptors. Only use one adaptor per socket.

Don’t allow the total current used by the appliances plugged into the adapter to add up to more than 13 amps of current altogether - or 3,000 watts of power. So, for example, you could have two 2 amp appliances and one 5 amp in an adaptor.

That means you should never run more than one appliance that uses a lot of current, such as a kettle or television, from one socket.

Badly Wired Plugs

If any wires are sticking out of a plug, not only could they be pulled loose but water, dust or debris could get inside the plug and become a potential fire hazard.


The fuse is designed to stop overheating. If the wrong fuse is fitted and there’s a problem, a fire could occur. The following indicates the correct fuse that should be used depending on the wattage of the appliance in question:

appliances that use up to 700 watts: 3 amp fuse

appliances that use 700 to 1000 watts: 5 amp fuse

appliance that use 1000+ watts: 13 amp fuse

If in any doubt check the appliance handbook.

The Danger of Water & Other Liquids

Don’t let cables or plugs get wet. Keep ALL liquids away from electrical appliances. For example don’t put a vase on top of the TV and don’t fill the kettle up when it’s plugged in.

All About Part P

Part ‘P’ and what it means to you. If you are planning to extend or alter the electrical installation in your home, such as providing extra sockets in the kitchen, or adding new ceiling lights, don’t attempt it yourself. Ensure you employ a competent electrical contractor or electrician.

The Government introduced a new law in January 2004 which demands that most electrical work in UK households is only carried out by a ‘competent’ person ie. registered with an approved domestic installers scheme eg. NICEIC, Elecsa, ECA, STROMA, Napit, Etc.

What is the electrical safety law?

Electrical safety requirements have been included in a new Part P of the Building Regulations. The Building Regulations deal with the health and safety of people in and around buildings by providing functional requirements for building design and construction.

The law states that anyone carrying out fixed electrical installations in households in England and Wales must ensure that electrical installations are:

Designed and installed to afford appropriate protection against mechanical and thermal damage, and so that they do not present electric shock and fire hazards to people.

Suitably inspected and tested to verify that they meet the relevant equipment and installation standards.

What is a fixed electrical installation?

Many improvements carried out in the home include some form of fixed electrical installation.

For example, a new kitchen may require your electrician to install additional sockets, extra lighting and appliances. A fixed installation is the wiring and appliances that are fixed to the building, such as sockets, switches, consumer units (fuse boxes) and ceiling fittings.

Who is responsible for ensuring that the electrical work carried out in my home meets safety requirements?

You are. It will be a legal requirement for homeowners and landlords to be able to prove that all fixed electrical installations and alteration work have been carried out and certified by a competent person. That is, by an electrician registered with a Government approved body such as the NICEIC,Napit, STROMA, Etc.

How will I benefit from the electrical safety law?

You can expect to have safer, better quality electrical installation work because all electrical contractors will be working to BS 7671, the national safety standard.

You will also be further protected against unsafe work as all electrical contractors are now required to offer their customers the option of additional protection through an insurance-backed warranty.

Part P

What is Part P?

In 2005 the Government introduced electrical safety rules into the Building Regulations for England and Wales. Because of this, most fixed electrical installation work in homes must, by law, meet the Building Regulations.

Part P states that anyone carrying out electrical installation work in a home must make sure that the work is designed and installed to protect people from fire and electric shocks.

Part P applies to any changes made to existing installations, including any parts that have been rewired. In April 2013 further changes were introduced, reducing the range of electrical installation work that is notifiable - removing some requirements in kitchens and outdoors.

You can find full details on Part P on the Communities and Local Government website:

Electricians carrying out work in England and Wales have to comply with Part P of the Building Regulations whereas in Scotland it is the Building Standards system. At the present time Northern Ireland has no equivalent statutory requirement.

What electrical work is covered by this law?

All electrical installation work in a home, garden, conservatory or outbuilding must meet the Building Regulations.

Apart from some types of minor work, all electrical work must either be reported to the local-authority building-control, or be carried out by an electrician who is registered with one of the Government-approved scheme providers.

Who is responsible for making sure that electrical work meets the requirements of Part P?

By law, all homeowners and landlords must be able to prove that all electrical installation work meets Part P, or they will be committing a criminal offence.

Local authorities can make homeowners or landlords remove or alter any work that does not meet the Building Regulations.

What do I need to do before electrical installation work can be carried out in my home?

You must either:

tell your local-authority building-control about the installation work before it starts; or

employ an electrician who is registered with one of the Government-approved Part P schemes.

We recommend that you use a registered electrician to do the electrical installation work.

The advantages of using a registered electrician are:

you will not have to pay any building-control charges;

the electrician can deal with everything for you;

the electrician will arrange for you to receive a certificate that confirms the work meets Building Regulations;

you have access to a formal complaints procedure if the work doesn't meet Building Regulations; and

you can choose to take out an insurance-backed guarantee when you have the work done, and you can make a claim if the work is later found not to meet Building Regulations.

What does Part P of the Building Regulations mean for me?

If you use a registered electrician, you can expect to have safe electrical installation work done, as the work will meet the UK national standard, BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations). When the work is finished you will receive:

an Electrical Installation Certificate or Minor Work Certificate that confirms that the work meets BS 7671; and

a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate that confirms that the work meets the Building Regulations.

Is it important who carries out electrical installation work in my home?

Yes. Electrical installation work must be carried out only by people who have the knowledge, skill and experience needed to avoid any danger to themselves and others.

We strongly recommend that you use a registered electrician to do any electrical installation work you need. They work to the UK national safety standard and will give you a safety certificate to confirm that their work has been designed, inspected and tested in line with that standard.

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