Skip to content

Testing & Inspection & Electrical Installation Condition Reports

All installations should be regularly Inspected and Tested.  A generally rule of thumb for this would be every 5 years but that is not set in stone.  If there has been a lot of changes to an installation over time, or if there are lots of general problems with an installation then Testing & Inspection could help.  Immediately before or after (Ideally before) the sale of a property an EICR, or Electrical Installation Condition Report, is a good idea.

Electrical Certificates fall into one of only a few categories;

  • Minor Works Certificates
  • Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC)
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)

Minor Works Certificates

Please note that not ALL electrical works require the issue of a certificate at all, but really this is what the Minor Works Certificates are designed for.  Minor works cover a large range of work but the keyword is ‘Minor’.  These can include, replacement fixtures and fittings where no wiring has changed, additional fixtures and fittings but on the same circuits as existing, repairs or disconnection of redundant electricals.  Any work that requires the provision of a new circuit is not classed as ‘Minor’ and so cannot be certified using a Minor Works Certificate.  Any work that cannot be certified using a ‘Minor Works Certificate’ must be certified using an ‘Electrical Installation Certificate’ or EIC.  This literally covers everything else from new circuits, to replacement consumer units to full re-wires.

The main difference is that the Minor Works certificate is a very basic outline of what work has been done and on which circuit it has been completed on.  It should be noted that a Minor Works Certificate should be completed for each and every circuit that Minor Works has taken place on so it is possible when renovating a bedroom for example, 2 minor works certificates would be required.  One for changes to the Lighting and one for changes to the sockets. 

Electrical Installation Certificates

A more thorough Electrical Installation Certificate will contain far more information and requires details of the installation that maybe have not even been worked on but by requiring this information the Electrician will need to perform some basic checks and comment on the outcomes within the certificate.  The certificate can therefore be used by the electrician to inform the customer of things they have seen which are currently outside of the regulations but are not necessarily anything to do with the work they were asked to complete.

Installation owners should keep ALL electrical certificates as a permanent record of what has been completed on the installation over time just like a car’s log book.  If an installation is then completely re-wired, a new EIC should be issued which in effect will replace ALL the certificates issued up to that point.  Be careful though because if only a partial rewire has been completed, older certificates may still apply.  Moreover, an electrician should not be listing any work which is currently outside the regulations that they have completed.  ALL their work should be within the regulations.  For example; they should not be replacing a consumer unit and then listing on the report that the wrong type of breakers have been used.

Both the certificates discussed so far are for an electrician to certify any and all works they have completed on an installation.  It is therefore not possible for an electrician to simply sign a certificate for work they have not completed.  In doing so the electrician would be taking responsibility for work they did not complete and moreover may not have even seen.

Electrical Installation Condition Report

EICRs are extremely good ways of keeping track of the condition of an Installation.  An electrician should be qualified in this area to be able to perform a periodic inspection of an installation.  In this case the electrician is absolutely inspecting work that they did not necessarily complete themselves.  The electrician is not obliged to correct any deviations from the regulations but is simply declaring what needs to be done and why. 

It is not always practical to actually inspect and test every single socket outlet, light switch and other electrical fixture in the property and it is usually impossible to inspect every cable in every wall and above a ceiling or under a floor.  It is therefore acceptable to note on the certificate what limitations of the inspection exist and what will be done about this.  If only a 20% sample of sockets have been inspected this should be noted.  It is most common on a domestic EICR that 100% of circuits in a consumer unit are inspected with a sample rate of 20% of fixtures and fittings within each circuit.  Some larger sites may have periodic inspections every year where each year different circuits are inspected so that across a 5 year period, 100% of the circuits have been tested.  This is a good way of doing things as the more general areas of the installation such as the meter and the installations Earthing arrangement will be inspected far more regularly for any issues.

What makes an Installation SATISFACTORY or Un-SATISFACTORY?

Firstly, it should be noted that ONLY an EICR should be awarded a SATISFACTORY or UN-SATISFCATORY Status.  A minor works or Electrical Installation Certificate by definition should be SATISFCATORY (Again it is possible to list on an EIC all the things which are not right but as such there is no UN-SATISFCATORY option).  On an EICR, every item raised which is currently outside the regulations will be awarded a Code; C1, C2, C3 or FI.

A C1, coding is stating that this item is dangerous in its present state.  This danger poses an immediate risk to the users of the installation and so the installation, as a whole, will instantly be UN-SATISFACTORY.  In fact, the electrician inspecting the installation is NOT allowed to leave the installation in it’s current condition and MUST either rectify the C1 issue or isolate the supply to either that circuit or to the whole installation in order to make it safe.

A C2, coding states that an item is potentially dangerous.  ‘Potentially’ dangerous really means that right now it is not dangerous but should something occur that is outside the normal operation of the installation it will become dangerous.  So, if the main Earthing conductor was damaged on an installation this would be awarded a C2 coding.  That is because the Earthing conductor is not used during ‘normal’ operation of the installation and so the situation is technically not dangerous.  But if a fault occurred anywhere on the system, the Earthing conductor would not be able to protect against that fault and a situation would then become dangerous.

Once again a single C2 entry would deem the installation as UN-SATISFACTORY and remedial action would be required in order to rectify the problem and a SATISFACTORY outcome achieved.

A C3 coding is something outside of the regulations but is not covered by either of the above.  The word ‘minor’ could be used or ‘advisory’ but we don’t wish to suggest that a C3 is ok.  At the end of the day a C3 coding is still outside of the regulations and so action should be taken to rectify them or at least reduce the number of C3 items present.  If it was not important at all it would not be included in the regulations, it’s just that another few event would need to take place before a C3 item could progress to be a C1 item.  For example; A socket has a crack through it would be coded a C3.  There are no exposed parts currently.  If the socket further deteriorated and live parts were exposed then this would warrant a C2 or maybe even a C1.  But even then, the Earthing and protection devices are still present to mitigate the problem.

An EICR may contain an unlimited number of C3 items and still be considered SATISFACTORY.  A high number of C3 items would however also indicate that the installation is maybe not in the best possible condition and improvements should still be made.

FI (or Further Investigation required) is generally used if the Inspector does not have enough time to get to the bottom of what they are seeing.  An FI Coding could be used if a circuit’s function is unknown.  They cannot track down what a circuit is for and therefore if it is still in use or if it should be disconnected.

A single FI coding would render an installation as UN-SATISFACTORY.  This is because some portion of the installation has not been properly inspected and so other C1 or C2 items could still be present.

An EICR covers the entire Installation unless specific parts are listed in the Limitations indicating that the certificate does not cover them.  That means an EICR will replace ALL Certificates issued up until that point.  It is still useful however, to hang onto to those certificates as an historical record of what has been completed previously.

Do I have to have a valid EICR to sell my Home

No.  There is no legal requirement to have an EICR completed.  However, if you don’t have one, or if you don’t have Electrical certificates for any electrical work you have had completed then the buyer should simply assume that work will be required to get the installation up to the correct standard.  Having an EICR completed is straight forward and very cost effective for property sales purposes and so not having one should ring alarm bells.  Why would a seller not have one unless they knew they had problems.

It is, however, a legal requirement to have an EICR certificate for an installation that you rent.  The landlord of any such property must provide a copy of a valid EICR at the commencement of a tenancy and should have subsequent periodic EICR inspections completed no less than every 5 years.

What is actually Involved in having an EICR completed?

Ultimately the length of time taken to properly test a domestic home depends on how big the installation is.  A 1 bedroom flat will obviously take less time to inspect than a 6 Bedroom Mansion.  This will also be reflected in the cost.

The electrician completing the inspection will need to see the meter, and the Earthing arrangement and the Consumer unit.  They will need to see the gas meter and the water main.  They will need to take the consumer unit apart and will conduct a lot of measuring and testing at the consumer unit.  Some of this testing will require the Installation to be isolated and other parts of the testing will involve the Installation to be live.  So you should expect the power supply to interrupted for the duration of the inspection.  This will include any broadband that the property is using.  The inspector will need to visually look round the entire installation.  Looking for any and all electrical fixtures and to try and see their physical condition.  They will need access to fixtures and fittings like, showers, boilers, ovens and hobs.  They will need to at least sample (And actually remove and test) a selection of sockets, switches, light fittings and any other electrical outlets.  They will need to see the condition of any wiring in a loft space and will want to access any outside electrical sockets or lighting around the property.  If you have a garage or any outbuilding with an electricity supply they will need to see these as well.

It is likely only a sample of Sockets, lights and switches are to be fully inspected (Taken apart) so fixtures which are not easily accessible may be avoided – That said, you should try and not make this the case with subsequent testing although if a socket is not easily accessible then generally it may not be used as often as the rest either.  Again, switches that will cause damage to the decorating whilst be removed may be avoided providing enough alternatives can satisfy the sample rates being used but this also should be avoided for any subsequent testing.

Giving the electrician a brief history of any electrical works which have been previously completed will be very valuable.  A good inspector can tell pretty quickly if the work was completed to a high standard or not can often be a good place to start from.