What is involved in Fixed Wire Inspection & Testing?
Fixed Testing involves the testing of electrical services and systems that conduct electricity around a building. It covers all of the hard wiring in a building and includes items such as main panels, distribution boards, lighting, socket outlets, air conditioning and other fixed plant.
The testing involves performing a sequence of rigorous visual inspections and electrical tests on all systems in the building.
Guidance Note 3 of the IEE Wiring Regulations states:
"Where diagrams, charts or tables are not available, a degree of exploratory work may be necessary so that inspection and testing can be carried out safely and effectively. A survey may be necessary to identify switchgear, controlgear, and the circuits they control."
In practice this means that engineers carrying out the testing should initially aim to correctly identify all circuits in an installation by looking at a combination of circuit labelling and previous test information and by carrying out circuit tracing where necessary
Minimising workplace disruption
Guidance Note 3 also states:
"Periodic tests should be made in such a way as to minimise disturbance of the installation and inconvenience to the user. Where it is necessary to disconnect part or whole of the installation in order to carry out a test, the disconnection should be made at a time agreed with the user and for the minimum period needed to carry out the test. Where more than one test necessitates a disconnection where possible they should be made during one disconnection period.
A careful check should be made of the type of equipment on site so that the necessary precautions can be taken, where conditions require, to disconnect or short-out electronic and other equipment which may be damaged by testing."
Fixed Testing inevitably causes some disruption on the site due to the requirements for disconnecting electrical circuits at various times during the testing. For this reason careful planning and time management is a necessity, and in practice testing is often best performed outside of normal working hours.
The results and extent of fixed testing should be recorded on an Electrical Installation Condition Report and provided to the person ordering the inspection, usually the Duty Holder. The report must include the extent of the work, limitations, details of defects and dangerous conditions, and schedules of inspections and test results.
Immediately dangerous conditions should be rectified or reported without delay to the relevant duty holder. Other recommendations and observations should be reported using standard observation codes to indicate the severity of each observation.
EICR and observation reports can be provided and stored in any format (printed or digital) and many contractors now offer online document access as part of the service, providing easy access to the client.