Electrical Inspection and Testing Procedures
Regular testing and inspection of both fixed electrical installations and portable appliances, completed by qualified electricians, is the most effective way to ensure compliance with health and safety law.
Identifying and rectifying defects helps to maintain safe functioning of electrical equipment. Testing should consist of both scheduled visual inspections and tests. Electrical inspection and testing procedures are determined by the type of installation:
- Initial Verification Inspection and Testing: For new build or alterations to fixed electrical installations
- Periodic Inspection and Testing: Fixed wire tests of existing electrical installations
- Portable Applicance (PAT) Testing: Portable electrical appliances
Testing should be performed by qualified electrical engineers, experienced in electrical inspection and testing procedures and use of the relevant testing equipment.
In addition, basic, visual inspections of electrical equipment (both fixed installations and portable appliances) carried out on a regular basis can identify wear, tear, faults and defects before developing into a serious hazard.
Electrical inspection and testing procedures should be approached on a planned, preventive basis, taking into consideration:
- Appropriate frequency of testing and inspection
- Record keeping
- Equipment labelling
Fixed installation testing
Fixed installations include equipment such as:
- Electrical control systems – switches, alarms
- Plant & machinery – heating and ventilation systems, air con, process equipment, lifts, manufacturing equipment
- Pumps and motors – drainage, water, sewerage
The following testing procedures are required to ensured effective maintenance, safe operation and legislative compliance for fixed electrical installations.
Periodic fixed testing
A programme of regular testing and inspection of a building’s electrical installations and systems can ensure continued compliance and maintenance. A periodic inspection report (PIR), should be provided by the electrical engineer who conducted the test, identifying potential or existing defects to be rectified. These issues will be coded as follows:
- Code 1: for urgent attention and immediate remedial action to bring the installation to the required standard.
- Code 2: for improvement.
- Code 3: for further investigation.
- Code 4: non-compliant with BS 7671.
A new PIR should be issued after completion of the corrective works, confirming the installation is now BS 7671 compliant.
Fixed wire testing and routine checks of electrical systems and installations should be conducted on a sufficiently regular basis to ensure continued compliance and safe operation. The IET Wiring Regs, BS7671, recommend the following be adhered to as a minimum:
|Type of installation||Routine check||Maximum interval between|
|Domestic accommodation –|
Domestic accmomdation –
rented houses and flats
|Change of occupancy/10 years|
Change of occupancy/5 years
|Residential accommodation (Houses of|
Multiple Occupation) – halls of residence,
nurses accommodation, etc.
|1 year||Change of occupancy/5 years|
|Educational establishments||6 months||5 years|
|Industrial||1 year||3 years|
|Commercial||1 year||Change of occupancy/5 years|
|Offices||1 year||5 years|
|Shops||1 year||5 years|
|Laboratories||1 year||5 years|
|Hospitals and Clinics|
|Hospitals and medical clinics –|
Hospitals and medical clinics –
|Buildings open to the public|
|Cinemas||1 year||1-3 years|
|Church installations||1 year||5 years|
(excluding swimming pools)
|1 year||3 years|
|Places of public entertainment||1 year||3 years|
|Restaurants and hotels||1 year||5 years|
|Theatres||1 year||3 years|
|Public houses||1 year||5 years|
|Village halls/Community centres||1 year||5 years|
|Special and specific installations|
(for medical locations see above)
|Agricultural and horticultural||1 year||3 years|
|Swimming pools||4 months||1 year|
|Highway power supplies||As convenient||6-8 years|
|Marinas||4 months||1 year|
|Fish farms||4 months||1 year|
|Emergency lighting||Daily/monthly||3 years|
|Fire alarms||Daily/weekly||1 year|
|Petrol filling stations||1 year||1 year|
|Construction site installations||3 months||3 months|
New electrical installations
Fixed installations must be certified as safe and compliant with BS 7671:2018 where they are either:
- newly-installed or
- alterations involving new circuits have been made to an existing installation.
Minor installation works
Where an existing installation undergoes minor alterations, additions or replacements, and these changes do not include new circuits, a certificate of minor installation works will be needed. The documentation is to detail information about all of the works and tests carried out, for each circuit affected.
Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the regular safety examination of portable electrical appliances and equipment, using visual inspection and specialist testing equipment.
A portable appliance is generally understood to be an electrical item that can be easily moved and has a plug attached, or that can be attached (such as a charging lead for a mobile phone), for power supply. For example:
- Office equipment – computers, printers, vending machines
- Kitchen appliances – kettles, fridges, toasters
- Tools – handheld, mains-powered tools including drills, soldering irons, pressure washers
Read our summary of how regularly PAT testing should be conducted.
Do you need help with Electrical Inspection and Testing Procedures?
Emelec are highly experienced in conducting fixed wire tests and inspections in environments as varied as large-scale industrial, hotel chains, schools, retail outlets and leisure and entertainment centres and residential properties.
We can help with your electrical and fixed wire testing needs, carrying out the full testing and inspection requirement and advising on your maintenance programme to ensure compliance with the law. We can also provide a quote to carry out any remedial work identified during testing to bring the installation to standard.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute direct advice.