Consumer Units and Fuse Boxes
Consumer Unit/Fuseboard Maintenance
The fuse board or consumer unit is an essential part of any electrical system, it's where all the electrical wiring from all around the house meets, so that each part can be connected to a fuse. Not only does it distribute the electrical supply, but it also contains essential safety devices to protect your property. The fuse board must be wired correctly and must also be regularly inspected. Every part of the home electrical system needs to be fused including the lighting, cooker, sockets, heating and shower etc. Problems can arise from an overload and when parts of the electrical system's wiring begin to fail. Many properties still use old fuse boards, so we highly recommend that if you are experiencing a fault with your fuse board or unit, don’t wait – this needs to be tended to urgently, as soon as a problem arises. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Herts and Beds Electrical as we have the experience needed in all aspects of electrical safety.
Why does a consumer unit need upgrading?
Old type fuse boards must be replaced by a next generation Consumer Unit, which meets BS7671 amendment 3, this regulation came into force in January 2016. To ensure electrical safety around the home, the unit must be installed by a registered electrician. A consumer unit can be replaced at any time but this is quite often carried out at the same time as a rewiring job, an electrical repair or any other job that will require compliance with the new regulations. However, before the replacement unit can be installed a test must first be carried out to ensure the existing wiring system is suitable for the new unit.
Rewiring isn’t a DIY job and should only be carried out by a fully qualified electrician. At worst, faulty electrics can be a serious fire hazard and can lead to injury or electrocution. This is why electrics were brought under the building regulations Part P. If you are considering buying a property more than 25 years old, it is important to check that the wiring is up to date before you buy. If you’ve just moved home or you live in an older property with aging electrics, it is possible that the existing wiring in your home will not meet the current required electrical standards. Ask Herts and Beds Electrical to check the wiring for you so that you can get an idea of the work required and an estimate of the potential costs involved. Contact us today for a quote and to find out more about the range of services we can offer.
When is Rewiring Necessary?
- If a property has not already been rewired within the last 25-30 years, it is very likely that it will need upgrading at least in part, in order to bring it up to current standards. Old wiring can be potentially dangerous and may not be able to cope with the demands of using many modern appliances at the same time.
- Any major re-modelling work to your property which constitutes a material alteration as defined by the Building Regulations, will probably mean that you will need to rewire at least part, if not all, of the property, this will often include upgrading the consumer unit (fuse box).
- Home extensions, including attic or garage conversions, constitute new work and require the new wiring to conform to Part P. All the existing wiring may also have to have to be upgraded to ensure that can carry the additional loads safely, and that it is earthed to current requirements and that cross bonding is satisfactory.
Electrical faults can be elusive and it is not always obvious where the fault is and exactly what is causing it. It may just be a blown fuse, or it could be a much bigger issue. With our vast experience in fault finding, Herts and Beds Electrical will be able to diagnose the fault for you, we’ll fix the fault and take the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you notice a fault in your home and can’t see an obvious fix get in touch.
The Five Point Fault Finding approach
Herts and Beds Electrical use a recognised method for fault-finding , which is referred to as the Five Point Fault Finding approach. The most important factor in this method concerns getting as much ‘information’ as possible about the ‘cause & effect’ of the fault.
- Gather Information – ask as many people as possible, who where present, when & how the fault occurred.
- Analyse Information – determine the probable cause based on past experience and training.
- Investigate – locate the fault based on your analysis.
- Rectify – repair the fault.
- Test – when the fault is repaired & restored, test the repair.
Smoke Detectors and Smoke Alarms
We install, repair, service and replace smoke detectors for homeowners. Smoke detectors are critical for detecting property fires and they provide an early alert to escape the property safely and quickly. All new builds comply with the latest health and safety regulations but if you live in an older property, it may be wise to ensure your smoke detectors are working and that they are up to date. Give us a call today and we will be happy to perform an audit of your property to ensure your smoke detectors are working as they should.
Types of Smoke Alarm
There are a number of different types of Smoke Alarm available which come in 6 different grades of performance in the standard ranges, these grades identify the equipment used for the smoke detector. Grades A, B and C are alarms that include fire detectors, central control equipment (usually battery controlled) and alarm devices. Grades D and E powered by the mains electrical supply and are smoke alarm systems which detect the presence of smoke or CO2, you can also get a Grade F system which is a smoke alarm that is battery powered.
- Mains-powered smoke alarms
These are the most reliable domestic and commercial smoke alarms since they run off your home or buildings main power supply. Once the Smoke alarm is correctly installed you will not have to test the battery regularly, although they do have a battery back up in the event that you have a power cut. These smoke alarms need to be installed by a qualified electrician.
- Linked or interconnecting alarms
If you have a large home or need a smoke alarm fitted in a commercial building then a linked or interconnecting alarm is recommended. These are smoke alarms that trigger other alarms to go off in the event of a fire. So when one alarm detects smoke all of the alarms in the property will go off alerting people all over the building that may not have heard the original alarm. These alarms can be linked up to more complicated systems such as triggering water sprays or unlocking electric doors for quick exits.
- Mains-powered fire alarm with vibrating pad and strobe lighting
You can get smoke alarms that are fitted with strobe light and vibrating pads, these are ideal for elderly people or people who have hearing difficulties as the alarm alerts you with flashing lights and a vibrating pad placed under your pillow will wake you if you are sleeping.
- Standard-battery alarms
The most popular battery alarm used in the home is the standard battery alarm which is an ‘ionisation battery alarm’. This is the cheapest smoke alarm available and is quite basic, although does the job. You can also get an ‘optical battery alarm’ which is also quite cheap although a little more expensive than the ‘ionisiation battery alarm’ and both standard alarms run using a 9-volt battery.
- Battery alarms with an emergency light
Battery alarms with an emergency light have a fitted light that comes on when the alarm is triggered, this is quite useful if you have someone in the family who struggles with hearing and can also be useful as a guide to illuminate the scene in the dark.
- Fire Alarms with 10-year batteries
Ideally you want a smoke alarm that will last a long time therefore many people prefer to buy a smoke alarm with a 10 year battery. These are more expensive than standard 9-volt battery alarms but can save you money in the long run as you don’t need to replace the batteries as often as you would with a standard smoke detector. These smoke alarms come as an optical or ionisation alarm however the battery is usually a long life lithium battery or a sealed pack battery that can be guaranteed to last for 10 years.
- Smoke detectors with a ‘hush’ or ‘silence’ button
Some alarms and smoke detectors come with a ‘hush’ button this will silence the alarm for a few minutes and is useful for kitchens where the alarm may be triggered with cooking. These hush mechanisms will be overridden if there is a significant amount of smoke which would indicate a real fire. Once you have silences your smoke alarm they will either display a red flashing light or make a ‘chirping’ sound to remind you that you have silenced it.
- Mains-powered smoke detectors that plug into your light socket
This is a more simple type of alarm that uses a rechargeable battery that you plug into your light socket to re charge when the light is switched on. You can use your light switch to test or silence the smoke alarm and lasts a long time, although we do recommend you replace it fully after 10 years.
As many people often forget to test their fire alarm we recommend you opt for a smoke alarm that will last a long time