A periodic inspection will check if your electrical installations have any faults that are unidentifiable with a simple visual check. Several faults could occur, such as electrical circuits overheating or becoming overloaded during use. If an electrical circuit is not installed properly – for example, without bonding or earthing to secure the electrics safely – it could potentially lead to a fire or shock hazard. Periodic testing will pinpoint any defective electrical installations.
Once a periodic test is completed, you’ll be given a certificate called an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR). The report will outline any deterioration, damage, defects or other dangerous aspects of your electrical system, plus anything that isn’t aligned with current safety standards or could place people at risk.
If a periodic test comes back negative, the EICR will be recorded as “unsatisfactory”, indicating that work is required immediately to remove the risk to anyone who is living or working in the property. The report will also show which electrical system(s) failed the periodic test. Any required work is classified using specific codes:
C1 – this means ‘danger is present’, there is a likely risk of injury and action is required immediately.
C2 – potentially dangerous with remedial action needed urgently.
C3 – improvements to your electrical system are recommended. This is the only code that can appear on an EICR and still pass the test.
FI – further investigation is required.
When your electrical system has fully passed the periodic inspection and any urgent remedial work is complete, you will be supplied with an EICR Certificate of Safety, giving you the reassurance that your electrics are safe.
The required frequency of fixed wire testing is determined based on the installations' use, the operating environment and external influences on which it might be subjected. Guideline testing intervals for different types of organisation are set out within the latest Electrical Standards (currently BS7671:18th Edition).
Fixed wire testing in a commercial office is typically every five years whereas testing in a home is typically every ten years whilst a spa or swimming pool would require an annual inspection. An electrical installation exposed to a wet environment will most likely deteriorate quicker than one in a dry environment and therefore the testing is required on a more frequent basis.
Larger companies or those with multiple sites may choose to test part of the site at a time for example, for a 5-year testing frequency, 20% could be tested each year, or 33% each year for a 3-year frequency. This can help spread the cost and minimise disruption. As long as the entire installation is tested within the required testing interval, it is ok to spread the testing in this way. In addition to the stated intervals, an appropriately competent person should perform visual interim checks.