If you are responsible for a building or rental property, you may have heard the word ‘EICR’ mentioned, and are not entirely sure what it means.
We’ve put together this guide to help you find out more about what EICR is, and why it is essential to help keep you safe.
- What is the meaning of EICR?
- What other names are EICR inspections known by?
- What do you mean by 'electrical installations'?
- Is an EICR mandatory?
- Why do I need to get an EICR done?
- How long will an EICR take?
- How often do I have to get an EICR?
- I'm a landlord, and I've been told I need to get an EICR. Why?
- Do I need an EICR if I live in a domestic property?
- How do I tell how many electrical circuits I have in my building?
- What happens during an inspection?
- Does the power have to be turned off when carrying out an EICR?
- What does the EICR report contain?
- What are remedial works?
- What do the EICR codes mean?
- What happens after an inspection?
- How much does an EICR cost?
What is the meaning of an EICR?
EICR stands for ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’. It was previously known as ‘Fixed Wire Testing’.
An EICR is when your electrical installations are tested by a ‘skilled’ person to ensure they are safe and they will not cause any fire risks or electric shocks.
What other names are EICR inspections known by?
EICR inspections are known by a variety of different names, including hard wire testing, periodic inspection and electrical safety certificate.
EICR inspections are often referred to as 'hard wire testing' because installation components like light fittings, fuse boxes and plug sockets are ‘hard wired’ into the building and cannot be easily moved.
What do you mean by ‘electrical installations’?
An electrical installation comprises all the fixed electrical equipment that is supplied through the electricity meter.
An electric installation consists of:
- Consumer unit (fusebox or distribution boards) that contains all the fuses, circuit-breakers and preferably residual current devices (RCDs)
- Cabling including those hidden in the walls and ceilings
- Accessories (such as sockets, switches and light fittings)
Is an EICR mandatory?
It depends on what the EICR inspection is for. EICRs are mandatory for some buildings, but not all of them.
EICR for commercial landlords
An EICR for a commercial building like a shop, factory or office does not have to be carried out by law.
However, an EICR can be the best way of making sure the fixed electrical equipment in your building is safe.
EICR for residential landlords
EICR inspections are required by law for rental properties and HMOs in England and Scotland, in order to protect tenants and their possessions.
Why do I need to get an EICR done?
If you own a business, office or a rental property, you have a legal responsibility to ensure employees, customers and tenants are kept safe.
Old, faulty and malfunctioning electrical installations not only cause electric shocks but also pose a fire risk.
18% of domestic fires in England are caused by faulty wiring and cabling, so it is vital to make sure all electrical installations are safe to use.
An EICR is the most comprehensive way of keeping your installations safe.
How long will an EICR take?
It depends. The time it takes to carry out an EICR can vary depending on the size of the building and the number of circuits that need testing.
Any major issues that the electrical engineer finds will need to be put right, which can also take time to do.
How often do I have to get an EICR?
The testing intervals depend on the building. As some buildings are more prone to risk than others, they may need an EICR more frequently.
For example, swimming pools need an EICR every year while offices and schools only need one every five years.
The electrical engineer carrying out the testing will specify how often the testing intervals are, depending on the environment and the overall condition of the electrical installation.
So the answer to the question "how long does an EICR last?"... it depends!
I'm a residential landlord, and I’ve been told I need to get an EICR. Why?
The laws regarding electrical checks for landlords changed in April 2021.
If you are based in England, any tenancy has to have a valid EICR certificate, which must be renewed every five years.
You can find out more about the law and what you need to do to stay compliant in 2021 in our EICR guide for landlords.
Do I need an EICR if I live in a domestic property?
It’s not a legal requirement to get an EICR in the same way as a rental property. However as the homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your property is safe.
For example, if a faulty electrical fitting in your home caught fire and ended up damaging a neighbour’s house, you would be responsible for the damage.
If you claim damage on your home insurance, your insurer may refuse your claim if they believe your electrical systems have not been maintained.
It is recommended that you get an EICR carried out in a domestic property every ten years. It is generally assumed that homeowners take more care with their electrical installations than people who are renting. This is why it is recommended that an EICR is carried out every ten years instead of five.
If you are moving to a new house (that isn’t a new build), we’d recommend that you get an EICR carried out when you move in. This will reassure you that the electrical installation in your new home is up to standard.
If you are moving into a new build or a property that has been completely rewired, you will be given an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). This will show that your electrical installation complies with BS 7671 (IEE Wiring Regulations).
How do I tell how many electrical circuits I have in my building?
When you book an EICR inspection, the company will ask how many circuits you have. This will help them determine a price and how long it will take to carry out your testing.
If you don't know this number, there are two things you can do:
- Send the company a copy of your previous EICR report
- Send the company a photo of your circuit board. They will be able to use this to work out the number of circuits you have
What happens during an inspection?
During an EICR inspection, a qualified electrician or electrical engineer will inspect the electrical installations in your building.
The electrical engineer will carry out a visual inspection, checking for cracks, breaks and signs of overheating. Electrical testing will then be carried out where voltages and currents are used to check the safety of the different circuits.
If issues are found, they will be recorded and detailed in the report.
Does the power have to be turned off when carrying out an EICR?
EICR testing involves both live (power on) and dead (power off) tests. Most of the testing is carried out while your electrical system is live. However, to carry out some tests, the power needs to be turned off.
As long as they are clearly labelled, circuits can be powered off individually, meaning there will be less disruption in your building.
However, there are two options if you can't switch the power off.
Testing with limitations
On the EICR survey report, there is a section called ‘extent and limitations of inspection and testing’.
If certain circuits can’t be turned off or accessed by the electrical engineer (for example, wiring under floors or at height), then these are included in this section.
The electrical engineer will highlight if there are any limitations on-site and communicate/agree these with the site contact. They will then detail in the report if there is anything they are unable to test or only partially test.
Thermal imaging is when an Infrared camera is used to take photos of electrical installations.
Infrared cameras identify heat, so they can be used to see if an installation is overheating due to a fault or damage, without having to turn it off.
If you work in an industry or building where you cannot turn electrical circuits off, like a factory or prison, then combining EICR and thermal imaging can be effective.
Plan ahead for the best EICR results
If the power cannot be switched off or certain circuits cannot be accessed, our electrical engineers will still be able to carry out the majority of testing for you.
However, we would recommend planning so you can test as much of the installation as possible on the day. This may involve ensuring access to the full building (for example the loft and the basement), and advising staff and tenants that electrical equipment may need to be temporarily turned off.
This will ensure that your EICR inspection is as comprehensive as possible and does not miss anything out.
We can help by carrying out testing at quiet times for your business, for example, in the evening or at weekends.
What does the EICR report contain?
After the inspection, you will be provided with a report. This report will contain:
- Details about the premises that were tested and who they were tested by
- Any limitations (for example, if only a proportion of the installations were tested or if some circuits were not able to be turned off)
- Whether the inspection was satisfactory or unsatisfactory (i.e. ‘pass’ or ‘fail’), in line with the 18th edition wiring regulations (BS 7671)
- A breakdown of all the issues identified and the classification codes. This will be broken down by individual room or area
- An inspection schedule showing what has been tested and the results of each test
The electrical engineer will talk you through the report and advise what work needs to be done to bring any installations back into a safe condition. You can then organise remedial works.
Keep the report safe – you may need to provide a copy to your local authority or insurance provider if asked.
What are remedial works?
Remedial work is work that needs to be carried out after an EICR inspection to make your building safe.
After the inspection, your electrical engineer will advise what work needs to be done. Depending on the complexity of the work and your electrical engineer's availability, they may be able to carry any remedial work out straight away.
Otherwise you will need to arrange for the work to be carried out after the inspection. You don't need to use the same electrical engineer - if you have a copy of the EICR report they can use this to see what needs repairing.
The cost of the remedial work will depend on what needs to be repaired. Replacing a socket will be less expensive than rewiring part of your electrical installation.
Remedial work is needed to turn an 'unsatisfactory' EICR into a 'satisfactory' one.
What do the EICR codes mean?
There are four codes used in an EICR inspection.
An EICR inspection will be marked as ‘unsatisfactory’ if you get any C1, C2 or F1 codes.
C1 – Danger Present. Risk of Injury. Immediate remedial action required
This is the most high-priority code used in an EICR inspection. This means there is a risk of electric shock or fire if the issue is not made safe as soon as possible.
An example of a C1 code could be the exposure of live electrical parts, deteriorated insulation or broken light switches/plug sockets.
To resolve a C1 code, the issue will either need to be repaired, or the relevant part/circuit isolated and taken out of use.
C2 – Potentially dangerous – urgent remedial action required
This means that this fault is not immediately dangerous in the same way as a C1 code is, but it could quickly become a hazard in the future.
An example of a C2 code could be the absence of mains protected bonding or earthing, or an RCD that does not trip when tested.
C3 – Improvement recommended
This means that this part of the installation is not in line with the wiring regulations, but it does not present any immediate danger. Alternatively, improving it would enhance the safety of the electrical installation.
An example of a C3 code could be the location of a plug socket which could potentially cause damage to a plug or flex.
Think of this code like an ‘advisory note’ on an MOT. You don’t have to get it fixed, but it is recommended you do.
FI – Further investigation required without delay
This code means that the electrical engineer has identified an issue, but they need more time to investigate it. When they do this they will be able to determine the severity of the issue.
What happens after an inspection?
If your report comes back as satisfactory, then there is no further work that needs to be done (unless you want to resolve any C3 issues).
If your report comes back as unsatisfactory, you will need to organise remedial work to get any issues investigated and repaired.
The exact process and timescale depends on whether you are a commercial landlord or residential landlord.
EICR for commercial properties
If you are getting an EICR inspection carried out for a commercial property (for example an office, factory or school), you must carry out any repairs promptly. You aren’t bound by the 28-day deadline that rental properties are, but you do have a duty of care to get repairs carried out as soon as possible.
Your insurance company may request to see the EICR report and any written confirmation of work in the event of a claim.
In both circumstances, you don’t need to have another EICR inspection carried out.
EICR for rental properties
If you are getting an EICR done for a rental property, you must carry out repairs within 28 days of the initial inspection (or sooner if the report specifies it).
The electrical engineer or electrician will provide written confirmation that they have completed the work. You must then supply this to your tenants and local council within 28 days of the repairs being carried out.
How much does an EICR cost?
It depends on the environment and the number of circuits in the building.
If you request a quote from us, we will provide you with a bespoke quote unique to you and your circumstances.
If you are looking for a reliable, thorough company to carry out your EICR certification, we are here to help.
We have experience working in rental properties, offices, schools and factories to ensure that electrical installations stay safe.
Whether you are a commercial or residential landlord, contact us today for more information and your no-obligation quote.
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