Consumer unit change check list
Make sure it’s fully tested before the change takes place
This is called an electrical installation condition report (EICR)
Consumer unit change check list
The installation needs to be fully tested before the consumer unit change takes place. This is called an electrical installation condition report (EICR). The reason for this is the electrician carrying out the work is legally responsible for the installation after the consumer unit change. The electrician cannot leave any unsafe circuits switched on that have a code C1 or C2 and further investigation required attributed to it.
In my opinion, there are three scenarios if you don’t complete the testing first.
- The electrician changes the fuse board and does not test the Installation properly. He makes the results up and gives you a worthless certificate. You are none the wiser until further down the line.
- The electrician can hold you to ransom, and tell you that he can’t switch the power back on to the faulty circuits until all the faults are rectified.
- You don’t get any certificate; the work is not registered and you have no guarantee. The best-case scenario is: you come to sell your property and you will be asked for the certificates. If you don’t have them, questions may be asked, creating unnecessary problems. The worst-case scenario is that electrical faults can cause fires. If you have had work done, and do not have a certificate of compliance, your insurance company may not pay out.
In our experience, a consumer unit takes a full day to carry out a thorough test of the installation. Providing there are no code 1’s, 2’s or further investigation, the consumer unit takes the best part of a day to install to a high standard (depending on the amount of circuits involved). Personally, I like to terminate the cabling into some 100×100 galvanised trunking around the fuse board. Look at my picture gallery (link) under consumer unit changes, so that you can compare work.
Do’s and don’ts
- Do get your installation tested first, as well as a quotation for the remedial work required. This will give you an idea of the total cost involved. If an electrician is quoting £399 for a consumer unit change, chances are, they are not allowing for testing. Always make sure an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) is included and the work is registered.
- Don’t always go for the cheaper option. One of the reason that I put in 100×100 metal trunking is to enable future cabling to be quickly and neatly installed later. This adds to the cost and takes time, but it looks neater and can save you money and hassle in the long run.
- Do take into consideration that the power will be need to be off for most of the day. A temporary supply can be put on for essential appliances, like fridges and freezers.
- Don’t put on your dishwasher or washing machine.
- Do remember that working from home could be problematic as things like internet, boilers, heating and sockets may not be working.
- Don’t get lured in by a cheap quotation for testing. A lot of companies out there are only allowing minimal time to give a visual inspection and minimal testing. The problem with that is you won’t get a complete picture and it will cost you a lot more in the long run. If you’re only paying for someone to skim the surface, then you won’t get a complete picture. The electrician will simply state what he has found so far and give you a quotation to remedy these faults and complete the testing. On their second attempt, they may find more faults that were not identified the first-time round, as they could not complete the testing. You will then receive another quotation for more remedial work required, all the while they are drip feeding you information and slowly costing you more money. Personally, I like to know where we both stand, and give you a clear picture. To achieve that, I spend a day completing the test and inspection. I do my best to thoroughly test each circuit, and identify as many problems as possible within that time frame. This way, I can give you the most accurate as possible quotation for the remedial work, and try my best to avoid any hidden costs or surprises.
- Do plan ahead – maybe go out for the day, or even a part of it. This will enable us to get the most done in the shortest amount of time.
What happens after your consumer unit has been changed?
Introducing an RCD (link to RCD blog) to your home is currently one of the safest ways to protect your family. If you didn’t have an RCD before, your home was only protected by an over current device that operated by limiting the flow of electricity through it. The basic principle being that the fuse protects the cables and accessories attached to it. If you had a 32A fuse, you can protect a 40A cable from overloading and catching fire. If you had a 40A fuse protecting a 32A cable, the cable will deteriorate and could then catch fire before the fuse blew.
An MCB or a rewireable fuse only detects faults between live and earth or live and neutral. With a fuse, you also had the potential for a sustained period of electricity flowing before it blows. The higher the fuse, the longer it could take to blow. If you had a neutral to earth fault, the fuse would not blow and your metal work, pipes and face plates could potentially have become live. An RCD or RCBO detects a fault between the neutral and earth, and trips out quicker than 0.4 of a second, even if the power is not on.
For this reason, it can throw up faulty appliances that were not previously causing a problem. In our experience, any metal appliances with water and electricity such as ovens, water tanks, electric showers, kettles, washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers, boilers and outside lights can cause problems once an RCD or RCBO has been fitted.
What to do if a fault occurs
My fuse box keeps tripping – help!
A fuse box that keeps tripping indicates that you have a faulty electrical item, or faulty wiring somewhere in your home. Working out what is wrong is largely a process of elimination, and you can usually narrow down the problem yourself.
Why does my electricity keep tripping?
Well, RCDs, or Residual Current Devices, look out for abnormal electricity currents and shut off the power supply the moment that they detect any abnormalities. This might seem annoying, but they are a vital safety device and ensure that faulty wiring does not lead to electric shocks. So, don’t get too irritated by a tripping RCD – this is likely a sign of a more serious problem and the RCD is doing you a favour by keeping you safe.
What is an RCD or RCBO and where will I find it?
The RCD (shown below) will usually be in a fuse board or enclosure. A cheap fuse board installation will usually contain 2 RCDs protecting around 5-6 MCB’s each. The best fuse board installs will incorporate a main switch and have separate RCBO’s for each circuit.
The fuse board will usually be next to the electricity meter, at the back of a kitchen unit, in an airing cupboard or the cupboard under the stairs.
Although the following advice could help you resolve the problem and get your electricity supply working again without the help of an electrician, Pure Electric Ltd remind you that electricity can kill, and that you should not perform any electrical work if you are not 100% confident in your abilities. We take no responsibility for any injuries people sustain when following the guidance on this page.
Fault finding a tripping fuse box
When did the problem start? Think about when the fuse box started tripping. Did you turn on a lightbulb, overload a socket, or plug in a new electrical appliance? Switch off and unplug the appliance or fitting and try again.
If you don’t know what might be causing the fuse box to trip, look at the switches and work out which fuse is tripping alongside the RCD. This will allow you to identify the room or circuit the fault is located in. Unplug every appliance and fitting in the room, switch the electricity supply back on, and then methodically go around the room plugging things in until the RCD trips. Bear in mind that one of your electric appliances or fittings is faulty and could be dangerous, and although your RCD should protect you, this is not guaranteed.
If you can’t narrow down the area of the problem, then unfortunately you must unplug everything in your house, and then plug everything back in again one at a time.
If you discover that an appliance which is causing your fuse board to trip, you don’t necessarily have to change it; minor problems, such as damp wiring, can lead to this problem. To stay on the safe side, claim on your appliance protection cover and get an expert to come and look at the appliance. If you haven’t got appliance or home emergency cover, we can come on our call out rate of £60+VAT for the first hour then £40+VAT per hour thereafter to locate the problem.
Are you overloading your circuits? If you’re boiling a kettle, making some cheese toasties, running the washing machine and dryer, and hoovering simultaneously, you could well be overloading your electricity, particularly if you have a lot of appliances plugged into the same sockets on the same circuit.
Don’t overload your sockets – doing so is incredibly dangerous!
Is one of your electric cords shorting out? Perhaps you have moved the cord recently, or maybe it is visibly damaged. If there is a break in the cable or visible copper core, this can create an imbalanced connection and cause the RCD to trip your circuits.
Is the main breaker going but individual breakers are fine? This indicates that the fault is within the fuse box itself; perhaps the main breaker is at a lower rating than the breaker for the faulty circuits, or perhaps the main breaker is wired up badly. It is highly inadvisable for you to start fiddling about with the fuse box’s interior if you are not trained in how to do so.
Still having trouble?
Don’t attempt to make any changes to your electricals if you are unsure or not confident. Some electrical work in the home requires compliance with Part P building control and needs to be done in accordance with BS7671 wiring regulations. Don’t forget – electricity is VERY dangerous and can kill you.
Instead, call Pure Electric on 07932 630907 and we can help. Our technical teams will run through some very simple troubleshooting with you over the phone to see if your problem can be resolved easily and if not, they will book one of our Part P certified and highly knowledgeable engineers to get you back up and running as soon as possible.
Pure Electric Ltd accepts no liability for any injuries or damages you sustain following the advice on this website. If in doubt, seek professional assistance.