Q: Some lampholders seem to become brittle after a relatively short time in use. Why is this?
A: This is usually due to overheating either because of inadequate ventilation of the bulb or lampholder or by installing a bulb rated above the thermal capability of the lampholder.
Lampholders marked T1 for example are not designed for incandescent lamps rated above 60W.
Q: Are there special plugs and sockets for outdoor installations and if so why?
A: Yes. We like most mainland Europe countries do not consider indoor plugs to be suitable for outdoor installations subject to weather and rough handling and so ordinary 13A sockets to I.S. 401 are not suitable for outdoor use. Like all socket outlets up to 32A, they should be protected by an RCD. The Rules require that outdoor sockets and industrial sockets comply with IS/EN60309 standard. In this system both the plug and socket are hard wearing and are deemed to be suitable for outdoor use. The single phase plug is coloured blue and the socket is inclined towards the ground to prevent the ingress of moisture. They may be more cumbersome than the flat pin plug system but they are safer.
Q: As a letting and property management agency, we would like to enquire how often the ETCI periodic testing is required in rented accommodation. Do you have any literature on this?
A: Regulation 89(b) of SI 299 of 2007, as amended by SI 732 of 2007 applies to the workplace and requires that an employer shall ensure that existing electrical installations be tested by a competent person from time to time (periodically), that a report be completed and that all defects found during the testing and inspection be rectified promptly so as to prevent danger.
HSA guidance in this area indicates that correctly functioning RCDs are key to minimising risk and preventing shock or electrocution. An RCD must be tested by regular operation of the test trip button, as stipulated by the device manufacturer This would ensure that the RCD would be less likely to fail to operate when needed as any ‘stiction’ difficulties (electro-mechanical protective devices that are exposed to any moisture and dust are likely to stick if not operated periodically) would be overcome.
While the ‘push to test’ should ensure that the RCD will operate when required, it should also be functionally tested by a competent person periodically to ensure that it operates for the rated leakage current (e.g. at 30mA) and within the time permitted (e.g. < 0.3 seconds). Such testing should form part of the periodic installation tests as outlined in Regulation 89 (b).
ETCI fully supports the HSA guidance in this area. ETCI also recommends that the ‘push to test’ button be operated at least twice per year and suggest that this be undertaken in March and October when the clocks are put forward or back.
There is also other legislation in place, e.g. ‘The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008’. Its Regulation 13 states: Electricity and Gas – Installations in the house for the supply of electricity and gas shall be maintained in good repair and safe working order with provision, where necessary, for the safe and effective removal of fumes to the external air.
The Technical Guidance Document for the regulations states:
- The following will prove compliance with the Regulations:
- A current ETCI Periodic Inspection Report by a registered electrical contractor for the electrical installation in the house.
- The result of the tenancy inspection shall show a standard which requires that “no remedial work is required”.
Dublin City Council Environmental Health Department have put a policy in place that fully complies with this legislation and ETCI recommends that such a policy would be appropriate to others in the Letting and Property Management business. Contact Dublin City Council for details.
As for places of employment, be it your own home or be it rented accommodation, ETCI also recommends that the ‘push to test’ button be operated at least twice per year and suggest that this be undertaken in March and October when the clocks are put forward or back. In addition ETCI recommends that SMOKE DETECTORS be checked and tested at least every March and October.