Managing a commercial space goes beyond day-to-day tasks, it also involves overseeing the safety of the building's electrical systems. Overlooking any issues can cause disruptions and safety concerns, so it becomes very important to recognise the key signs that indicate the need for a professional electrical safety inspection, to maintain a safe and functional building.

5 Warning Signs You Need An Electrical Safety Inspection

  1. Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips

Frequent circuit breaker trips or blown fuses in a commercial building can disrupt workflow and productivity. These interruptions may also be hinting at overloaded circuits, faulty machinery, or systemic issues within the electrical setup. A professional electrical safety inspection can pinpoint the problem areas and prevent operational disturbances.

Fuse box with white switch
  1. Flickering or Dimming Lights

Flickering, dimming, or inconsistent lighting can be more than just an annoyance in a commercial space. It can impact employee productivity and create an unprofessional environment for clients or customers. Such issues might be indicative of wiring problems, inadequate fixtures, or excessive loads. A comprehensive inspection can identify and rectify these concerns promptly.

  1. Unusual Sounds

Unusual sounds like buzzing, crackling, or humming coming from electrical components could signal potential hazards within the system. Ignoring these audible cues in a commercial setting poses safety risks to employees, customers, and the building itself. A professional electrical inspection will address these concerns and mitigate potential dangers.

  1. Visible Signs of Damage 

Any visible signs of damage, such as burn marks, discolouration, or a distinct odour around outlets, switches, or electrical panels, demand immediate attention in a commercial building. Not only do these indicate potential overheating or electrical faults, but they also pose serious fire hazards. A professional safety inspection will diagnose the issue and recommend necessary repairs or replacements to safeguard the building.

  1. Ageing Infrastructure 

Commercial buildings often have older electrical systems that may not keep up with the increasing power demands of modern technology and machinery. Outdated wiring and components can lead to safety risks and operational inefficiencies. An electrical safety inspection will assess the system's condition and recommend upgrades to ensure compliance with safety standards.

Man inspecting fuse box

Any Other Signs?

Beyond these visible signs, be vigilant for warm outlets, recurrent appliance issues, or persistent power outages, as these could also signify underlying electrical problems in a commercial setup.

Common Causes of Electrical System Degradation

The degradation of a commercial electrical system can stem from various factors that impact its functionality and safety. 

  • Factors such as rodent infestations, particularly by rats and other pests, pose a significant threat as these creatures can gnaw on wiring and insulation, causing damage and potential short circuits. 
  • Adverse weather conditions, including lightning strikes, heavy rains, or flooding, can also damage electrical components, leading to malfunctions or complete failures. 
  • Exposure to corrosive chemicals or contaminants in industrial environments can erode wiring and equipment, compromising their integrity. 
  • The age of the building and the electrical system itself contributes to degradation, as older systems may not meet the demands of modern technology or adhere to current safety standards. 
  • Additionally, discrepancies between outdated electrical drawings and the actual wiring layout can lead to confusion and errors during maintenance or renovations, potentially affecting the system's efficiency and safety. 
  • Lastly, inadequate installation or repair work can create weak points in the electric system, inviting future issues and hazards.

old cables starting to degrade

EICR Certificates

What is an EICR Certificate?

An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is an in-depth assessment of your building’s electrical system, specifically designed to pinpoint any shortcomings that could potentially jeopardise safety. 

This thorough inspection is conducted by a certified electrician and involves a detailed visual examination of the electrical setup, along with testing and measurements of the circuits to ensure they meet safety standards.

How Often Should I Get an EICR Certificate?

The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) recommend that you get an EICR test done at certain intervals:

  • Commercial Electrical Installations: every 5 years or on change of occupancy
  • Industrial Electrical Installations: every 3 years or on change of occupancy

Please keep in mind that the registered electrician conducting your EICR test will determine the appropriate timing for the next inspection. Their expertise and assessment of your electrical system will guide the recommended schedule for future inspections.

Is an EICR Test Mandatory?

While there might not be a strict legal mandate for EICRs in all commercial buildings, it's generally advisable to conduct regular electrical safety inspections as part of good practice and to ensure the safety and functionality of the electrical systems. 

The frequency of these safety inspections can vary based on factors specific to the property, its usage, and any industry-specific regulations. Consulting with a qualified electrician or relevant regulatory authorities can provide tailored guidance on EICR requirements for a particular commercial building.

Want to Learn More about EICR?

For more information, please visit our EICR Certificate page.

Electrician giving a thumbs up whilst testing

Be Aware of the Risks and Stay Updated with Safety Standards

Overall, ensuring the electrical safety of a commercial building is crucial for business continuity and the safety of everyone within the premises. Regular electrical safety inspections conducted by certified professionals, tailored to the unique needs of commercial settings, are fundamental in identifying and resolving electrical issues promptly.

At Highland, we specialise in comprehensive electrical safety inspections for commercial buildings, so if you’ve observed one of these warning signs, or it’s been a while since your last inspection, then contact us today!

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