Expert View: Are you switched on to electrical issues in the home?

Alastair Woodgate, Rumball Sedgwick

Alastair Woodgate, Rumball Sedgwick - Credit: Archant

Alastair Woodgate of Rumball Sedgwick, St Albans’ and Watford’s leading firm of chartered surveyors, considers the issue of electrics in the home.

I’ve just returned from a seminar on both electrical safety and energy saving options in domestic properties – we surveyors know how to have a good time! But, actually, it covered two really important issues and, as a surveyor, I want to give my clients relevant and useful advice to help them manage and live in their properties to best advantage.

There are, on average, 21,000 accidental house fires, 350,000 serious injuries and 70 deaths every year from electrical accidents. Every installation deteriorates with use and you need to ensure your property’s electrics are in a safe and serviceable condition.

For electrical repairs, my overriding advice is to go only to an electrician registered with NICEIC or ELECSA. There are numerous electricians in the district who meet this criteria.

Here are some simple tips to keep your property safer:

• Get a full electrical inspection and test at least every five years or at a change of occupancy. This report is like an MOT of the electrics.

• Carry out your own visual check every six months, checking for worn or frayed wires and cables, signs of blackness or scorching around sockets, (which could indicate overloading) and for any broken electrical accessories

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• Check for signs of sparks coming from plugs or appliances

• Use an RCD (Residual Current Device) for added protection against electric shock

• Test smoke alarms regularly

Energy prices have risen by 88 per cent since 2004. In 2014, for a three-bedroomed house, the average electricity bill was £1,604 and the average gas bill £752. At current usage, by 2025 the cost of monthly energy bills is predicted to exceed monthly mortgage payments. To reduce your level of energy usage and lower your costs consider the following – most of which are pretty obvious:

• Replace traditional tungsten or filament lamps with low energy alternatives

• Check the hot water cylinder and hot water pipework are properly insulated - this will reduce the heating costs of the building

• Aim for a minimum of 300mm of roof insulation – in an un-insulated building as much as 25 per cent of all heat produced is lost through the roof

• Make full use of thermostats to keep your property at a comfortable temperature without wasting heat.

• Get a smart meter and monitor your usage

• Switch off lights and appliances (and don’t leave them on standby) when they’re not being used

For all your property queries contact Alastair and his team of surveyors at Rumball Sedgwick on 01727 519140 or email