How Often Should You Carry Out Fixed Wire Testing and What is a Routine Check?

It is a question we are regularly asked, how often should I carry out Fixed Wire Testing? And the answer involves several factors.

How often Fixed Wire Testing should be conducted must be determined taking into account the type of installation, its use and operation, the frequency and quality of maintenance and the external influences to which it is subjected. This type of testing is an obligation under The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the IET’s 18th Edition Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2018 defines the acceptable standard against which the installation should be assessed.

The environment in which an electrical installation is being used has a significant impact on the frequency it should be tested. For instance the maximum period between inspections and testing in an industrial environment is 3 years whereas for shops it’s every 5 years. The 18th IET Edition Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2018 sets out a table detailing the guidance on the frequency of formal inspections of electrical installations as well as routine checks.

What is a Routine Check?

The IET Wiring Regulations table also sets out guidance on the regularity of routine checks. We have been asked on several occasions, what is a routine check? According to the IET, electrical installations should not be left without any attention between formal inspections. The routine checks between formal inspections need not be carried out by an electrically skilled person but should be done by somebody who is able to safely use the installation and recognise defects.

Routine checks involve looking for:

  • Breakages
  • Wear/deterioration
  • Signs of overheating
  • Missing parts (covers, screws)
  • Loose fixings

These checks should confirm:

  • Switchgear accessible (not obstructed)
  • Doors of enclosures secure
  • Adequate labelling in place

When checking the operation of the installation you should check the switchgear (where reasonable), the equipment, and switch on and off, including RCD’s (Residual Current Device, using test button).

A maintenance programme that includes Fixed Wire Testing ensures that the Health and Safety of your employees and visitors to your site is safeguarded. Routine checks between formal inspections further protects your premises. See the full recommended initial frequencies of inspection of electrical installations.