Lab Impex Systems

I used to be part of the Team that developed Lab Impex Instrumentation. I spent many years from the mid 80’s onwards writing software for Lab Impex Equipment until Lab Impex were sold to Ultra (NCS) Electronics in 2015. If you have any old Lab Impex Radiation monitoring equipment and you need to know something about it -maybe how to communicate with it? Drop me an email.

Landlords Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)

Updated 24 May 2021

I expected this to happen. I have seen several EICR’s from Landlords carried out by “local” Electricians. – They have FAILED inspection!

Your first starting point if you are concerned about failures on your EICR is to refer your Electrican to the current version (2018) of BS 7671 …

Reason: EICR is always made against Current Regulations (18th Revision) which came into force 1st January 2019, however allowance has to be made for the regulations that were current when the current electrical system was “installed”. So, what is NOW considered Dangerous (according to current regulations) was NOT considered Dangerous when it was installed. Its a bit like Car Seat belts. We All (?) think these are good Safety Feature of Modern Cars – but Cars built prior to 1962 do NOT need seat belts to be fitted, but they are still legal to drive and will still pass an MOT. (OK you don’t HAVE to have an MOT on such an old vehicle, but its still advised that you do). But would YOU want to ride in a car without Seat belts?

One problem seems to be that “Testers” are either ignorant of the fact that whilst the installation has to be tested against the current (18th) regulations, consideration has to be made of the regulations in force when the house was built. It seems that many don’t seem aware of this, don’t know their regulations history OR are looking to make good money while Landlords having left things to the last moment (EICR’s must be in place by 1st April) are like Rabbits Caught in the Car Headlights!

The testing identifies problems with the following labels:

C1: Dangerous NOW

C2: Dangerous if a Fault Occurs

C3: Improvement Required (Could do better!) – a bit like an Advisory on an MOT – Don’t dismiss it, be aware of the areas where your property does NOT meet current standards.

FI: Futher investigation: This means “he couldn’t figure something out” that was bothering him without spending more time – This is also a failure.

https://www.intersafe.co.uk/news/fixed-wire-testing-observation-codes-c1-c2-c3-and-fi-explained/

So, if YOU have had a recent inspection and the inspection flagged up:

NO RCD PROTECTION….. THEN CHALLENGE IT!

This means the Electrician is looking to do some expensive “remedial” work in order to Pass your Property as Safe! In other words – He wants at least a days work to replace your “Fusebox” and retest your house.

He may also have found other things (in your 20 -50 year old house) that does NOT comply with 2019 Installation Standards!

So here are some key points for all you Landlords that have received Fail Certificates:-

If your house electrical system was installed before these dates they do NOT apply to you:

  • RCD’s were NOT required on Lighting Circuits until January 1st 2019.
  • RCD’s were NOT required on ANY circuits until January 2008.

  • Cables Concealed in Wall less then 50mm – Not a problem for houses built before January 2008.
  • No RCD Protection for Circuits (or cables) passing through Bathrooms. (This is getting repetitive). Not a problem for houses built before January 2008.
  • Earth cables do NOT necessarily have to be 16mm – this depends on several factors including age of property.
  • Meter tails do NOT necessarily have to be 25mm – this depends on factors.
  • Downlights are not Fire Rated. This is Building Regs Thing… Ideally downlights should be Fire-rated for general safety (I won’t fit non-down rated ones) but if they are already in place and have been for some time its not an issue (C3?). New ones installed downstairs should always be Fire rated. However, there should be no blue/brown or black/red inner wiring exposed, and the earth wires should be connected around the circuit even if not used by the light itself. (C2 for inner wiring problem, C3 for lack of earth if the light is double insulated, C2 if the light needs an earth)
  • You do NOT have to have “Trips” (MCB’s) if “of an age” is OK to have “Fuses” or “Fuse wire” fuses.
  • If the Water pipe entering your property is PLASTIC as it comes out of the ground into your Kitchen (or wherever) it does NOT have to be Bonded to Earth. This is actually a change in the latest (18th) regulations, but in this case you CAN apply retrospectively.
  • However, IF you don’t have RCD’s you MUST have FULL BONDING on all your water pipes inside the house. – So this could fail you instead!

Having said that, I would not want to live, nor expect my Tenants to live in a house without RCD protection on at least the socket circuits. And if you have FULL RCD protection, you probably don’t need the Bonding anymore on your water pipes. The most sensible way to install RCD protection on all circuits is to replace the Fuse box – but I repeat – YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE RCD PROTECTION on houses older than 2008! – Unless you have your Fusebox replaced in which case it MUST be a full RCD type!

So, if you do have “NO RCD” problems flagged, you really *should* think about a new Fusebox for Safety – RCD protection could literally mean the difference between Life and Death – but you don’t have to have one fitted right now in a panic!

Other problems that are often incorrectly reported as C2 or C1:

  • No Earth on Lighting Circuit. Houses built before 1966 did NOT have to have Earth Circuits (we often call them CPC’s on our certificates). So this is not a fail either ?

Yes and no. If you only have Plastic Light fittings and Plastic Light Switches – then NO this is NOT a failure – you do NOT need a rewire – you just need a Safety Notice on your Fusebox as a Warning. If you do have Metal fittings anywhere on your lighting circuits – either you need a Lighting Rewire or replace all the Metal stuff with Plastic or fit “Double Insulated” metal light fittings and get a Warning Label on your Fusebox.

  • Bathroom fittings not IP rated. So? What exactly are these fittings are where are they located? A bathroom is divided into Zones. The worst is above a Shower or Bath – A shower (Zone 1) extends to 2.25 meters from the floor and Zone 2 extends 60cms to the sides to the sides. See this diagram for full explanation: https://www.jlmelectrical.co.uk/bathroom-zones-explained/

    So a “Pendant” or Batten light in the middle of the bathroom does not fail an EICR provided it is further than 60 cms from the Shower. A Down light above the shower does NOT fail EICR if it’s higher than 2.25m from the floor – however if its NOT splash rated (IPx3 at least) then he may have a point!
    https://www.jlmelectrical.co.uk/i-p-ratings-explained/
    Also if the cover is missing from the light fitting exposing live contacts, even if just the screw heads of a “chocolate block” connector – this is a failure – Live Contacts exposed!
  • Fusebox should be Metal, not Plastic. This only applies to Boxes installed after January 2013, if they are found to be Plastic, and this is not even a C3!
  • Smoke Alarms out of date or not working. Nothing to do with an EICR, Its good to know, but not grounds for Failure. However as a Landlord this could later find you in Court! So thank him for bringing this to your attention. Be aware the Smoke alarm may be wired in, therefore you might want him to replace them for you.

There will likely be a lot more “Faults” your Electrician may find – Some appear to be “made up” – i.e. Nothing in the Regulations at all.

Some faults may be “Building Regulations” issues – These are usually NO REASON to fail an Electrical Inspection – at worst these should be C3’s

If you have a failed EICR and an expensive bill to “fix it” – you can always call in another Electrician for a second opinion – The trouble is – he could be the first guys “Brother in Law” !

See here for more explanation – Its a guide for Electricians really – so if in doubt send him (or her) link to this page:

https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/professional-resources/wiring-regulations/inspection-testing-certification-and-reporting/

If you do have a Failed EICR you could email me a copy. I can’t guarantee to comment very quickly because I have LOTS of EICR’s to do!! (and very little fuseboxes to replace!) but it would be of interest to me to see whats going on.

If you really do not believe your Electrician after you have challenged his findings, then contact his “Registration Body” – NAPIT, ELECSA, NICEIC, STROMA etc. and see what they have to say. And if you HAVE paid to have “unnecessary” work carried out – again Contact his Registration body. Just Search the Internet for the Registration Body contact details.

If you are notified of any Failures (C1, C2, FI) – you are “Expected” to resolve these within 28 days. C3’s – Just think about them and plan to fix them.

Of course, just because of what I have said above does not mean that there are other things in your house that are not genuine failures. When an Electrician issues a PASS, HE is taking responsibility for the Safety from you and taking it onto his own shoulders – so he has to be careful what he accepts, with regards to “Safety” and the Regulations.

So what if I don’t have an satisfactory EICR in place by 1st April 2021?

If the local authority believe a landlord to be in breach of the duties set out by the regulations, they must serve a remedial notice to the landlord who must then carry out the action recommended.

If the local authority has concluded, beyond reasonable doubt, that a private landlord has breached their duties under the regulations, they may issue a notice of intent to impose a financial penalty. This penalty is determined by the local authority but cannot exceed the amount of £30,000.

I would think right now that the Local Council have got more pressing matters to be worrying about! – But you might find it more difficult to evict your Tenant if you don’t have one after this date. But you will find it very difficult to evict them anyway at present! (COVID-19)

I am only booking a maximum of 2 Days for EICR’s each week. That is a maximum of 4 EICR’s per week. This is to allow me to process the paperwork, attend to my other business etc. but I am still accepting more EICR’s – I am currently booking EICR’s into Late May.

Further reading:

http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php/Wiring_regs_history

https://www.niceic.com/www.niceic.com/media/PDF/FactSheet-Electrics-A4-4pp.pdf

and here…

Non-Contactless Credit Cards

If you are concerned about losing your “contactless” card and the Bank will NOT give you a non-contactless one… Here is how to fix it. I have several cards, all are protected using PIN’s that only I know. Nobody can steal my cards and wave them around!

Just snip around 8-10mm from the top right corner of the card. After doing this, If you hold the edge under light (or daylight if you are lucky enough to have some!) you should just about see the very thin wire track – this is the aerial and power pick up coil. Cutting this coil stops the card from working Contactless, but works perfectly as a Chip and Pin card. It also works perfectly as a magnetic stripe card.

Now a NON-Contactless card

Bailey Senator Series 6 Water leak around the front lockers down at floor level adjacent to the Bulkhead.

I had this problem when I bought my van at 8 years old. This is a design problem so it’s very likely that others have it too..

The problem is caused by a Water Trap behind the front locker / front bulkhead. Water gets thrown up here from the car when towing in heavy rain…

Fix:

  1. Treat the affected (and as yet un-affected arear) under the floor with Cuprinol 5 Star. In fact, why not go along the WHOLE of the underside on both outer edges.. See the staining and mould there… it’s getting damp!
  2. Then after a couple of weeks to dry… Spray the area with Waxoyl… Yes that Waxy stuff to stop cars rusting underneath.. NOT Underseal!!!!
  3. Spray into all the nooks and crannies especially behind the bulk head.
  4. Better still – use “brushing” Waxoyl and apply copiously… don’t worry about it running down your arm… it feels horrible, but it will wash off with some detergent – not so easy for your clothes though!
  5. Then a couple of weeks later – put some more Waxoyl on!
  6. I also recommend buying some Universal Mudflaps (Ebay!) for around £12, cut these to fit and fix them just behind the wheels by screwing a wooden batten just behind the wheel arch with the mud flap fixed to it using steel repair strips (B&Q). – and they apply Waxoyl.

I can upload photos of this if you really want!

Caravan front Window Stay breaking away at the window frame.

I have had this problem on a several vans now…

There are two solutions:

  1. STOP using your front Window Stay – That Front Window is HEAVY – to HEAVY for the lightwight cheap pine frame that the manufacturer used.
  2. Remove the “frame trim”, repair/ replace the wood, fit Steel repair plates to re-enforce the frame, refit the trim.

I’ve used both methods, but method 1 is easier!

I have photos showing method 2 if anyone is really interested.

Caravan Wheel Arch leaking water / Cracked / Damaged following “lost tyre” (damage from broken tyre)

I have had this problem on a couple of vans now.. There repair is reasonably simple and does NOT required removing the wheel arch. The repair is “permanent” and not too expensive.

If you are interested, I will document how I did it.

Caravan Floor “Bouncy” (De-Laminating)

I have had this problem with several caravans over the years. The first time, I paid a fortune to a local dealer to fix it…

The next times / next vans I did it myself.

It is fairly easy (apart for taking up and refitting the carpet).

I took photos as the time intending to document but I never did. If you are interested drop my a line and with encouragement I might get around to documenting how I did it much cheaper than dealer.

Thetford toilet flush… not working…

If your C250 Thetford toilet stops flushing there could be several causes…

  1. The pump has failed or cracked during a freeze over winter.
  2. It has “jammed”
  3. The “fuse” has gone or the Fuse Contacts have corroded (inside the toilet compartment at the rear).
  4. The Control panel has corroded contacts
  5. The Flush button is faulty.

To remove the pump, you have to get underneath inside the compartment – follow the water pipes – remove the pipe(s) and the pump should come down…. visually check for damage, turn the impellow using a (very) thin screwdriver and try it again.

There is a “blade” fuse (and a spare) at the rear of the toilet compartment – the contacts can corrode – clean these with WD40.

Inside the caravan – the top of the toilet has a “flush” FLUSH button (its fitted”flush” you see!). To get to the switch – use a Stanley knife and carefully prise the plastic membrane off (don’t cut it!). Try not to touch the sticky side – you will want to refit it afterwards.

Behind this membrane is a circuit board. – you may need to ease it off it’s plastic retaining clips to remove it.

The edge connector where the cable fits is prone to corrosion. In fact, the whole board is!!!! Try cleaning the edge connector by scraping and WD40.

In my case my Switch had gone faulty – I tried to find a replacement – it has to be EXACTLY the correct height – I found one close – but slightly too high… now I have a “Spare board” which works if I insert a piece of plastic under the PCB to act as a “spring” !!!!

So I had to fit a new board. Before I fitted it, I gave it a couple of coats of Spray Acrylic Lacquer to protect the board from damp in future.

Refit the board and then try to refit the membrane. If the membrane will not seat properly – either buy a new one from Ebay for around £12 or do what I did – I glued it down using Silicon Sealant!

If your “Toilet Full” LED doesn’t light – you *may* have lost your float in the soil tank (it happened to me about 30 years ago) or most likely its corrosion on the REED switch sensor board or the REED is faulty. Either remove the corrosion, or Replace the board for lots of money – but cheaper on Ebay than a dealer!

Inside compartment showing fuse holder and level sensor board
Membrane removed, showing panel underneath. Use a small screwdriver to lever this out to access/release the PCB.
The Expensive Board. If you do “Lacquer” it.. make sure you mask off the edge connectors!

If your pump has failed you can either fit a replacement Thetford pump – or fit a cheaper substitute – check the fittings first! You may as well fit a cheaper one – it doesn’t work very hard, but they do crack if they freeze up.

TIP: Every winter, I flush my toilet flush through with Car Anti-Freeze… It’s not possible to get all the water out of the system without stripping it, so why not put a liquid in there that will not freeze up? It works for me!