What is a Consumer unit
A Consumer Unit or Fuse Board is the single most important electrical device in any building.
With all the electricity channelling through it, the Consumer Unit is the device responsible for controlling the safe distribution of electricity in your home and protecting the residents from electrical failure or electrical fire.
If an electrical appliance is unstable, or your wiring is faulty, a consumer unit has the power to detect this, and turn off the affected part of the circuit. If this happens, you can often simply flick the right switch back on, after unplugging the offending appliance, because the consumer unit is designed to be user friendly and completely safe.
However, older consumer units are less effective at protecting from electrical faults, making them very dangerous.
Is your Fuse Box safe?
A fuse box only needs to be replaced if it poses a danger to your health and safety. If you’re concerned or unsure, call us to arrange for an electrician to come out and check your installation. Our call out will include a visual inspection on the spot and give you free advice on what you need to know.
The fact is, consumer units are a lot better at protecting us than their older counterparts. Not only are they designed using modern technology, but they’re subject to updated industry standards which require further protective measures.
Under the IET Wiring Regulations BS761:2018, new consumer units are required to:
Be manufactured from non-combustible material. All new electrical installations must have a metal-clad consumer unit or metal-clad casing. The purpose of this is fire safety, metal is better at containing a fire, minimising the spread of fire and removing any additional source of fuel for the fire (e.g. plastic).
Signs that you should have your Fuse Board inspected or replaced:
More than 20 years old. Consumer units become worn and ineffective with time and use, so it’s always worth checking how yours is coping.
Not fitted with an RCD / RCBO. Residual current devices are life-saving devices designed to protect against fatal electric shocks or fire. The IET regulations require most, if not all, circuits in domestic premises to be RCD protected. RCDs are specifically designed to protect people from electrical shock and are more sensitive than circuit-breakers or fuses.
You’re having major work done like an extension or full rewire. Your old fuse board might not have additional space for the extra circuits. Originally a domestic property was designed with 6 circuits which are not suitable for a modern household.
Your fuses keep blowing, tripping. If your consumer unit is tripping regularly, you should get in touch with us as you could have a serious fault with your wiring or circuitry. However, this could also indicate a problem with the consumer unit itself, and this may need resolving.
There is visible damage or deterioration on your unit. Signs of any burnt connections on casing. If the housing is broken or front blanks are missing leaving live connections exposed. Other signs like the smell of burning and sizzling noises also indicate a serious consumer unit fault.
WHAT DOES REPLACING A CONSUMER UNIT INVOLVE?
Visual inspection, this is a basic check of your house to establish the overall condition of your existing installation and identify any visible signs of damage. We check the earthing and bonding arrangements, as well as your meter tails. The aim is to make sure they comply with the relevant regulations. If they don’t or are unsafe in any way it means that remedial works will be required.
Inspection and Testing during this stage we will highlight any issues that could not be identified during a visual check and establish the urgency of any problems.
If the inspections turn up any faults that will impact the functioning of the consumer unit, these must be fixed, otherwise known as remedial works. The cost for these will vary depending on the faults found. The actual replacement, this involves removing the existing unit and replacing it with the new one. Please be advised that during this stage all the power will be off for approx. 4 hours
Finally, you’ll receive an Electrical Installation Certificate and Building Regulations Compliance Certificate as evidence the work is compliant.
ARE THERE ANY REGULATIONS I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WHEN REPLACING A CONSUMER UNIT?
Under Part P of the Electrical Safety Building Regulations (for England and Wales), the replacement of a consumer unit is notifiable work. This means that as part of providing you with an Electrical Certificate we notify the local authority building control about the work
The benefit of hiring us as a Part P-registered electricians – aside from experience and credibility – is that we can certify our work and provide you with the necessary certificate at the end of the job.
Electrical safety in your home starts with the Consumer Unit.
If you notice one or more of the signs above, it is a good idea to organise an inspection, there’s no harm in being cautious.
For more information or advice about out-dated fuse boxes, and what to do about them, get in touch with the professionals today, here at MK Wired.