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And Testing
Learner Work Book


Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Inspection and Testing REV4.1 2


Table of Contents
Foreword ........................................................................................................4

Inspection and Testing Unit Overview .........................................................5

Practical skills you will need to demonstrate....................................................... 5
Knowledge Requirements .................................................................................. 5

Purpose of Inspection and Testing ..............................................................6

Test frequency ................................................................................................... 9

Electrical test instruments ..........................................................................11

Calibration and instrument accuracy ................................................................ 11
Instrument types............................................................................................... 12
Testing your meter ........................................................................................... 14

Initial Verification .........................................................................................16

The importance of paperwork........................................................................... 17
Information needed .......................................................................................... 19
Scope of the inspection .................................................................................... 21

Initial inspection checklist ..........................................................................21

Sequence of Tests .......................................................................................42

Recording circuit details ................................................................................... 42
Recording the test results................................................................................. 42
Test sequence.................................................................................................. 44
Test 1 - Continuity of protective conductors...................................................... 45
Test 2 - Continuity of ring final circuit conductors ............................................. 49
Test 3 – Insulation Resistance ......................................................................... 53
Test 4 - Protection by electrical separation....................................................... 56
Test 5 - Polarity ................................................................................................ 58
Test 6 – Earth electrode resistance .................................................................. 60
Test 7 – Earth loop impedance (Zs) ................................................................. 62
(Inc. prospective fault current – Ipf) .................................................................. 62
Test 8 – Operation of residual current devices ................................................. 65

Periodic Inspection and Testing.................................................................69

General Requirements ..................................................................................... 69
Routine checks................................................................................................. 69
Sequence of tests ............................................................................................ 71

Unsatisfactory Test Results........................................................................73

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 3



In this unit you will learn about Inspection and testing. Inspection and testing is an
immensely important subject to grasp and is relevant to every electrical installation. It
is carried out during the erection of an installation and forms its completion.
Inspection and testing is also carried out periodically to ensure a system is still in
compliance with the latest edition of BS7671. The results of testing are documented
as proof that the installation is safe to use.

It is a legal requirement that the statutory document Electricity at Work Regulations

1989 is adhered to and that installations are safe to use and do not cause any
danger. The non-statutory documents; BS7671, the Onsite Guide and Guidance Note
3 (Inspection and Testing) are not legal requirements but by following them we are
deemed to be complying with the Electricity at Work Act.

This unit examines the requirements for inspecting and testing of an installation when
it is brand new, when additions or alterations have been made to it and when it has
been in use for some time.

This workbook is to be accompanied by PowerPoint

“Inspection and Testing”

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 4


Inspection and Testing Unit Overview

Practical skills you will need to demonstrate
To achieve the learning outcome the candidate must be able to:

Carry out an initial inspection of an installation

Select correct instruments to carry out tests
Complete the correct sequence of tests
Record the test results obtained
Carry out functional testing of an installation
Fill in recognised certificates of completion

Knowledge Requirements
To achieve the learning outcome the candidate must know:

How to carry out an initial inspection

How to correct any deviations found during inspection
How to use various test instruments
The importance of the sequence of tests
How to carry out functional testing
How to document inspection and testing
What to do if you discover unsatisfactory test results

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 5


Purpose of Inspection and Testing

Inspection and testing is not just carried out because it is someone’s job or that it is
what the client wants. It is a legal requirement in the domestic sector. In the
commercial and industrial sector it falls under the Electricity at Work Act and is
harnessed by most companies who have the legal obligation to protect their premises
and personnel.

The purpose of inspection and testing is to provide, so far as is reasonably

practicable, for:
The safety of persons and livestock against the effects of electric shock and
Protection against damage to property by fire and heat arising from an
installation defect, and
Confirmation that the installation is not damaged or deteriorated so far as to
impair safety, and
The identification of installation defects and non-compliance with the
requirements of the Regulations which may give rise to danger.

Inspection and testing is carried out:

• During and or on completion of a new installation.

• When minor works such as additions or alterations are carried out
• To satisfy the periodic inspection of a companies’ premises.
• To satisfy the requirements of Part P of the building regulations.

Building Regulations

Part P of the Building Regulations (England and Wales) was introduced by

the Government on January 1st 2005. It is designed to reduce accidents
caused by faulty electrical installations and to prevent incompetent
installers from leaving electrical installations in an unsafe condition.

Part P applies to the following situations:

Dwelling houses and flats
Dwellings and business premises that have a common supply eg shops that
have a flat above
Common access areas in blocks of flats such as corridors or staircases
Shared amenities in blocks of flats such as laundries or gyms
In or on land associated with dwellings – such as fixed lighting or pond pumps
in gardens
Outbuildings such as sheds, detached garages and greenhouses

Approved Document P is called ‘Electrical Safety’ and will be complied with if the
standard of electrical work meets the ‘Fundamental Requirements of Chapter 13 of

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 6


Section P1 of Part P states: ‘Reasonable provision shall be made in the design,

installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in order to protect persons
from fire and injury’.

In your own words describe how people are protected from fire and injury whilst using an
electrical installation.

Section P2 of Part P states: ‘Sufficient information shall be provided so that persons

wishing to operate, maintain or alter an electrical installation can do so with
reasonable safety.

In your own words describe what information relating to safety can be provided to persons
wishing to use an electrical installation.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 7


Electrician and bathroom fitter prosecuted for breach

of Part P of the building regulations
An electrician in electrician to inspect The defendant pleaded
Newcastle and a bathroom Able’s work and found that guilty to charges that
fitter from bath and the property needed a included using a method
Somerset are to be the complete rewire and tests of wiring not in accordance
first to be successfully could not be carried out for with the British Standard,
prosecuted for offences safety reasons. and failing to advise the
under Part P of the complainant that the
building regulations. Jim Speirs, director incomplete shower should
general of the NICEIC not be used and that it
Able Electrical based in said: “It is unacceptable was awaiting checking. He
Newcastle and the for an electrician with this was fined £1,000 for the
company’s director John level of experience to have Part P offence and £250
Waugh, an electrician with carried out work to such a each for the remaining
28 years experience, poor standard that lives offences of failing to give a
admitted 23 counts of are put at risk. Building Notice to Building
breaching building “A professional and Control prior to
regulations and was fined competent electrician or commencement of the
total of £16,000. installer would have no work, and failing to give
problem in becoming notice of commencement
Able Electrical carried out registered with a and completion of certain
rewiring on a property that, competent person stages of the work. The
according to Newcastle scheme, and would court also ordered the
magistrates' court, could therefore have no reason defendant to pay £1,066 in
have resulted in death or to falsify their status. The costs.
serious injury. Waugh NICEIC takes misuse of its
admitted to 23 offences name and logo seriously Jim Speirs continued: “It is
including falsely claiming and we will always vital that anyone carrying
to be registered with the prosecute any persons out electrical installations
NICEIC, failing to notify falsely claiming are qualified to do so, and
work to Building Control, registration with our have a practical
installing cables under the schemes.” understanding of current
landing floor in a poor wiring and building
manner, using old wires In a second incident, Bath regulations. These
which are no longer & North East Somerset prosecutions under Part P
covered by current Council Building Control are evidence that building
regulations and not using brought charges against control bodies and
Residual Circuit Breakers bathroom fitter Roger scheme operators are
for sockets. Martin Drinkwater for taking compliance with
contravening Building Part P seriously, and will
Newcastle Council Regulations with regard to not tolerate false claims of
Building Control brought the installation of an competent scheme
charges against Able electric shower in a registration and sub-
Electrical after the replacement bathroom at standard, dangerous
householder called in an a private property. working practices.”
NICEIC registered

Class discussion. Firstly read and then discuss the above article and consider the people
involved. Should these workmen be prosecuted? Why lie about being part of the NICEIC? Write
down the key points below.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 8


Test frequency

Initial inspection and testing is necessary on all newly completed installations. In

addition, because all electrical installations deteriorate due to a number of factors
such as damage, wear and tear, corrosion, excessive electrical loading, ageing and
environmental influences, periodic inspection and testing must be carried out at
regular intervals determined by the following:

Legislation requires that all installations must be maintained in a safe

condition and therefore must be periodically inspected and tested.
Licensing authorities, public bodies, insurance companies and other
authorities may require public inspection and testing of electrical installations.
The installation must be checked to ensure that it complies with BS 7671.
It is also recommended that inspection and testing of installations should
occur when:
There is a change of use of the premises
Any alterations or additions to the original installation
Any significant change in the electrical loading of the installation
Where there is reason to believe that damage may have been caused
to the installation.

The table below details the maximum period between inspections of various types of

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 9


Now answer the questions below

1 In you own words state the four purposes of inspection and testing

2. When and why should inspection and testing be carried out?

3. State the main aim of Part P of the building Regulations

4. Explain why installations need to be periodically re-tested

5. When is it recommended that electrical testing of installations be carried out?

6. How often should a pub be inspected and tested?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 10


Electrical test instruments

BS EN 61010 covers basic safety requirements
for electrical test instruments, and all instruments
should be checked for conformance with this
standard before use. Older instruments may have
been manufactured in accordance with BS 5458
but, provided these are in good condition and
have been recently calibrated, there is no reason
why they cannot be used. Guidance note GS38
stipulates test leads, including probes and clips,
must be in good order and have no cracked or
broken insulation. Fused test leads are
recommended to reduce the risk of arcing under
fault conditions.

Instruments may be analogue (i.e. fitted with a needle that gives a direct reading on a
fixed scale) or digital, where the instrument provides a numeric digital visual display
of the actual measurement being taken. Insulation and continuity testers can be
obtained in either format whilst earth-fault loop impedance testers and RCD testers
are digital only.

Calibration and instrument accuracy

To ensure that the reading being taken is reasonably
accurate, all instruments should have a basic
measurement accuracy of at least 5 per cent. In the
case of analogue instruments a basic accuracy of 2
per cent of full-scale deflection should ensure the
required accuracy of measured values over most of
Calibration label
the scale.

All electrical test instruments should be calibrated on a regular basis. The time
between calibrations will depend on the amount of usage that the instrument
receives, although this should not exceed 12 months in any circumstances.
Instruments have to be calibrated in laboratory conditions against standards that can
be traced back to national standards; therefore this usually means returning the
instrument to a specialist test laboratory.

On being calibrated the instrument will have a calibration label attached to it stating
the date the calibration took place and the date the next calibration is due. It will also
be issued with a calibration certificate detailing the tests that have been carried out
and a reference to the equipment used.

The user of the instrument should always check to ensure that the
instrument is within calibration before being put to use.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 11


A further adhesive label is often placed over the joint in

the instrument casing stating that the calibration is void
should the seal be broken. A broken seal will indicate
whether anyone has deliberately opened the
instrument and possibly tampered with the internal

Instruments that are subject to any electrical or mechanical misuse (e.g. if the
instrument is subject to an electrical short circuit or is dropped) should be returned for
re-calibration before being used again. Electrical test instruments are relatively
delicate and expensive items of equipment and should be handled in a careful

When not in use they should be stored in clean, dry conditions at normal room
temperature. Care should also be taken of instrument leads and probes to prevent
damage to their insulation and to maintain them in a good, safe working condition.

When using an instrument out on site, the accuracy of the instrument will
probably not be as good as the accuracy obtained under laboratory
conditions. Operating accuracy is always worse than basic accuracy and
can be affected by battery condition, generator cranking speed, ambient
temperature, instrument alignment or loss of calibration

Instrument types

Low resistance Ohmmeters

Where low resistance measurements

are required when testing earth 0.50Ω
continuity, ring circuit continuity and
polarity, then a low reading
ohmmeter is required. They are only
used on isolated circuits.

This may be a specialised low-reading ohmmeter or the continuity scale of a

combined insulation and continuity tester. Whichever type is used it is recommended
that the test current should be derived from a source of supply not less than 4 V and
no greater than 24 V with a short circuit current not less than 200 mA and give a
reading to two decimal places. Instruments manufactured to BS EN 61557 will meet
the above requirements.

Errors in the reading obtained can be introduced by contact resistance or by lead

resistance. Although the effects of contact resistance cannot be eliminated entirely
and may introduce errors of 0.01 ohm or greater, lead resistance can be eliminated
either by clipping the leads together and zeroing the instrument before use, where
this facility is provided, or alternatively measuring the resistance of the leads and
subtracting this from the reading obtained.

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Insulation resistance Ohmmeters

Insulation resistance should have a high

value and therefore insulation resistance
meters must have the ability to measure
high resistance readings (typically 200MΩ). >200MΩ
The test voltage required for measuring
insulation resistance is given in BS 7671
Table 71A as shown below.

Circuit Nominal Voltage to earth Test Minimum Insulation

Voltage dc Resistance (MΩ
Up to and including 500 v with the
500 V 1.0
exception of the above supplies
Above 500 V 1000 V
SELV = Separated extra low voltage - Not exceeding 50V A.C. or 120V Ripple Free D.C.
PELV = Protective extra-low voltage

The photograph above shows a typical modern insulation and continuity tester that
will measure both low values of resistance for use when carrying out continuity and
polarity tests and also high values of resistance when used for insulation resistance
tests. This type of instrument and test is only ever carried out on an isolated circuit

Instruments of this type are usually enclosed in a fully insulated case for safety
reasons and have a range of switches to set the instrument correctly for the type of
test being carried out i.e. continuity or insulation. The instrument also has a means of
selecting the voltage range required e.g. 250 V, 500 V, 1000 V.

Other features of this particular type of instrument are the ability to lock the
instrument in the ‘on’ position for hands-free operation and an automatic nulling
device for taking account of the resistance of the test leads.

Earth-loop impedance testers

Earth-loop impedance testers of the type

shown in the photograph have the capability 0.50Ω
to measure both earth-loop impedance and
also prospective short-circuit current,
depending on which function is selected on
the range selection switch.

The instrument also has a series of LED

warning lights to indicate whether the
polarity of the circuit under test is correct or
not. The instrument gives a direct digital read-out in Ohms of the value of the
measurement being taken at an accuracy of plus or minus 2 per cent and to two
decimal places.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 13


RCD testers

Instruments for testing residual current

devices, such as the one shown in the
photograph have two selection switches. 40mS
One switch that should be set to the rated
tripping current of the RCD (e.g. 30 mA, 100
mA etc.) and the other set to the test current
required i.e. 50 per cent or 100 per cent of
the rated tripping current or 150 mA for
testing 30 mA RCDs when being used for
supplementary protection. Half cycle tests
can be selected to ensure full protection.

All-in-one tester

A modern innovation by manufacturers is the production of an ‘all in one’ instrument

that has the ability to carry out the most common tests required by the Regulations.

These are:
Continuity tests (including polarity tests)
Insulation resistance tests
Earth-loop impedance tests
RCD tests
Measurement of prospective short circuit current.

The photograph below shows an example of this type of instrument, which by

manipulation of the function and range switches will perform, all of the above tests.

Testing your meter

In order to carry out effective testing it is not just a case of unpacking your meters
and carrying on with the tests. It is important that you regularly check your
instruments to make sure they are in good and safe working order.

Before using any of your instruments make sure that all test probes and
conductors to be tested are scrupulously clean to avoid incorrect test results
Check the leads for damage
Check the battery levels by zeroing or nulling the lead resistance
Ensure you get visual confirmation of the expected test values. (Open leads
display a high resistance value. Closed leads display a low resistance)

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 14


Now answer the questions below

1 Describe the general aim of the standard BS EN 61010.

2. Describe what is meant by instrument calibration

3. What is the recommended calibration period and how can we check if an instrument
is calibrated?

4. Name three tests we carry out with a low reading Ohmmeter and how accurate
must the meter reading be?

5. What three voltage settings are available on an insulation resistance tester?

6. There are two selector switches on an RCD tester. What are they for?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 15


Initial Verification
The following notes provide a detailed description of the procedures required to carry
out an initial inspection of an electrical installation. Substantial reference has been
made to the lEE Wiring Regulations (BS7671), the On Site Guide and lEE Guidance
Note No.3 and it is recommended that wherever possible these documents are
referred to should clarification be required.

The most important considerations prior to carrying out any inspection and test
procedure are that:

All the required information about the installation is available

The person carrying out the procedure is competent to do so
That all safety requirements have been met

Forward planning is also a major consideration and it is essential that suitable

inspection checklists have been prepared and that appropriate certification is
available for completion.

It is also important to realize that a large proportion

of any new installation will be hidden from view once
the building fabric has been completed and
therefore it is preferable to carry out a certain
amount of visual inspection throughout the
installation process: e.g. conduit, cable tray or
trunking is often installed either above the ceiling or
below the floor and once the ceiling or floor tiles
have been fitted it is difficult and often expensive to
gain access for inspection purposes. The same
applies to testing and it may be advisable to carry out Incorrectly terminated SWA
tests such as earth continuity during construction
rather than after the building has been completed.

It must be remembered however that when visual inspection and / or tests are carried
out during the construction line, the results must be recorded on the appropriate
checklists or test certificates.

It is also worth noting that although the major part of any inspection will be
visual other human senses may be employed: e.g. a piece of equipment with
moving parts may generate an usual noise if it is not working correctly or an
electrical device which overheats will be hot to touch as well as giving off a
distinctive smell. The senses of hearing touch and smell will assist in
detecting these.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 16


The importance of paperwork

When an installation is complete the persons responsible for the work must report to
the owner that it is complete and ready for service. This is presented in the form of an
electrical installation certificate that must be separately signed to verify the design,
the construction and the inspection and test aspects to confirm that the installation
complies with BS7671.

The installer should also compile an operational manual for the installation, which will
include all the relevant data, including:

A full set of circuit and schematic drawings,

All design calculations for cable sizes, cable volt drop, earth-loop impedance,
Leaflets or manufacturers' details for all the equipment installed,
As fitted' drawings of the completed work where applicable,
A full specification,
Copies of the electrical installation certificate, together with any other
commissioning records,
A schedule of dates for periodic inspection and testing,
The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the designer, the installer,
and the inspector / tester.

The certificate we will take a look at is the NICEIC’s (National Inspection

Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) domestic installer form. This
would be supplied to a client who had requested work to be done on
domestic premises

The certificate could be used in a court of law to prove the competence of the
electrical tester should anything happen at a later date. If we were to certify an
electrical installation that would later result in damage or harm to persons or property
we would require proof that we carried out a full inspection and test in accordance
with BS7671 which would satisfy the Electricity at Work Act. The legalities of our
responsibilities are that we are guilty until proven innocent. So having correct paper
work and test records could save your neck!

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 17


Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Information needed

Before carrying out the initial inspection (and

test) of an installation it is essential that the
person carrying out the work be provided with
the following information:

1. The maximum demand of the installation

expressed in amperes per line together
with details of the number and type of live
conductors both for the source of energy and for each circuit to be used within the
installation, (e.g. single-line two-wire a.c. or three line four-wire a.c. etc).

2. The general characteristics of the supply such as:

The nominal voltage (Uo)
The nature of the current ( I ) and its frequency (Hz)
The prospective short circuit current at the origin of the installation (kA)
The earth fault loop impedance (Ze) of that part of the system external to the
The type and rating of the over current device acting at the origin of the

If this information is not known it must be established either by calculation,

measurement, inquiry or inspection.

3. The type of earthing arrangement used for the installation e.g. TN-S, TN-C-S, TT

4. The type and composition of each circuit (i.e. details of each sub-circuit, what it is
feeding, the number and size of conductors and the type of wiring used).

5. The location and description of all devices installed for the purposes of protection,
isolation and switching (e.g. fuses/circuit breakers etc).

6. Details of the method selected to prevent danger from shock in the event of an
earth fault (This will invariably be protection by earthed equipotential bonding and
automatic disconnection of the supply).

7. The presence of any sensitive electronic devices which may be susceptible to

damage by the application of 500 volts d.c when carrying out insulation
resistance tests.

The above information may be gained from a variety of sources such as the
project specification, contract drawings, as fitted drawings or distribution
board schedules. If such documents are not available, then the person
ordering the testing should be approached

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Sample taken from an NICEIC certificate

The initial information will be recorded in the boxes below

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Scope of the inspection

BS 7671 states that as far as reasonably practicable, an inspection shall be carried

out to verify that:

All equipment and materials used in the installation are of the correct type and
comply with the appropriate British Standards or acceptable equivalent
All parts of the installation have been correctly selected and installed
No part of the installation is visibly damaged or otherwise defective
The installation is suitable for the surrounding environmental conditions.

Initial inspection checklist

The visual inspection shall include the checking of the following items where relevant
to the installation and where necessary, during erection of the equipment. This
means that some of the visual inspections can be carried out during erection of the
equipment and therefore need not be re-inspected.

Initial Inspection at a glance:

1. Connection of conductors 11. Presence of under – voltage
2. Identification of conductors protective devices
3. Routing of cables within mechanical 12. Choice of setting of protective
protection devices
4. Selection of conductors for current 13. Labeling of protective devices,
carrying capacity and volt drop. switches and terminals
5. Connection of single – pole devices in the 14. Selection of equipment
line conductor only appropriate to external influences
6. Correct connection of equipment 15. Adequacy of access to switchgear
7. Presence of fire barriers and suitable and equipment
seals 16. Presence of warning signs and
8. Methods of protection against electric danger notices
shock (earthing) 17. Presence of diagrams, charts,
9. Prevention of detrimental influences instructions and similar
10. Presence of appropriate devices for information
isolation and switching 18. Erection methods

Pick two different inspection checks from above and try to describe what is required

Remember, if any of the initial verification checks require you to remove covers then
you will need to carry out safe isolation, otherwise you will contravene the Electricity
at Work Act 1989. The key point with all electrical work is that you maintain yours and
everyone’s safety when carrying out such work.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


1. Connection of conductors

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are terminations electrically and mechanically sound?
• Is insulation and sheathing removed only to a minimum to allow
satisfactory termination?

Every connection between conductors or between conductors and equipment must

be electrically continuous and mechanically sound. We must also make sure that all
connections are adequately enclosed but accessible as required by the regulations.
Loose connections can lead to many dangerous events from electric shock to fire.

Note: Before attempting to re-secure any electrical accessory you must ensure
that the supply has been isolated.

Movement of the socket outlet
may dislodge circuit connections
and contact exposed conductors.
Work to this standard generally
means connections are also
loose. Can lead to arcing;
overheating; electric shock; fire.


Constant use of this main isolator
with a loose supply connection
can catch fire through arcing and


Inspection and Testing REV4.1 22


2. Identification of conductors

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are conductors correctly identified in accordance with BS7671?
• Are switch wires identified as live at both terminations?

A check should be made that each conductor is identified in accordance with the
requirements of BS7671 Table 51A and Table 51B. Although numbered sleeves or
discs may be used in special circumstances, the most common form of identification
is by means of coloured insulation or sleeving. It should be noted in particular that
only protective conductors should be identified by a combination of the colours green
and yellow.

colours of
conductors to

Old switch wire colours not
identified as live at two way switch
so could present a danger when
switch is replaced.


Inspection and Testing REV4.1 23


3. Routing of cables within mechanical protection

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are cables installed so that external influences from mechanical
damage, corrosion or heat etc have been considered?
• Are covers and lids in place to prevent unauthorised access?

Cables should be routed out of harms way and protected against mechanical
damage where necessary. Permitted cable routes are clearly defined in the 'on site
guide' or alternatively cables should be installed in earthed metal conduit or trunking.


Install cables away from
terminations and ensure they are
protected from mechanical

Unprotected single insulated
conductors may get snagged or
damaged by persons or


Single core insulated cables should only be installed where they are afforded mechanical
protection. Name five types different types of installation where they are properly protected.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 24


4. Selection of conductors for current carrying capacity and volt drop

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are conductors selected for current carrying capacity and voltage
drop in accordance with the design requirements?

Where practicable the size of cable used at the consumer unit should be checked for
current carrying capacity and voltage drop based upon information provided by the
installation designer. Incorrect ratings can lead to equipment failure and overheating
of conductors.

How can we determine that the

size of the conductor is correct
for the intended use of the

The maximum permitted voltage drop allowable from the nominal voltage is 3% for
lighting and 5% for power. This value is from the origin of the installation to the
furthest point of utilisation. At 230V that is 6.9V for lighting and 11.5V for power.

If we know the conductor size the procedure to measure voltage drop is simple.

1. For each circuit - when isolated – the L and N conductors are joined at the
furthest point and the resistance of the loop measured at the distribution board.
2. We then calculate the approximate length of the circuit.

Circuit length in metres = 29.4 x R x S

Where R = loop resistance value and S = cable cross sectional area in mm²

Example: the loop resistance of a lighting circuit, shorted out at the furthest point is
found to be 0.7Ω. If the c.s.a of the cable is 1.0 mm², what is the circuit length?

L = 29.4 x 0.7 x 1 = 20.6 metres.

The voltage drop may then be determined by reference to appendix 4 of BS 7671.

1.0 mm² is listed as dropping 44mV/a/m
Therefore if the above circuit is carrying a current when fully loaded of 5A, the
voltage drop will be:

Vd = Ib x L x mV/a/m = 5 x 20.6 x 44 = 4.53 Volts

1 000 1 000

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 25


5. Connection of single pole devices in the line conductor only

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are single pole devices and switching devices connected in the live
conductor only?
• Are there only live conductors terminated into switches and circuit

This is verification of polarity. A check must be made that all single pole devices are
connected in the line conductor only. Where neutrals are used to switch devices the
equipment or circuit remains live when the circuit is seemingly isolated.

Note: Before attempting to re-secure any electrical accessory you must ensure
that the supply has been isolated.

A fault or an overload will cause
L Load the fuse to operate but the
equipment will still remain live but
N not operational. Electric shock risk



L Load

Disconnect the neutrals from the
switch and connect the live
E conductors into the switch

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 26


6. Correct connection of equipment

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are all accessories and items of equipment correctly connected?
• Do all terminals have the correct conductors connected into them?

Accessories and equipment should be checked to ensure they have been connected
correctly including correct polarity. Incorrect connection of equipment can lead to
damage to the equipment or fire.


Isolate circuit and re-wire
strappers with a three core and
earth and re-connect the switch


Disconnect and re-connect socket
conductors into the correct

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 27


7. Presence of fire barriers and suitable seals

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are fire barriers present where required and protection against
thermal effects provided?
• Where cables pass through walls and floors are the access holes
• Are correct termination methods used for cable entries?
• Where there is a danger of overheating conductors have they been
protected by heat resistance sleeving or barriers?

A check must be made (preferably during construction) that fire barriers, suitable
seals and/or other means of protection against thermal effects have been provided
as necessary to meet the requirements of the regulations.

Suitable fire barriers need to be installed where cables pass through floors and walls.
Due to there being an entry to pass the cable through it would provide a path for fire
to travel through. Expanding foam or transient blocks are the main form of seal used.

Where conduit, trunking or ducting does not exceed an internal csa of 710mm² it
need not be sealed internally as it passes through walls and floors. Where this
dimension is exceeded it needs to be sealed against the spread of fire.

An electrical fire within this
trunking would escape through the
open cable entries. Also carries an
electric shock risk.



Disconnect and circuit conductors.
Remove conduit and re-terminate
using a 25 to 20mm reducer.
Reconnect the conductors.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 28


8. Methods of protection against electric shock

Questions to ask ourselves:

• What methods have been used to provide basic and fault
• Are all live parts correctly protected from contact of persons or
• Are all barriers in place so contact with live parts is not possible?
• Are all points of earth termination on accessories and equipment
connected to earth?
• Have all exposed conductive parts been connected to earth?
• Have all extraneous conductive parts been connected to earth?

A check must be made that the requirements of the regulations have been met for
the method of protection used. Failure to comply with BS7671 could result in an
electric shock.

Basic Protection
BS7671 defines it as:
“Protection from electric shock under fault free conditions.”

Basic protection is protecting from touching parts that are live under normal use. This
generally corresponds to contact of persons or livestock with live parts. The
unfortunate being receives maximum shock voltage. We are granted basic protection

Although protection by insulation is the usual method of protection against
direct contact other methods can be used. However, where insulation should
be present it should be checked to ensure that no live conductors have been
left exposed.
Barriers / Enclosures
Where live parts are protected by barriers or enclosures (e.g. bare bus-bars
enclosed in a metal bus-bar chamber) they should be checked to ensure that
all covers have been fitted and all fixing devices are secure.
Protection by obstacles provides protection only against unintentional contact
with live conductors. If this method is used the area should be accessible only
to skilled persons or persons under supervision.
Out of reach
Placing live parts out of reach can also provide protection against direct
contact although increased distances may be necessary where long or bulky
conducting objects are likely to be handled in the vicinity.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 29



Isolate CU. Remove supply
busbar. Replace with correct
model and ensure it is shrouded

Access to live parts via poorly
fitting terminal shroud. Electric


Fault protection

BS7671 defines it as:

“Protection against electric shock under single fault conditions”

Methods of fault protection are given in BS7671 as:

Automatic disconnection of supply.

Use of class II equipment.
Non-conducting location.
Earth-free local equipotential bonding
Electrical separation.

Where persons or livestock come into contact with an exposed conductive part that
has become live under fault conditions they should be protected by the part being
earthed. Examples of exposed conductive parts include metal trunking, metal conduit
or exposed metal parts of an appliance such as an electric kettle. Should the
insulation of any of the live parts within the kettle become defective then the metal
casing may become live and anyone touching the kettle would be at risk of receiving
a dangerous electric shock.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 30


The most commonly used method of fault protection is automatic disconnection of

the supply (ADS) and it these requirements that should be checked at the initial
inspection stage.

Earthing arrangements; earthing conductors; main protective bonding conductors;

circuit protective conductors and supplementary bonding conductors should all be
checked to ensure that they have been correctly installed and are of the correct size
and are correctly labelled.


Remove brass light switch and
replace with a plastic one or use
the earth terminal point on the
switch cover

Protection against both basic and fault protection

Separated extra low voltage (SELV) is the most common method of providing
protection against both. Requirements for this type of system include:

An isolated source of supply - e.g. a safety-isolating transformer to BS3535.

Also numbered BS EN 60742.
Electrical separation, which means no electrical connection between the
SELV circuit and higher voltage systems.
No connection with earth or the exposed conductive parts

There must be no connection to earth and precautions must he taken to ensure, as

far as possible, that earth faults will not occur. Such precautions would include the
use of flexible cords without metallic sheaths, using double insulation, making sure
that flexible cords are visible throughout their length of run, and so on. Perhaps the
most common example of a separated circuit is the bathroom transformer unit
feeding an electric shaver. By breaking the link to the earthed supply system using
the double wound transformer, there is no path to earth for shock current.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 31


9. Prevention of detrimental influences

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are wiring systems installed such that they can have no harmful
effect on non-electrical systems?
• Are systems of different voltages are segregated where necessary?

Account must be taken of the proximity of other electrical services of a different

voltage band and of non-electrical services and influences. E.g. fire alarm and
emergency lighting circuits must be separated from other cables and from each other
and category 1 and category 2 circuits must not be present in the same enclosure or
wiring system unless they are either segregated or wired with cable insulation
suitable for the highest voltage present. This is due to the magnetic influence low
voltage circuits can have on extra low voltage circuits. This can appear as false
signals or “noise” on telephone lines for example.

Voltage Bands / Circuit Categories

Category 1
Circuits operating at low voltages (50 to 600 volts AC) and supplied from the
electrical mains.
Category 2
Any data, telecommunication, intruder alarm systems and circuits operating at
extra low voltage. (not exceeding 50 volts AC and 120 volts DC)
Category 3
Any fire detection system, emergency lighting or alarm

Circuit with different categories
are in close proximity which can
lead to interference or false


Circuits with different categories
are in close proximity which can
lead to interference or false


Inspection and Testing REV4.1 32


10. Presence of appropriate devices for isolation and switching

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are there appropriate devices for isolations and switching correctly
located and installed?
• Are there suitable means for isolating circuits and equipment?

BS7671 requires, that effective means suitably positioned and ready to

operate shall be provided so that all voltage may be cut off from every
installation, every circuit within the installation and from all equipment, as
may be necessary to prevent or remove danger.

This means that switches and/or isolating devices

of the correct rating must be installed as
appropriate to meet the above requirements. It
may be advisable, where feasible, to carry out an
isolation exercise to check that effective isolation
can be achieved. This should include switching
off, locking-off and testing to verify that the circuit
is dead and no other source of supply is present.

11. Presence of under voltage protective devices

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Where under voltage may give rise for concern are there protective
devices present?
• Are there contactor control circuits with manual starting where

Suitable precautions must be taken where a loss (no volt) or lowering of voltage and
subsequent restoration of voltage could cause danger. The most common situation
would be where a motor driven machine stops due to a loss of voltage and
unexpectedly re-starts when the voltage is restored. Precautions such as the
installation of a motor starter containing a contactor must be employed. To overcome
the dangers a control circuit is employed and the use of a manual stop and start
station that requires a manual input to reset the circuit once it has failed.

State one example of where automatic re-energisation may cause danger to persons or
property and explain the possible consequences.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 33


12. Choice of setting of protective devices

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are protective and monitoring devices correctly chosen and set to
ensure protection against overload and faults?

Protective devices are employed in a circuit to detect over current and fault current.
Their sole purpose is to disconnect should their rating be exceeded. If a device is
installed that is of insufficient rating this may lead to conductors and / or equipment
over heating and resulting in damage to the circuit.

Radial circuits incorrectly added
to 32A MCB. Overloaded
conductors and subsequent
damage to insulation and
equipment. Electrical fire


13. Labelling of protective devices, switches and terminals

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are all protective devices, switches (where necessary) and terminals
correctly labelled?
• Do devices and accessories display their source or supply and duty
so we know where and what we are isolating?

A check should be carried out to ensure that labels and warning notices as required
by B7671 have been fitted e.g. labelling of circuits, MCBs, RCDs fuses and isolating
devices with their circuit designation. Periodic inspection notices advising of the
recommended date of the next inspection and warning notices referring earthing and
bonding connections.

The connection of the bonding wires to the pipes has to be made with a proper clamp
to BS 951 complete with the label

Consider a domestic dwelling. What identification would you expect to see above the
protective devices in the consumer unit? Give three different examples

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 34


What information can we place on isolators, sockets and light switches in commercial

Keeping circuits in order

What BS7671 says:

Regulations 314-1 (i) and (ii) state that every installation shall be divided
into circuits to avoid danger and minimise inconvenience and to facilitate
safe operation, inspection, testing and maintenance.

Regulation 514-1-2 “states as far as reasonably practicable, wiring shall be

arranged or marked that it can be identified for inspection, testing, repair or
alteration of the installation.”

One way this can be achieved is to correctly terminate the conductors in sequence
so that mistakes cannot be made when an attempt to identify a circuits’ conductors.

Each protective device in a consumer unit is classified as a “way”. For example, there
might be 6 ways in one consumer unit and a number in a sequence (usually from the
main isolator). The neutral and earth bars in this consumer unit will also be numbered
in sequence. If a lighting circuit is supplied from way 3 the neutral and earth
conductors should also be connected into way 3 on the neutral and earth bars. If the
conductors are not connected in sequence this can cause confusion for the test

What dangers might be associated with disconnecting a circuit from a consumer unit?

We can usually identify a circuit by tracing the individual conductors from each
terminal to the point in the cable where the sheath is stripped to. If single core cable
is used they might be wired into a conduit. However, conduit is often used for more
than one circuit making identification even more difficult. Ideally the installer would
apply identification on each conductor therefore making the process of removing a
circuit a lot easier.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 35


Class activity
Read the evidence thoroughly then work through the initial numbered inspection
requirements. Then use the circuit chart below to complete the task.

We are required to inspect and test a six-way MCB consumer unit.

• Contained within it are four MCBs rated at 6A, 16A, 32A and a 45A (all type B) in
sequence from left to right.
• The main switch is on the right hand side of the consumer unit.
• There is a circuit chart present that displays the information from left to right;
Lighting; Immersion heater; Ring main; Shower.
• Connected into the 45A MCB is one 10mm² flat twin and earth.
• There is also a 25mm conduit carrying 9 x 2.5mm² stranded conductors, three
browns, three blues and three green / yellows. Two of the browns connect into
the 32A MCB.
• A brown 1.5mm² solid conductor connects into the 6 amp MCB and we trace that
to a flat pvc/pvc cable.
• The neutrals and earths do not correspond with the way numbers allocated to the
protective devices

Circuit Chart 2.1.3.L1

Live CPC
Way Description Rating Type
mm² mm²

1. Record the way numbers of the circuits and record their description of load and
rating i.e. Way 1 - Lift Motor- 20 A Type B
2. Record all of the live and circuit protective conductor sizes connected
3. How would you identify the neutrals and earths of each of the circuits and put
them in the correct sequence?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 36


14. Selection of equipment appropriate to external influences

Questions to ask ourselves:
• Have all items of equipment and protective measures been selected in
accordance with the appropriate external influences?

All equipment must be selected as suitable for the environment in which it is likely to
operate. Items to be considered are taken from Chapter 52 of BS7671:

Ambient temperature:
A wiring system and its components shall be selected so as to
be suitable for the highest and lowest ambient temperature.

Presence of external heat sources:

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so as to avoid harm from heat sources
such as the sun or hot pipe work. This shall be achieved by shielding; selecting a
system suitable for such conditions; placing sufficiently away from the heat source.

Presence of water and subsequent corrosion:

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so that no
damage will be caused by condensation or moisture. This may
be overcome by selecting accessories using the IP chart.

Ingress of foreign bodies:

A wiring system shall be selected and erected to minimize the ingress of dust and
other matter. This may be overcome by selecting accessories using the IP chart
shown in the Tables from BS7671 and the On Site Guide or on the next page.

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so as to minimise mechanical damage
from impact, abrasion, penetration, compression or tension. This shall be afforded by
the mechanical characteristics of the wiring system or the use of extra mechanical

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so as to be suitable to withstand the
effects of vibration. This shall be afforded by using secure fixings suitable for the

Flora and Fauna:

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so suitable to withstand the effects of
flora (mould growth) and fauna (insects, birds and small animals) This shall be
afforded by using shielding or equipment suitable for the environment.

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so suitable to
withstand the effects of radiation from the sun and ultraviolet rays.
Using shielding or equipment suitable for the environment shall
afford this.

Building use and structure:

A wiring system shall be selected and erected so as to be suitable to withstand the
effects of building stresses or movement. This shall be afforded by using secure
fixings suitable for the situation so that no stress is put onto the wiring system.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 37


15. Adequacy of access to switchgear and equipment

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are all means of access to switchgear and equipment adequate?

BS7671 requires that every piece of equipment that requires operation or attention
must be installed so that adequate and safe means of access and working space are

Why is adequate access important with regard to switch gear and equipment?


Create a cut in the ceiling to allow
removal of consumer unit cover or
lower the entire trunking and
consumer unit installation

16. Presence of warning signs and danger notices

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are danger notices and warning signs present where required?

A check should be carried out to ensure that warning

notices as required by BS7671 have been fitted e.g.
labelling of circuits, MCBs, RCDs fuses and isolating
devices of the voltages present within enclosures.
Notices displaying that only authorised personnel may
enter switch rooms and open enclosures etc.

State three places where you think a warning sign might need to be placed

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 38


17. Presence of diagrams, charts, instructions and similar information

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Are diagrams, instructions and similar information relating to the
installation available?

All distribution boards should be provided with a distribution board schedule that
provides information regarding types of circuits, number and size of conductors, type
of wiring etc. This should be attached within or adjacent to each distribution board.

No chart or identification is
present. Isolating a specific circuit
for testing and inspection or
maintenance is not an easy task.
Unintentional isolation of supplies.


By displaying a circuit chart, usually mounted inside the door, it would display
information about the circuit such as:

• The consumer unit designation • Circuit description

• Zs at the consumer unit • Type of wiring
• Where this consumer unit is supplied • Over current protection type and rating
from and the size of its protective • Circuit cable sizes
device/s. • Number of points served
• Size of the supply cable
• Way reference for each final circuit

Other information might relate to the operation of specific equipment. An

operator in a factory may benefit from the information supplied to minimise
danger, confusion and delay.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 39


18. Erection methods

Questions to ask ourselves:

• Have all wiring systems, accessories and equipment been selected
and installed in accordance with the requirements of BS7671, and are
fixings for equipment adequate for the environment?

Correct methods of installation should be checked, in particular fixings of switchgear,

cables, conduit etc, which must be adequate and suitable for the environment.


Assuming there is enough slack
on the cable ensure the sheath
enters the enclosure and secure it
in place so it will not fall out.

Chapter 52 of BS7671 deals with the selection and erection of wiring

systems. Below are the main points.

• Non-sheathed cables to be enclosed in conduit, ducting or

• Prevention of damage by condensation or water ingress, and
drainage points if necessary.
• Ingress of solid foreign bodies to be minimised.
• Wiring systems to be selected and erected to minimise
mechanical damage.
• Wiring systems buried in floors to be sufficiently protected
against damage.
• Cables under floors or above ceilings and cables concealed within
walls or partitions should be no less than the 50mm minimum
requirement from the surface.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 40


Now answer the questions below

1 List seven items of information needed prior to commencing an initial verification

2. Give a brief description of the scope of an initial verification

3. What are the main objectives when inspecting the connection of conductors?

4. Why is it important to ensure single pole devices are only connected in the live

5. Where do fire barriers need to be installed in an electrical installation?

6. How are we granted basic and fault protection from electric shock?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 41


Sequence of Tests
Testing can be hazardous, both to the tester and to others who are
within the area of the installation during the test. The danger is
compounded if tests are not carried out in the correct sequence.

Some tests require the supply to be on. Some tests will prove the
operation of the circuit. The person designated to do the testing
carries a huge responsibility to verify that the circuits will not cause
danger to property, persons or livestock therefore BS7671 states
the order we should carry out the tests.

For example, it is of great importance that the continuity of protective conductors is

confirmed before the insulation resistance test is carried out. A continuity test
confirms the circuit under test is correctly identified whilst the high voltage used for
insulation testing could appear on a circuit still being installed and could result in an
electrician receiving an electric shock whilst up a ladder.

Again, an earth-fault loop impedance test cannot be conducted before an installation

is connected to the supply, and the danger associated with such a test before
verifying polarity or insulation resistance will be obvious.

What BS 7671 says

• Regulation 711-01-01 states ‘Every installation shall, during

erection and/or on completion before being put into service, be
inspected and tested to verify, so far as is reasonably practicable,
that the requirements of the Regulations have been met.
Precautions shall be taken to avoid danger to persons, livestock,
and to avoid damage to property and installed equipment during
inspection and testing’

• Regulation 713 lists the sequence in which tests should be carried

out. If any test indicates a failure to comply, that test and any
preceding test, the results of which may have been influenced by
the fault indicated, must be repeated after the fault has being

Recording circuit details

To aid the testing process a record must be made first of the final circuits. See the
left half of the certificate part on the next page for the information that is needed prior
to commencing testing. Recording these details logs on a document the installation
and can this can then be used as a reference of “as installed” circuits.

Recording the test results

Not every reading we take needs to be recorded but there are specific ones that do.
See the right half of the certificate part on the next page for the information that is
needed to document the testing. Recording these results is written proof that the
installation has been tested in accordance with BS7671.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 42


Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test sequence

Having carried out the initial inspection, the following items where relevant, must be
tested in the same sequence as stated in BS7671 and shown below.

Some tests will be carried out before the supply is connected, whilst others cannot be
performed until the installation is energised. The list below shows the correct
sequence of testing to reduce the possibility of accidents to the minimum.

With the supply isolated:
Test Sequence at a glance:

With the supply energized:

1. Continuity of protective conductors, 9. Earth fault loop impedance

including main and supplementary 10. Prospective fault current
equipotential bonding 11. *Earth electrode resistance
2. Continuity of ring final circuit 12. Operation of residual current
conductors devices
3. Insulation resistance
4. **Insulation of site built assemblies
5. Protection by electrical separation
6. **Protection by barriers or enclosures * Using an earth loop tester only
provided during erection ** Specialist testing and will not
7. **Insulation of non-conducting floor be discussed in this unit
and walls
8. Polarity

Consider that the insulation resistance test failed on a ring main. Explain what would be
the dangers of carrying on with the testing sequence.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 1 - Continuity of protective conductors

(Including main and supplementary protective bonding)

Why do we do this test?

All protective and bonding conductors must be tested to ensure that they are
electrically safe and correctly connected.

Regulations state that every protective conductor, including each bonding conductor,
shall be tested to verify that it is electrically sound and correctly connected.

The test method 1 described below checks the continuity of the protective
conductor and will also measure R1 + R2 which, when corrected for temperature,
will enable the designer to verify the calculated earth fault loop impedance Zs.
Testing the operation of switching circuits during this test will also confirms
polarity which is that live conductors are connected correctly.

How do we do this test?

There are two methods for completing this test (Method 1 and Method 2) but only
one of them is necessary. For this test you need a low reading ohmmeter

Method 1
Before carrying out this test the leads should
be ‘nulled out’. If the test instrument does not
have this facility, the resistance of the leads
should be measured and deducted from the
readings. The live conductor and the
protective conductor are linked together at the
consumer unit or distribution board. The
ohmmeter is used to test between the live and Earth Continuity - Method 1
earth terminals at each outlet in the circuit.
The measurement at the circuit’s extremity should be recorded and is the value of R1
+ R2 for the circuit under test. On a lighting circuit the value of R1 should include the
switch wire at the luminaires. This method should be carried out before any
supplementary bonds are made. Operate switches to confirm polarity and see that
they affect the reading.

Method 2
One lead of the continuity tester is connected to the
consumer’s main earth terminal. The other lead is
connected to a “wandering” lead, which is used to
make contact with protective conductors at light
fittings, switches, spur outlets etc. The resistance of
the test leads will be included in the result; therefore
the resistance of the test leads must be measured
and subtracted from the reading obtained if the Earth Continuity - Method 2
instrument does not have a nulling facility. In this
method the protective conductor only is tested and this reading R2 is recorded on the
installation schedule.

This method is also used to test the main and supplementary protective bonding
conductors. The ohmmeter leads are connected between the points being tested,
between simultaneously accessible extraneous conductive parts i.e. pipe work, sinks
etc. or between simultaneously accessible extraneous conductive parts and exposed
conductive parts (metal parts of the installation).

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 45


Picture the test 7. Operate

Method 1 – Continuity of CPC, R1+R2 and Polarity switch with
5. Place meter connected to
across live and confirm
earth at each polarity

3. Light
switch on

2. Live (R1)
and earth (R2)

6. Take readings and

record the highest

4. Zero lead
1. Isolate supply resistance and
set to Ω
Inspection and Testing REV4.1

Picture the test

Method 2 – Continuity of CPC (R2)

4. Take
readings at
each earth
point and
record the
highest value

3. Zero lead
1. Isolate resistance and
main set to Ω

2. Connect “wandering” lead to the earth bar

and one meter lead

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Picture the test 1. Isolate

2. Disconnect bonding Continuity of Main Protective Bonding Conductors main
conductors from main supply
earth terminal

5. Take
less than
0.05 Ω
4. Place one lead on
conductor and
other on the clamp
connection (Use
wandering lead if 3. Zero lead
necessary) resistance and
set to Ω

Class Discussion: Mike is obtaining values which seem too high than the expected values. What could explain higher than expected
readings whilst carrying out earth continuity tests? Record the key points below.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 2 - Continuity of ring final circuit conductors

Why do we do this test?

A test is required to verify the continuity of
each conductor including the circuit
protective conductor (cpc) of every ring final
circuit. The test results should establish that
the ring is complete and has no
interconnections. The test will also establish
that the ring is not broken and that the
polarity is correct.
Incorrectly wired ring main
How do we do this test?
There are three steps for completing this test (Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3).
For this test you need a low reading ohmmeter.

1. Step 1 - End to End

The live, neutral and protective conductors are
identified and their resistances are measured
separately. A finite reading confirms that there is
no open circuit on the ring conductors under test.

The resistance values obtained should be the

same (within 0.05 ohms) if the conductors are the
same size. If the protective conductor has a
Step 1 – End to End
reduced csa, the resistance of the protective loop
will be proportionally higher (typically 1.67 x
higher) than that of the live or neutral loop. If these relationships are not achieved
then either the conductors are incorrectly identified or there is a loose connection at
one of the accessories.

2. Step 2 – Live and neutral cross coupled

The live and neutral conductors are then
connected together so that the outgoing live
conductor is connected to the returning neutral
conductor and vice versa. The resistance
between live and neutral conductors is then
measured at the db and then at each socket
outlet. The readings obtained from those
sockets wired into the ring will be substantially Step 2 – Live and neutral cross coupled
the same and the value will be approximately
half the resistance of the live or the neutral loop
resistance. Any sockets wired as spurs will have a proportionally higher resistance
value corresponding to the length of the spur cable.

3. Step 3 – Live and earth cross coupled

Step 2 is then repeated but with the live and cpc
cross-connected. The resistance between live
and earth is then measured at each socket. The
highest value recorded represents the maximum
R1 + R2 of the circuit and is recorded on the
test schedule.

Step 3 – Live and earth cross coupled

Inspection and Testing REV4.1

Picture the test

Continuity of Ring Final Circuit Conductors
Step 1 – End to End

2. Disconnect
4. Place meter on
ring conductors
one loop of the
to be tested
ring (L, N or E)

3. Zero lead
resistance and
set to Ω
6. Repeat test
for each loop

5. Take
and record

1. Isolate supply

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


5. Place other meter

4. Place one Picture the test lead on incoming live
meter lead on Continuity of Ring Final Circuit Conductors
Step 2 – Live to Neutral Cross Coupled leg and outgoing
outgoing live leg
neutral leg
and incoming
neutral leg

3. Zero lead
resistance and
set to Ω
7. Test live and
neutral at each
socket. Each
value should be
2. Ring conductors
the same
still disconnected
from Step 1 6. Take

1. Isolate

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


6. Take reading and 5. Place other meter

record (R1+R2) Picture the test lead on incoming live
Continuity of Ring Final Circuit Conductors leg and outgoing earth
Step 3 – Live to Earth Cross Coupled
4. Place one
meter lead on
outgoing live
leg and 7. Test live and
incoming earth at each
earth leg socket. Each
value should be
the same
2. Ring conductors
still disconnected
from step 2 3. Zero lead
resistance and
set to Ω

1. Isolate

Class Discussion: John ponders his test results after carrying out the three ring continuity tests. How will the readings be affected when tests
are taken at all sockets on a circuit that is wired with unintentional spurs or interconnections? How can the circuit be corrected?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 3 – Insulation Resistance

Why do we do this test?

Insulation resistance tests are to verify, for compliance with BS 7671, that the
insulation of conductors, electrical accessories and equipment is satisfactory and that
electrical conductors and protective conductors are not short-circuited, or do not
show a low insulation resistance (which would indicate defective insulation). In other
words, we are testing to see whether the insulation of a conductor is so poor as to
allow any conductor to ‘leak’ to earth or to another conductor.

How do we do this test?

There are two main methods for testing IR

1. Testing between individual circuits and their conductors
2. Testing between multiple circuits and their conductors

We will be looking at testing individual circuits and their conductors but an

appreciation of testing multiple circuits will be given in the power point.

The test equipment to be used would be

an insulation resistance tester meeting the
criteria as laid down in BS 7671 using the
appropriate d.c. test voltage as specified in
Table 61A. Before testing ensure that:
Pilot or indicator lamps and
capacitors are disconnected from
circuits to avoid an inaccurate test
value being obtained.
Voltage sensitive electronic Insulation resistance test on a lighting circuit
equipment such as dimmer
switches, electronic starters for fluorescent lamps, emergency lighting, RCDs
etc. are disconnected so that they are not subjected to the test voltage.
There is no electrical connection between any live and neutral conductor (e.g.
lamps left in)

To illustrate why we remove lamps, consider the

diagram here. The coil that is the lamp filament is
effectively creating a short circuit between the live
and neutral conductors. Besides this the lamp is
only designed to operate with 230 volts and would
be damaged if subjected to 500 volts. Test voltage applied to lamp filament

As mentioned above we can test multiple circuits at once but some electricians
prefer, or find it quicker, to test between individual circuits and their conductors. On
lighting circuits where two way / intermediate circuits are used tests have to be
repeated with switches in the opposite position so that all strappers are tested.

An insulation resistance value of not less than 1.0 megohms complies with BS7671.
Where an insulation resistance value of less than 2 megohms is recorded, the
possibility of a latent defect exists. If this is the case further investigation is required
to uncover the source of the non-compliant reading.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Picture the test

Insulation Resistance between Individual Circuit Live Conductor and Neutral
3. Ensure all loads are 8. Operate two
removed and switches are on way /
5. Place one meter intermediate
lead on neutral bar switches and
repeat test

6. Place other meter

lead on live on the
load side of the
1. Isolate
main supply

2. Isolate
final circuit

4. Set to MΩ
7. Take (500V)
reading and
Inspection and Testing REV4.1

Picture the test

Insulation Resistance between Individual Circuit Live Conductor and Earth
8. Operate two
3. Ensure all loads are way /
5. Place one meter removed and switches are on intermediate
lead on the earth switches and
bar repeat test

1. Isolate 6. Place other meter

main supply lead on live on the
load side of the
7. Take
reading and
2. Isolate
9. Repeat test final circuit
across neutral supply
to earth and 4. Set to MΩ

Class Discussion: Lance has been given the task of testing some existing circuits on a db. It is discovered that several readings are
between 0 and 2 megohms. What can possibly cause these non-compliant readings? Lance is not fully confident with his testing knowledge.
Discuss the entire scope of this event and list the key points below.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 4 - Protection by electrical separation

Why do we do this test?

This test is an insulation test across separate circuits in the installation. A fault may
be present whereby two lives from two different circuits could be damaged and be in
contact with each other. Energising one circuit would energise both circuits. The test
would confirm whether there is a low insulation resistance between two or more
conductors from different circuits.

How do we do this test?

The test should be made between all conductors in the installation to ensure that at
no point in that installation are there any problems that would cause danger. We
therefore test between all lives, lives to neutral, lives to earth and neutrals to earth of
each and every circuit. The entire test can be completed at the circuit’s supply.

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Tests shown between four circuits’ lives Tests shown between four circuits’ lives
and one earth

As you can imagine this entails a lot of testing.

How might this test be completed in a quicker time? Are there any methods we
can use to ensure all conductors are tested but in less time than testing them
individually? Use the space below for your diagrams.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Picture the test

Protection by Electrical Separation (Insulation Resistance) between Individual Circuit Live Conductors
2. Ensure all loads are
5. Place one meter 8. Operate two way /
removed and switches are on
lead on one circuit intermediate switches
live and repeat test

9. Repeat test on each

and every other circuit
3. Disconnect all
and their conductors
final circuit

6. Place other meters

lead on another
circuit’s live

1. Isolate 4. Set to MΩ
main supply 7. Take (500V)

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 5 - Polarity

Why do we do this test?

The purpose of the test is to confirm that all protective devices (such as fuses and
circuit breakers) and single-pole switches are connected to the line conductor and
that the line terminal in socket outlets and the centre contact of screw-type lamp
holders are also connected to the live conductor. (Also a check should be made to
ensure that the polarity of the incoming supply is correct, otherwise the whole
installation would have the wrong polarity).

How do we do this test?

In essence, having established the continuity of the cpc using method 1 in an earlier
test we should have operated light switches and observed their affect on the
continuity readings. This means we have already carried out this test.

For ring circuits, if the tests required by Steps 2 and 3 (ring circuit
continuity) have been carried out, the correct connections of live, neutral
and cpc conductors will have already been verified and no further testing is

For radial circuits the R1 + R2 and R1 + Rn measurements should also be made at

each point, using this method.

To carry out this test (if we forgot to do it)

temporarily link out the circuit live and earth
conductor at the distribution board and then
make our test across the live and earth terminals
at each item in the circuit under test. Remember
to operate lighting switches before during out the

The diagram on the right shows the test for

polarity of an Edison Screw lighting circuit.

Polarity test of Edison screw lamp


Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Picture the test

Polarity, Continuity of CPC and R1+R2
5. Place meter 7. Operate
across live and switch with
earth at each meter
accessory connected to
3. Light
switch on

6. Take
2. Live (R1) and readings and
earth (R2) linked confirm

1. Isolate 4. Zero lead

supply resistance and
set to Ω

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 6 – Earth electrode resistance

Why do we do this test?

Where the earthing system incorporates an earth electrode as part of the system
(such as TT sysytems), the electrode resistance to earth needs to be measured.

Some of the types of accepted earth

electrode are:
• Earth rods or pipes
• Earth tapes or wires
• Earth plates
• Underground structural metalwork
embedded in foundations
• Lead sheaths or other metallic
coverings of cables
• Metal pipes

The resistance to earth depends upon the size and type of electrode used and we
want as good a connection to earth as possible. The connection to the electrode
must be made above ground level via an inspection pit like the one showed above.

We should carry out the test during dry periods as moisture in the
ground will not provide the “worst case” test result. Typical values
should be around 100-200 ohms

How do we do this test?

We measure earth electrode resistances to earth using an earth electrode resistance
tester that consists of three test leads and two test spikes. Before this test is
undertaken, the earthing conductor to the earth electrode must be disconnected
either at the electrode or at the main earthing terminal. This will ensure that all the
test current passes through the earth electrode alone and not via parallel paths.
However, as this will leave the installation unprotected against earth faults, switch off
the supply before disconnecting the earth.

The test requires that we drive two temporary test spikes into the ground by the
electrode. They are:
A current spike at a distance away approximately 10x the length of the rod
under test (20m for a 2m rod)
A potential spike approximately midway between the current spike and the

We then take three readings.

1. Once the spikes are in place as above we take the first reading
2. We then move the potential spike 10% towards the electrode under test and
take another reading
3. And a final reading 10% away from the initial middle spike location

We then take an average of these three readings to obtain the electrode resistance.
As long as the average reading does not deviate from any of the three readings by
more than 5% this can be accepted as the electrode resistance value. If they do
deviate by more than 5% then the current spike must be moved a greater distance
and then re-tests must be carried out.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


1. Isolate 9. Take an average

main Picture the test of the three
Earth Electrode Resistance
supply readings ensuring
no deviation of
8. Move potential 7. Move potential more than 5%
spike 10% away spike 10% towards exists from any
from the electrode the electrode and reading
and take 3rd test take 2nd test

6. Take the 1st


2. Disconnect
the main
from the

5. Attach the
3. Drive the current 4. Drive the potential electrode lead
spike in a distance of spike in half the
10x the electrode distance between the
length away from the electrode and current
electrode spike
Inspection and Testing REV4.1

Test 7 – Earth loop impedance (Zs)

(Inc. prospective fault current – Ipf)

Why do we do this test?

When designing an installation, it is the designer’s responsibility to ensure that,
should a live-to-earth fault develop, the protection device will operate safely and
within the time specified by BS 7671. Although the designer can calculate this in
theory, it is not until the installation is complete and live that the calculations can be
checked. It is necessary therefore to determine the earth-fault loop impedance (Zs) at
the furthest point in each circuit and to compare the readings obtained with either the
designer’s calculated values or the values tabulated in BS 7671 or the IEE On-Site

How do we do this test?

With an earth fault loop impedance tester the value of
earth-fault loop impedance (Zs) may be determined
1. Direct measurement of Zs at the furthest point in
the circuit
2. Direct measurement of Ze** at the origin of the
circuit and adding to this the value of R1 + R2 Diagram of Zs = Ze + (R1 + R2)
measured during continuity tests
3. Obtaining the value of Ze from the electricity supplier and adding to this the value
of R1 + R2 as above.

**Ze is the loop impedance value external to the source of the circuit’s supply.

Direct measurement of Zs
Direct measurement of earth-fault loop impedance is achieved by use of an earth
fault loop impedance tester, which is an instrument designed specifically for this
purpose. The instrument operates from the mains supply and therefore can only be
used on a live installation so great care must be taken. Earth-fault loop impedance
testers are connected directly to the furthest point of the circuit. It must be noted
that parallel paths may be present which will affect the true circuit’s earth loop
impedance reading.

Measurement of Ze
The value of Ze can be measured using an earth fault loop impedance tester at the
origin of the installation. The instrument is connected using approved leads between
the live terminal of the supply and the means of earthing with the main switch open or
with all sub-circuits isolated. In order to remove the possibility of parallel paths, the
means of earthing must be disconnected from the main protective bonding
conductors for the duration of the test.

Measurement of prospective fault current - Ipf (PFC and PSC)

This test is made with an earth fault loop impedance tester set to amps. The
prospective fault current, which is how much current will flow in the event of a fault, is
divided into two parts: prospective earth fault current (live to earth fault); and
prospective short circuit current (fault between live conductors). The PFC test is
measured at the furthest point or can be calculated using the Zs value. The PSC test
is made at the origin of the installation and its value, obtained in kA, is then
compared to the fault current ratings of the protective devices. PFC and PSC tests
are actually both carried out at the relevant point and the higher of the two values is
recorded in the particulars of the origin of the installation.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Picture the test

Earth Loop Impedance (Zs) on a Ring Final Circuit
6. Verify
3. Place meter in results by
furthest part of ring one of the
(mid-point) approved

2. Circuit breaker 5. Take

on readings
and record

4. Set to Ω and
1. Main ensure display
isolator on confirms correct
Live Circuit Test polarity

The instrument is usually fitted with a standard 13 A plug for connecting to the installation directly through a normal socket outlet,
although test leads and probes are also provided for taking measurements at other points on the installation
Inspection and Testing REV4.1

Verification of Earth loop impedance test results

The values of earth loop impedance obtained (Zs) should be compared with one of the

1. BS7671 -Tables 41.2, 41.3 and 41.4

100% maximum measured values of earth loop impedance given in Tables 41.2, 41.3 and
41.4 of BS 7671 can be used which should not be exceeded when the conductors are at
their normal operating temperature. These values are the “true” maximum design values for
the circuit without parallel paths or variations in normal operating temperature of the circuit. If
the conductors are at a different temperature when tested, the reading should be adjusted
accordingly with either:

i. The rule of thumb

As an approximation or ‘rule of thumb’ the measured value of earth-fault loop
impedance (Zs) at the most remote outlet should not exceed 80% of the relevant
value given in Tables 41.2, 41.3 and 41.4 of BS 7671.
ii. The verifier’s allowance factor
The verifier (person responsible for the test results and certificates) may have a
percentage factor which he applies to the measured values that will be specific
the installation in which the circuit is installed.

2. Onsite Guide - Standard PVC circuits

The measured loop impedances given in the IEE On-Site Guide have been determined to
ensure compliance with the required disconnection times where conventional final circuits
are installed (shown in Table 7.1 of the Onsite Guide). The values assume that the
maximum operating temperature of the insulation is 70°C and the ambient temperature
when carrying out the tests is at 10°C. At ambient temperatures other than this, correction
factors shown below in table 2E should be applied.

Ambient temperature ºC Correction factors The correction factor is given by:

0 0.96 (1+0.004 (ambient temp – 10)
Where 0.004 is the temperature coefficient per
5 0.98 °C at 20°C for copper and aluminium
10 1.00
20 1.04 E.g. If the ambient temperature is 25°C the
measured impedance of a circuit protected by a
25 1.06 32A type B MCB should not exceed 1.16 x 1.06
30 1.08 = 1.23Ω
Onsite Guide – Table 2E

3. Design values
Where the designer of the installation provides calculated values of earth-loop impedance,
the measured values should be compared with these.

If the circuit being tested is protected by an RCD, the test

procedure may cause the RCD to operate causing unwanted
isolation of the circuit. Certain types of test instrument may be
used that are specifically designed to overcome this problem;
otherwise it will be necessary to measure the value of R1 and
R2 with the circuit isolated and add this to the value of Ze
measured at the incoming terminals

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Test 8 – Operation of residual current devices

Why do we do this test?

All RCDs are electromechanical devices that must be checked regularly to confirm that they
are still in working order. This can be done at regular intervals by simply pressing the test
button on the front of the device. Where an installation incorporates an RCD, Regulation
514-12-2 requires a notice displaying this information to be fixed in a prominent position at or
near the origin of the installation.

The integral test button incorporated in all RCDs only verifies the correct operation of the
mechanical parts of the RCD and does not provide a means of checking the continuity of the
earthing conductor, the earth electrode or the sensitivity of the device. This can only be done
effectively by use of an RCD tester specifically designed for testing RCDs as described

How do we do this test?

The test must be made on the load side of the RCD between the live conductor of the
protected circuit and the associated circuit protective conductor. The load being supplied by
the RCD should be disconnected for the duration of the test. The test instrument is usually
fitted with a standard 13 A plug top, and the easiest way of making these connections,
wherever possible, is by plugging the instrument into a suitable socket outlet protected by
the RCD under test. The correct test current is then selected and the test button is operated.
We then repeat each test

The test instrument operates by passing a simulated fault current of known value
through the RCD and then measures the time taken for the device to trip

Although different types of RCD have different requirements (time delays etc.), for general
purpose RCDs the test criteria are as follows:

1. 50% of the rated trip current of RCD (½ x ∆)

Should not trip in each half cycle
2. 100% of the rated trip current of RCD (1 x ∆)
Should trip the RCD in each half cycle and within 200ms
3. 500% or the rated trip current of RCD (5 x ∆)
Should trip the RCD in each half cycle and within 40ms
4. Functional test of actuator on and off
5. Operation of test switch

Where ∆ is the device rating

If the RCD is rated at 100mA or above only ½ times and 1x tests should be used

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 65


Picture the test

RCD on a Ring Final Circuit (1x∆ and 5x∆ only)

6. Reset RCD
3. Place meter in and repeat
furthest part of ring test with
(mid-point) meter set to
(5 x ∆)

2. Circuit breaker 5. Take

on readings
and record

4. Set to rated
1. Main trip current of
isolator on RCD (1 x ∆)

NOTE: Before we carry out the 1x∆ and 5x∆ tests and obtain the results we must first test at ½ x∆ to ensure the device does
not operate. Following the 3 tests we test the actuator lever and push the test button.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Now answer the questions below

1. Why is it important to follow the correct sequence of tests?

2. State the four main tests that are carried out prior to the supply being energised.

3. Briefly, how do we carry out a method 1 earth continuity test on a 1 way lighting

4. Briefly describe the three step ring final circuit tests.

5. Why do we carry out insulation resistance tests?

6. What is the minimum value of insulation resistance for a 230V circuit?

7. What is the purpose of a polarity test?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1


Now answer the questions below

8. We can test polarity whilst carrying out other tests. What are they and how do we
achieve it?

9. There are three ways of obtaining earth loop impedance (Zs) values. State how.

10. Explain the difference between i) Ze and Zs ii) PFC and PSC.

11. Once we have obtained values for Zs how can we check these values comply with

12. What five tests do we carry out on a residual current device?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 68


Periodic Inspection and Testing

General Requirements

The regular inspection and testing of electrical installations is necessary because over a
period of time the condition of all installations will deteriorate to some extent. This may be
due to normal wear and tear, accidental damage, corrosion or other effects due to
environmental influences, normal ageing or deterioration due to excessive electrical loading.

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) state that: ‘As may be necessary to
prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, as far as is
reasonably practicable, such danger’

This means that all electrical installations must be maintained in a safe condition, and
regular inspection and testing (periodic inspection) is an essential part of any such
preventative maintenance program. In addition to statutory requirements other bodies such
as licensing authorities, insurance companies, mortgage lenders etc. may also require
periodic inspection and testing to be carried out on a regular basis.

Other reasons for carrying out periodic inspection and testing are:
To confirm compliance with the latest edition of BS7671
On a change of ownership of the premises
On a change of use of the premises
On a change of tenancy of the premises
On completion of alterations or additions to the original installation
Following any significant increase in the electrical loading of the installation
Where there is reason to believe that damage may have been caused to the

In the case of an installation that is under constant supervision while in normal use, such as
a factory or other industrial premises, periodic inspection and testing may be replaced by a
system of continuous monitoring and maintenance of the installation provided that adequate
records of such maintenance are kept.

Routine checks

Electrical installations should still be routinely checked in the intervening time between
periodic inspection and testing. In domestic premises it is likely that the occupier will soon
notice any damage or breakages to electrical equipment and will take steps to have repairs
carried out. In commercial or industrial installations a suitable reporting system should be
available for users of the installation to report any potential danger from deteriorating or
damaged equipment.

In addition to this, a system of routine checks should be set up to take place between formal
periodic inspections. The frequency of these checks will depend entirely on the nature of the
premises and the usage of the installation. Routine checks are likely to include activities
such as those listed on the next page.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 69


Routine check list

• Defect reports
Check that all reported defects have been rectified and that the
installation is safe

• Inspection
Look for:
o Breakages
o Wear or deterioration
o Signs of overheating
o Missing parts (covers/screws)
o Switchgear still accessible
o Enclosure doors secure
o Labels still adequate (readable)
o Loose fittings

• Operation
Check operation of:
o Switchgear (where reasonable)
o Equipment (switch off and on)
o RCD (using test button)

All inspections should provide careful scrutiny of the installation without dismantling or with
only partial dismantling where absolutely necessary. It is considered that the unnecessary
dismantling of equipment or disconnection of cables could produce a risk of introducing
faults that were not there in the first place.

The frequency of periodic inspection and testing should aim to provide, as far as reasonably
possible, the following:
The safety of persons and livestock against the effects of electric shock or burns
Protection against damage to property by fire or heat arising from an installation
Confirmation that the installation has not been damaged and has not deteriorated to
the extent that it may impair safety
The identification of any defects in the installation or non-conformity with the current
edition of the Regulations that may cause danger.

In practical terms the inspector is carrying out a general inspection to ensure that the
installation is safe. However, the inspector is required to record and make recommendations
with respect to any items that no longer comply with the current edition of the Regulations.

As with all inspections the person carrying out the work must be competent and have
sufficient knowledge and experience of the type of installation to be inspected and tested.
Enquiries should be made to the person responsible for the installation with regard to the
provision of charts and/or diagrams to indicate the type of circuits, means of isolation and
switching, and types and ratings of protective devices including a written record of all
previous inspection and test results.

The inspection is recorded on a periodic inspection report certificate and any

limitations, which are parts of the installation that can not be checked, are added
as a record incase of any future legal events

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 70


Sequence of tests

Tests to be carried out between:
• All main bonding connections
• All supplementary bonding connections

Note! When an electrical installation cannot be isolated, protective conductors

including bonding conductors must not be disconnected

Tests to be carried out:
• Origin of installation
• All socket outlets
• 10% of control devices (including switches)
• 10% of centre contact lamp holders

Note! If incorrect polarity is found then a full test should be made on that part
of the installation and testing on the remainder increased to 25 per cent. If
further faults are found the complete installation must be tested

Earth-fault loop impedance

Tests to be carried out at:
• Origin of installation
• Each distribution board
• Each socket outlet
• Extremity of every radial circuit

Insulation resistance
If this test is to be carried out then test:
• The whole installation with all protective devices in place and all
switches closed
• Where electronic devices are present, the test should be carried out
between line and neutral conductors connected together and earth

Functional Activities to be carried out:

• All isolation and switching devices to be operated
• All labels to be checked
• All interlocking mechanisms to be verified
• All RCDs to be checked both by test instrument and by test button
• All manually operated circuit breakers to be operated to verify they open
and close correctly

Class discussion
You are asked to carry out a periodic inspection at a small workshop. All goes well until you
come to check the office that is attached to the factory, where you notice that about 20 staff are
working on computers. No installation drawings exist for the office, as it turns out the office was
built as an extension to the factory many years ago.
1. Can you identify the problems you will encounter in this job?
2. How would you deal with the situation?
Inspection and Testing REV4.1 71

Now answer the questions below

1. Why is it necessary to carry out periodic inspections of installations?

2. State the four main reasons why periodic inspections are carried out.

3. When carrying out a periodic inspection what types of things do we look for?

4. Briefly describe how we complete a continuity test on a radial power circuit.

5. Briefly describe what we do to complete a polarity test.

6. Briefly describe what we do to complete earth fault loop impedance test.

7. Briefly describe what we do to complete insulation test.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 72


Unsatisfactory Test Results

When testing the continuity of circuit protective conductors or bonding conductors we should
always expect a very low reading, which is why we must always use a low-reading

Main and supplementary bonding conductors should have a reading of not more than 0.05
ohms whilst the maximum resistance of circuit protective conductors can be estimated from
the value of (R1 + R2) given in Table 9A of the IEE On-Site Guide. These values will depend
upon the cross-sectional area of the conductor, the conductor material and its length.

A very high (end of scale) reading would indicate a break in the conductor itself or a
disconnected termination that must be investigated. A mid-range reading may be caused by
the poor termination of an earthing clamp to the service pipe e.g. a service pipe which is not
cleaned correctly before fitting the clamp or corrosion of the metal service pipe due to its age
and damp conditions.

Correct polarity is achieved by the correct termination of conductors to the terminals of all
equipment. This may be main intake equipment such as isolators, main switches and
distribution boards or accessories such as socket outlets, switches or light fittings.

Polarity is either correct or incorrect; there is nothing in between. Incorrect polarity is caused
by the termination of live conductors to the wrong terminals and is corrected by re-
connecting all conductors correctly. Single pole switches should only be connected in the
live conductor and if the operation of switches during an earth continuity test does not affect
the reading then this may imply the neutral has been connected in the switch and not the live

Insulation resistance
The value of insulation resistance of an installation will depend upon the size and complexity
of the installation and the number of circuits connected to it. When testing a small domestic
installation you may expect an insulation resistance reading in excess of 200 MΩ whilst a
large industrial or commercial installation with many sub-circuits, each providing a parallel
path, will give a much smaller reading if tested as a whole.

It is recommended that, where the insulation resistance reading is less than 2 MΩ, individual
distribution boards or even individual sub-circuits be tested separately in order to identify any
possible cause of poor insulation values. An extremely low value of insulation resistance
would indicate a possible short circuit between live conductors or a bare conductor in contact
with earth at some point in the installation, either of which must be investigated.

A reading below 1.0 MΩ would suggest a weakness in the insulation, possibly due to the
ingress of dampness or dirt in such items as distribution boards, joint boxes or light fittings

Although PVC insulated cables are not generally subject to a deterioration of insulation
resistance due to dampness (unless the insulation or sheath is damaged), mineral insulated
cables can be affected if dampness has entered the end of a cable before the seal has been
applied properly. Other causes of low insulation resistance can be the infestation of
equipment by rats, mice or insects.

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 73


Earth-fault loop impedance

As explained previously the earth-fault loop path is made up of those parts of the supply
system external to the premises being tested (Ze) and the live conductor and circuit
protective conductor within the installation (R1 + R2), the total earth-fault loop impedance
being Zs = Ze + (R1 + R2).

Should the value of impedance measured be higher than that required by the design of the
installation, then as we have no influence on the external value of impedance (Ze) we can
only reduce the value of Zs by:

Installing circuit protective conductors of a larger cross-sectional area or

If aluminium conductors have been used, by changing these to copper.
If the value were still too high to guarantee operation of the circuit protective device in
the time required by BS 7671, then consideration would have to be given to changing
the type of protective device (i.e. fuses to circuit breakers).

Residual Current Devices (RCDs)

Where a Residual Current Device (RCD) fails to trip out when pressing the integral test
button this would indicate a fault within the device itself, which should therefore be replaced.

Where a Residual Current Device fails to trip out when being tested by an RCD tester then it
would suggest a break in the earth return path, which must be investigated. If the RCD does
trip out but not within the time specified then a check should be made that the test
instrument is set correctly for the nominal tripping current of the device under test.

1. What could a high reading during a continuity test indicate?

2. What value of insulation resistance is warrants further investigation?

3. What can cause values of insulation resistance lower than 1.0 MΩ?

4. How can we improve the value of earth loop impedance?

Inspection and Testing REV4.1 74