Your fan could have been stored away for months – you go to plug it in without a second thought, but how do you know your fan is safe for use?
So it’s been an absolute scorcher this last few weeks with record beating temperatures across the UK! I’m going to guess a lot of you have gotten your fans out from the cupboard and plugged them in without much thought. Can you be sure that, from an electrical point of view, your fan is safe for use?
If they have been sat at the back of the cupboard with the flex wound tightly around the base/stem, then there is a chance that there could be damage to the cable, the fan itself or the plug top.
I’m not suggesting you throw it away, or call us out to check it every year, but there are a couple of checks you can carry out that will ensure your fan is safe for use and you can chill with peace of mind.
Regular Checks for Electrical Equipment:
These should be carried out before most electrical equipment is used (not just when checking whether your fan is safe) and should be completed before the item is plugged in. Whilst we appreciate it is unlikely you will be completing in-depth checks of each and every thing you plug in, you should be aware of the following items as matters which will adversely affect safety of any electrical item :
- damage to the flex including cuts or heavy scuffing, bulges or bumps;
- damage to the plug, eg to the cover or bent pins;
- any tape applied to the lead to join leads together;
- coloured wires visible where the flex enters the plug (the cable is not being gripped where it enters the plug);
- damage to the outer cover of the equipment, including loose parts or screws;
- signs of overheating, such as burn marks or yellow-brown staining on the plug, flex or piece of electrical equipment;
- equipment that has been used or stored in unsuitable conditions, such as wet or dusty places or where water spills are possible; and
- cables trapped under furniture or in doors
Period Visual inspections (after equipment has been stored to be certain your fan is safe for use):
To carry out a visual inspection you don’t need to be an electrician, but you do need to know what to look out for and you must also have sufficient knowledge to avoid danger to yourself and others, either during the inspection or as a result of you having checked the equipment.
A bit of simple training can equip you with some basic electrical knowledge (at least as far as visually inspecting simple appliances anyway!) to enable you to carry out a visual inspection competently and safely.
As part of the visual inspection, you should consider whether:
- the electrical equipment is being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions (if available);
- the equipment is suitable for the job it is being used for;
- the visual inspection should include the regular checks outlined above and, where possible, will include removing the plug cover and checking internally that:
- there are no signs of internal damage, overheating or water damage to the plug or pins;
- the correct sized fuse is in use (see below) and it’s a proper fuse, not a piece of wire, nail, tinfoil, etc;
- the wires including the earth, where fitted, are attached to the correct terminal (see pic below);
- the terminal screws are tight;
- the cord grip is holding the outer part (sheath) of the cable tightly; and
- no bare copper wire is visible other than at the terminals.
For equipment/cables fitted with moulded plugs only the fuse can be checked. A thorough once over of the outer moulded case to visually ascertain there has been no damage sustained should be given in this instance.
Further notes on electrical appliance safety:
PAT Testing (as it is often known) is actually an incorrect acronym. Portable Appliance Testing (thus PAT) was an older name for what is now more accurately known as ISITEE (In Service Inspection & Testing of Electrical Equipment). This more accurately reflects the fact that items which are not ‘portable’, still require testing. Despite popular misconception it is any fixed item also, basically anything that uses current from the installation. So yes it may include portable items like desk fans and vacuums, it would also include testing fridges, washing machines and even fixed panel heaters.
Whilst it is true that you can complete PAT testing without being an electrician, watching a DVD or online video will not give you the experience in order to be able to interpret the results of the test. Would you know the relationship between cable size and resistance for example? As well as being able to test, your equipment requires careful calibration annually and you should have professional indemnity insurance in place to cover the assessments on suitability for continued use that you are providing as part of your ‘PAT testing’. If you are wanting your own items checking, buying a tester and doing it yourself is likely not correct, however doing it correctly would be uneconomical compared to just having the peace of mind from a professional test. We recommend that if you do want your appliances PAT tested, you should seek the services of a local professional to complete this work on your behalf.
A Tip About Fuses
In the section above about periodic visual inspection, I mentioned that you should ensure that your piece of electrical equipment (whilst checking your fan is safe in this instance) is using the correct fuse. A lot of people incorrectly assume that a 13 amp fuse is a ‘one size fits all’ solution which protects all plug in equipment. This is not the case, whilst yes the plug may be 13A, differing sized cables, either within the flex or the equipment itself can mean that you need a lower power fuse. For what it’s worth, most household fans should be on a 3A fuse.
We can give our customers free advice on what is the correct fuse to protect your appliance if you are unsure.
Thanks for reading, I hope this information was useful to you. If you need an Electrician in Wakefield, give me a call where you will be dealt with personally. Otherwise, enjoy the sun and make sure to stay safe around electrical equipment