Electricity can be extremely dangerous, and yet it’s found all around us in numerous applications. Every room of your house is likely to contain at least one piece of electrical equipment, which means that potential hazards are everywhere. Problems are indeed rare, but it’s always good to be able to say whether an electrical item is safe or not. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to have a basic understanding, and a simple visual inspection will cover the vast majority of potential issues, whether you’re looking at a computer monitor or a simple phone charger.
Step 1: Switch off and unplug whatever you’re about to inspect, just to be on the safe side. You should never work on live electrical equipment without proper training. If you’re looking to get a strong understanding of electrical safety, then a PAY testing course from PASS might be the route to take.
Step 2: Take a look at the plug itself. Make sure that it’s not damaged in any way and that all of the wiring is correctly in place and secure. If you’re competent, you can also open up the plug to check that all of the internal wiring is as it should be. The BBC have a great guide to UK plug wiring here.
Step 3: Read the rating of the fuse, and compare it to the manufacturer’s instructions (if there are no available guidelines, then this formula may help). You should never use a higher amp fuse than the maximum, though you can use a lower rated fuse if there is no alternative. Be aware however that if the fuse rating is too low, it will blow when you switch on the power.
Step 5: Check along the entire length of the cabling to ensure that there is no damage. It’s worth bearing in mind that what might appear to be a minor nick in the plastic could actually turn into severe damage quite quickly. Exposed wires can be very dangerous, and cheap electrical tape is not a substitute for a correctly fitted replacement wire.
Step 6: The final check is to have a look at the external housing of any of the electronics. It should be free from damage that might expose electrical currents. Overheating is also a hazard, and can sometimes be revealed by discolouration or even burn marks.