Frequently Asked Questions about PAT testing2021-09-06T13:49:36+00:00

FAQs – Frequently asked questions about PAT Testing

pat testing faqs

PAT Testing FAQs

Is PAT testing a legal requirement in the UK?2021-09-13T15:07:03+00:00

Whilst there is no definitive legal requirement to specifically carry out PAT, there are legal requirements to maintain safe electrical equipment, and to prove you do that. A PAT Test Certificate is the most recognised method for doing this.

Do you remind us when our next tests are due?2021-09-04T17:51:50+00:00

Yes we do. Every month we send reminders out by email to every client who’s PAT is expiring in the next 8-12 weeks. We’ll offer a date to come in to do the work, all you need to do is accept it or suggest a different date.

How often do we need PAT testing?2021-09-04T17:10:34+00:00

This is the hardest question to answer; answered more easily when we see the job, or after.

PAT testing frequency causes many arguments and discussions but ultimately it comes down to this – how big the risk of the appliance getting damaged or used incorrectly, is? 

If the appliance could get easily damaged, then it will need testing more often than something that won’t get much damage.

For example, a computer on a desk in an office, probably won’t get moved for a few years, so what’s the chances of it developing a fault? Not much. So it won’t need testing as often as a drill on a building site.

Why most people get annual PAT testing

Most people get PAT done annually because it’s preferred by insurers, accepted by Health and Safety, and usually the cheapest option. 

Under Health and Safety at Work you are responsible for ensuring electrical equipment maintains safety standards; how often you do that is worked out by a competent person doing a risk assessment. The Assessment needs doing on every appliance type and working environment at your site; it can be quite extensive. 

The assessment should show how often appliances need testing, how often they need inspecting and so on. 

Or you can do what everyone else does who can’t be bothered to do that – just get it tested annually or based on our guidance. 

In low risk environments like offices you could get a high proportion of your equipment done less often – PC and monitors that never move – the chances of them developing a fault are extremely small, so we may be able to put them on a 2-3 yearly frequency… but some equipment will need doing more often. 

This is how we tend to do things…

Option 1: we retest everything every year 

Option 2: we put appliances on a retest period based on HSE/IEE guidance periods with no risk assessments in place; different appliances/different environments on different frequencies and we manage that for you. There is an initial set up cost dependent on the size of the job. 

Option 3: you do own risk assessments or get them done by someone else and tell us what equipment to test, and when. 

 

We have bought something new since the last test, does it need testing before we use it?2021-09-04T18:07:02+00:00

It’s accepted that you get a year’s grace on a new appliance in a normal working environment; so if you have bought something new you should be ok, but to be safe we always recommend you do get it tested before use.

 

An appliance has been missed on the PAT test visit2021-09-04T17:48:39+00:00

If something has been missed, let us know so we can come back to test it. When tested we will add it to the report.

If the mistake was ours, we will do this without charge.

If we get there and find it was tested, and is labelled, you will be charged the attendance fee.

If it got missed because it wasn’t on site, or was hidden in a cupboard or drawer for example, then a new attendance fee will be charged plus the price per item

How do we pay the invoice?2021-09-04T17:52:18+00:00

Within a few days of the job we will send your invoice; this may come before or after the report.

The invoice should be paid on receipt, although we do give up to 30 days automatic credit.

Invoices can be paid by BACS (bank transfer), cash, or by card via PayPal (you don’t need a PayPal account). Sorry but we do not accept cheques.

How quickly can we get the PAT Certificate?2021-09-04T18:02:45+00:00

You can get it the same day if that’s when you need it.

In most cases we send the PAT Certificate within a few days; we do say we’ll get it to every client in 5 days but in particularly busy periods it may take a little longer, but we do keep you updated.

If you need the report faster, like the same day, that can be arranged, but we will need you to pay the engineer before he leaves site.

We have some ‘fixed’ appliances, can you test them?2021-09-04T18:08:51+00:00

Appliances that have been fixed to the mains are different, but we can still help you.

If you have a portable appliance (has a plug on) but remove the plug to hard wire it to the mains, usually via a fused spur unit, it will need testing.

When we are doing the PAT, we will check it for earth continuity, but not insulation. To do an insulation test we need to isolate the power (turn it off) and remove the appliance’s wiring – this is going to cause a lot of disruption to you, so may need doing out of hours.

A full fixed appliance test, is not part of PAT, but is part of inspection and testing of electrical equipment, and should only be done by a person competent in safe isolation, which most PAT testers are not.

We can do this for you, but not at a per item rate. For this service we charge our hourly rates. We recommend you speak to us about your options, probably best whilst we’re on the job. If we come across a fixed appliance we will recommend what to do.

We actually recommend you get your electrician to check the appliance when they do their EICR, or maintain the appliance. After all; it is their job to maintain anything on the mains wiring system.

What if something needs repairing?2021-09-04T18:12:57+00:00

If something needs repairing, we’ll try to do it.

In-scope remedial work for PAT includes:

  • Repairing or replacing the existing plug
  • Replacing the existing fuse
  • Repairing the existing flexible cable
  • Basic repairs to the appliance

If anything else needs doing like replacing the full lead, or specialist repairs to the appliance additional work is needed. We may be able to replace the full lead but we will quote you for that work; and if the appliance needs specialist repair you’ll need to organise that.

If an appliance needs repair, it will fail our tests – you will need to get it repaired, and retested by us before it can be updated on the report, and be put back into service.

What about the server?2021-09-04T18:10:01+00:00

The server is the problem… to test a server, it’s like any other appliance; it needs unplugging. But that isn’t always possible; you could arrange for it to be done outside working hours, or you could do what everyone else does, and get it visually inspected.

A visual inspection on something still plugged in is very basic, but sometimes is the best that can be done. However, this should not be done every time for years and years; at some point the server will need shutting down for a proper test. Usually this should be every 5 years from installation.

If your server isn’t a big server in a rack in a special room, but is just another computer in the office, make sure it can’t be accidentally switched off. Lockable socket covers are a great idea to prevent this.

We will never switch off a server; it’s up to you to shut it down and start it back up.

Preparing for the appointment2021-09-04T18:05:03+00:00

The best way to prepare for PAT testing is to accept that we will need to access your electrical equipment, and when we are testing it you can’t be using it. So computers will need shutting down and users will need to leave their work area whilst we do our job. If you can cope with that it flows nicely.

If you’re business is office based, and people share desk space/banks of desks, it’s more than likely they will share extension leads so the full bank will need to come off. If this really isn’t possible, like we experience when testing the computers of Police 999 call handlers, then we will work with you to find the best solution.

For most people, its fairly easy to organise.

If you have equipment usually kept in drawers and cupboards; get them out ready – we don’t like to invade personal space by rummaging around, unless you tell us to.

Also, if you people working from home, or engineers with equipment in vans you need to make arrangements for them to come in to work, or we can go to them (additional costs will apply)

If you have any questions just ask.

Appointment booking2021-09-04T17:00:44+00:00

When the appointment is booked we’ll tell you; if more info needs to be sent out we’ll send you it but usually it’s not necessary or you can get the info from here.

 

When you are ready to accept the price2021-07-05T13:13:12+00:00

When you are happy with the price offered, accepting it is easy – you just need to tell us. From there we will find a convenient date to carry out the work and book the job in.

How do we quote for a PAT testing job when you contact us?2021-09-04T16:13:20+00:00

When you contact us for a price, we take certain info such as the type of business, location, how many appliances etc. and from that work out a price for the job. As well as those factors we need to work out how long the job will take, how many repairs etc are expected and putting all that together gives us a price to work on.

We’ll then quote you at that rate. We may be able to negotiate, if necessary.

Do new items need PAT Testing?2021-09-04T17:51:23+00:00

You’ve just bought a new kettle for the office, but you missed the PAT tester, does the kettle need testing now? Will you have to call the tester back out and pay a call out fee? 

If you can be sure the new items have been purchased from a reputable supplier, are genuine manufactured and not counterfeit, British Standard with UK plugs on then there is probably no reason to get the item PAT tested before use. If you are at all unsure, then you should. 

How long does office PAT testing take?2021-09-04T18:00:54+00:00

If your office is small, with say 5 desks, we’d need around 1.5 hours to complete; if you have 20 desks which is about 150 items we’re going to need a bit more time; it could be done in 3-4 hours if conditions are right. We usually estimate to be able to test 30-50 items in an hour in an office, so 200 to 300 is about average per day.  

Larger offices, call centres, business centres etc will need a site visit to predict time but as an example an office with 100 desks, is around 750 items, will take a few days to complete for one engineer – we’d probably bring 2-3 to reduce the time on site, however, this will mean more disruption for you as more staff will be off at the same time, so we need to weigh up the best options. 

What does it cost to PAT test the office?2021-09-04T18:11:50+00:00

In a normal environment like a small business, a per item rate tends to be best, but if your office is big like a call centre then you’ll likely find an hourly/day rate to be more cost effective. In some offices we could test 30-50 items in an hour; on an hourly rate you’ll save money, against per item rates. We will quote you for both options and you can decide on the preference, just remember if you choose per item and we end up doing 100 items more than expected, but in the same time, you’ll pay for the extra 100 items – if you’d gone for the time-based price; you wouldn’t. 

Price options:

  • Price per item, or 
  • Hourly/day rate
How do you PAT test servers?2021-09-04T17:59:25+00:00

Most offices have a server system which terrifies the office manager when the PAT tester is in – worry no more; we don’t switch them off, nor do we insist on it. In fact, if it was safe when it was installed, it’s probably safer if we just leave it well alone.

A server should be maintained by an IT technician who will keep it in a good working state; even those really messy ones are usually functioning well. 

If you can organise a time, even a different day, when the server can be shutdown to be fully tested that would be ideal but because the risk is very low, and the server is in effect a fixed/stationery asset it should only need one test every 4-5 years. 

We have the option of a doing a thermal survey to find any unusual hot spots and can check the earth is functioning on the racks. 

If you do want the server testing but don’t want the disruption we can work with you outside normal business hours to get this job done. 

What equipment needs testing?2021-09-04T18:12:17+00:00

Every detachable part of an appliance that requires mains power to operate needs testing, and will be recorded as another item. So for example, a computer workstation has a monitor and PC; each with a detachable IEC lead – so that is 4 items. An extension lead will be another, a second monitor is 2 more items, and so on. When we count how many items will be tested this is what we are counting, and when you are charged on a per item rate you will be charged for each item… if you’re unsure how many items you have you may find it more beneficial to pay our hourly rate than a rate per item, as the costs can quickly mount up. 

How do we work out how many items we have to test?2021-09-04T17:57:50+00:00

How many items you have is confusing, and you’re never going to be able to count everything if you have a big office, but we do need an approximate amount so we know what to quote for and so that we know roughly how long the job will take so we know how much time to allocate for the appointment. 

As an example; a PC and monitor combination is 4 items, as there is the PC base unit, plus its power lead, the Monitor screen and its power lead – that’s 4 items. If they happen to have low voltage power packs then there may be extra items; if they are powered via an extension lead that is another item. There may be a lamp on the desk, a phone charger, even a printer.. it all adds up. 

Around the office there will be other printers, copiers, laminators, heaters, fans, radios, kitchen appliances, etc. 

What we do is for every desk (one PC and one Monitor) we multiply that by 8 which gives us a rough idea of how many appliances will be in the full office. So if you have 20 desks, we’ll multiply that by 8 to get 160 items; we’ll quote based on that. 

Are power leads tested as separate items2021-09-04T17:01:41+00:00

Power leads that detach from an appliances, such as the IEC lead from the PC, the lead is tested on its own as a separate item. This is because the lead could be faulty, which would affect the results of the PC test, but also as the lead or PC could be moved and be used attached to a different appliance or lead. The lead is considered to be an appliance on its own.  

When counting how many items for testing you have, remember to count the leads. 

What are our main services?2020-08-23T10:32:44+00:00

Here’s a list of the services we provide; click on any service to get more information on what we do:

PAT testing – appliances with plugs

FAT testing – fixed appliances 

Microwave Oven Emissions Testing

Fixed wiring inspections (EICR)

Emergency lighting inspections

 

How long does a PAT test last?2021-09-04T18:00:12+00:00

A PAT test is like an MOT; it’s as good as the day it is done. An electrical appliance can be damaged later that day or any time after, making it unsafe, which is why it is good practice to retest as often as a risk assessment recommends, and to ensure you are doing your own in-house checks before use. Checking appliances regularly ensures any faults are found and dealt with, hopefully before they become a major issue, but by doing so you should be doing enough to satisfy investigators in the event of an accident. That is why we PAT test. PAT, or Portable Appliance Testing is a process to make sure electrical equipment fitted with a plug is safe to continue using, and is an important part of health and safety.  

How often do I need to PAT test?2021-06-04T07:05:35+00:00
risk assessment document used to determine pat testing frequency / How often do you need to get your electrical equipment PAT tested?

How often do you need to get your electrical equipment PAT tested?

To comply with British workplace regulations, you need to make sure all electrical equipment is always safe and do what needs to be done as often as is necessary to ensure that is the case. Information on the regulations that affect you are on “regulations that impact electrical equipment” page.

In reference to portable appliances (electrical equipment fitted with a plug or intended to be fitted with a plug but now hard wired); they need to be checked as often as is necessary to ensure they don’t get damaged or deteriorate to the point of causing an accident or fire. This could be due to misuse, incorrect use, damage during use, use in improper environments and so on.

To determine what action needs to be taken and when, the HSE recommends a person competent (in electrical safety and fire prevention, etc.) carries out risk assessments for the different types of equipment and working environments (in your workplace / places of work) to determine what action needs to be taken. From this a frequency should be established. This would then need to be reviewed at regular intervals. Portable appliances may need an inspection, or inspection and test anywhere between every month and every 4-5 years.

Most insurance companies however expect you to do everything necessary as often as possible to eliminate risk and will check what you’re doing in the event of a claim – they tend to consider a 12-month period between checks as the maximum term.

(They will also be expecting you to be doing in-house user checks.

Most companies tend to go with the insurance option and get their equipment tested annually; it’s considered best practice and experience has shown that with annual checks there is a strong likelihood that equipment will be maintained, new additions will be picked up and faults will be kept to a minimum. It’s also widely regarded as the cheapest option.

Which you choose is up to you; we will send you an annual reminder, unless you tell us otherwise. We find this works well for clients, as they may have got some new equipment or moved premises since we last attended, and the reminder is a good ‘reminder’ that they need.  Some equipment will need combined inspection and testing, and some will just need an inspection, either way when there is about 8 weeks left until the anniversary of testing, we’ll send a reminder including a date for a new appointment – after doing this for over 10 years, we have found this to be the best practice and expected by our clients.

If you have done a risk assessment and determined alternate retest periods, then its best to provide us with a copy so we can update our records for the reminders; then we can remind you what needs to be done based on your own company policy.

For more information on what we can do for you or to arrange for us to help maintain your safe electrical equipment, contact us today.

How much does it cost for PAT Testing?2021-09-04T18:01:46+00:00

This depends on the job requirements, we always recommend you contact us to discuss your requirements, from which we can provide you with a PAT testing quote. Our average price is just £1 per item

Do new electrical items need PAT testing?2021-09-04T17:05:37+00:00

Not usually, new items do not need testing if you are sure they are from a reputable supplier however if you have the slightest doubt, and by the fact you are asking the question there may be an argument to recommend that new items are PAT tested for you. 

We do recommend that you register new appliances with register my appliance, to be notified if any recalls are released for your new items. 

Do new electricals need PAT testing?2020-06-07T10:21:25+00:00

It depends on your company policy but most would say no; guidance suggests not; that new electricals need PAT testing – providing you are sure the appliance is from a reputable source. If so it should be British Standard, and should have been safety tested before leaving the factory. If you get appliances tested regularly new equipment will be picked up by the tester when the next testing period begins. For further guidance refer to the HSE or your speak to us directly. 

What are our PAT testing requirements?2021-09-03T18:05:35+00:00

You are legally required in the UK to operate a business or organisation in line with the regulations, requirements and guidance of Health and Safety. Where electrical safety is concerned we have to consider the:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Not complying with these regulations is very serious and can result in fines, even imprisonment. One of the easiest and most recognised methods to help you comply with these regulations is PAT testing. 

The law requires employers and the self employed to ensure that all electrical equipment that they provide for their business is safe and correctly maintained. As PAT (portable appliance testing) confirms safety it should be an important part of your health and safety regime. 

How long does a PAT Test Certificate last?2021-09-04T16:13:01+00:00

A PAT test Certificate is like an MOT – it’s only as good as the day it is done; it confirms that the equipment listed was tested, and passed at the time it was tested. After that it is up to you to maintain safe equipment, until the next time it is tested, which is dependent on a risk assessment. (See our blog on the subject of how long a PAT Test Certificate lasts)

Does new electrical equipment need PAT testing?2021-09-05T20:24:51+00:00

If you are sure they came from a reputable supplier than they shouldn’t need PAT testing. New equipment should be safe when manufactured, and are tested before leaving the factory, so there should be no need for you to have to PAT test them before using them. Our page on whether new electrical goods need testing before use gives more information on this subject

Will I get into trouble if I don’t get PAT testing done?2021-09-05T20:26:01+00:00

It depends on the situation; if there has been an electrical accident at work and you can’t prove that your electrical equipment is safe; it is possible you will but its worth learning more about whether you will or won’t get into trouble over this.

What are surge protectors for?2021-09-04T18:10:52+00:00

Surge protectors are designed to protect electrical equipment from voltage surges, and they should be used to protect important equipment

Why do I need to bother with PAT testing at all?2020-03-29T08:10:00+00:00

PAT Testing has been systemically carried out in the UK since the 1980s because it is seen as an effective way of minimizing electrical risks in the workplace.

Periodic PAT testing helps organisations to follow Health and Safety Regulations, such as The Electricity at Work Act (1989) and the UK Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998).

By having a managed programme for inspection and testing you are more likely to find and deal with potential electrical problems before they become too much of a major issue.

Electrical systems and equipment left unchecked are likely to degrade which could lead to further issues – both financially and in terms of health and safety legislation.

 

What happens if the plug can’t be accessed?2021-09-04T16:59:29+00:00

When the plug can’t be accessed we can carry out an earth continuity test on the appliance, using the nearest socket or spur. 

If the appliance is wired directly into the mains, we can also test that, but there is a bit more involved in that process so see our page on Fixed Appliance Testing

Do users of our site need their equipment testing?2021-09-04T18:13:34+00:00

It is always recommended that the equipment of other users of your facility have their equipment tested – how do you know it is safe otherwise? If their equipment starts a fire will your insurers validate the claim? 

How often does electrical equipment need testing?2021-09-04T16:14:30+00:00

Electrical equipment should be tested inline with a risk assessment. 

Risk assessments should be carried out on the electrical equipment you use, to determine the most appropriate testing procedures. 

How often does electrical equipment need testing?

How often does electrical equipment need testing?

To comply with British workplace regulations, you need to make sure all electrical equipment is always safe and do what needs to be done as often as is necessary to ensure that is the case.

In reference to portable appliances (electrical equipment fitted with a plug or intended to be fitted with a plug but now hard wired); they need to be checked as often as is necessary to ensure they don’t get damaged or deteriorate to the point of causing an accident or fire. This could be due to misuse, incorrect use, damage during use, use in improper environments and so on.

To determine what action needs to be taken and when, the HSE recommends a person competent (in electrical safety and fire prevention, etc.) carries out risk assessments for the different types of equipment and working environments (in your workplace / places of work) to determine what action needs to be taken. From this a frequency should be established. This would then need to be reviewed at regular intervals. Portable appliances may need an inspection, or inspection and test anywhere between every month and every 4-5 years.

Most companies tend to get their equipment tested annually; it’s considered best practice and experience has shown that with annual checks there is a strong likelihood that equipment will be maintained, new additions will be picked up and faults will be kept to a minimum. It’s also widely regarded as the cheapest option.

Which you choose is up to you; we will send you an annual reminder, unless you tell us otherwise. We find this works well for clients, as they may have got some new equipment or moved premises since we last attended, and the reminder is a good ‘reminder’ that they need.  Some equipment will need combined inspection and testing, and some will just need an inspection, either way when there is about 8 weeks left until the anniversary of testing, we’ll send a reminder including a date for a new appointment – after doing this for over 10 years, we have found this to be the best practice and expected by our clients.

If you have done a risk assessment and determined alternate retest periods, then its best to provide us with a copy so we can update our records for the reminders; then we can remind you what needs to be done based on your own company policy.

We have Server Systems we don’t want to turn off2021-09-04T18:05:50+00:00

We do not turn off or shut down server systems – it is up to you to do that. 

We recommend you make arrangements for your server to be shutdown to be tested either for this appointment, or we can arrange a more convenient out of hours solution. A server system should be tested at least once in five years. 

If the server can’t be turned off (or has been tested once in the last five years) we will carry out the best visual inspection we can on each part of the appliance. 

We may carry out a thermal survey on the server – we don’t provide you with images of this, unless excessive hot spots are detected

We don’t turn back on servers that have been turned off – its up to you to do that 

We have microwave ovens, can they be tested for leakage?2021-09-04T17:49:20+00:00

Yes; we do not do this as standard, but if you require microwave ovens testing, let us know. 

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