Is there any definition or guidance as to what a 'Routine Check' should cover

There is very detailed guidance readily available as to what is necessary to cover for the formal periodic inspections of electrical installations, however there appears to be a dearth of information as to what should be covered in the interim routine checks. Is anyone aware of a checklist that would clarify this.

Many thanks for any advice.

  • For the fixed installation, Table 3.1 (and other items discussed in Section 3.5) of IET Guidance Note 3.

    For electrical equipment and systems in general, it really depends on the purpose of the system or equipment.

    To be quite frank, the standards for equipment effectively put this duty on the manufacturer to identify the sorts of things (and when/how/why) they ought to occur ... and for general installations and systems, the onus is placed on the Client, along with the Designer and Contractor, to address these in the CDM information.

    From that, the relevant Duty Holder ought to address going forward (EAWR, PUWER, and general H&S@Wetc.Act duties)

  • Obviously, all installs have a different requirement. A rented falt for students will need more frequent inspections than a flat for an 80yo lady who is very careful to not damage anything, and uses few appliances.

    At a minimum, I would expect an interim safety check to inspect the install checking for any damage to accessories and distribution boards, do a Zs test at various parts of the install, and check the RCD operation. This should check for any immediate dangers that have occured since the full inspection.

    However, if such a report is deemed necessary, why not divide the yearly/bi-yearly/5 yearly inspection into smaller parts, so that a rolling check is done at each inspection, so that safety can be assured as much as possible? Then, a visual inspection can be done at every inspection, but a full test only needs to be done on half of the install, and the other half at the next inspection. If this specification is written out beforehand, and previous test sheet available, then this is easily organised. Just have the last sheets available, then the circuits being tested on the current inspection need not be shown to the Inspector, so there is no chance of results being copied over (yes, it does happen), then, results can be compared to the previous results to see any variations.

  • Take care - routine check means different things in different domains, - if it  refers to the landlord or more likely an property manager or estates agent walking about looking for damage and blocked drains etc then the electrical side of that may be not much more than looking up to see that re the lights in the corridor working, perhaps  the 'happy' lights on the key EM fittings are lit, and no obviously smashed switches or sockets, or equipment reported as not working or burnt looking.

    Anything suspect and it  it is time to call the appropriate specialist, be that the plumber or the sparks, who will do the running repairs and for the electrics the sort of thing Alan is describing - but a mini EICR really is for places where the EICR interval is probably wrong.

    It may also be that In terms of electrical inspections you have seen stuff that is referring to a 'visual inspection' which is sort of the same thing - the tools stay in the van, but someone, quite possibly of a lower skill level, wanders round looking for trouble as it were - see this NICEIEC fact sheet which attempts to clarify.


  • In my view a routine inspection should include;

    Operate the test button on all RCDs/RCBOs.

    External visual examination of all reasonably accessible parts of the installation, looking for heat damage or scorching and broken or missing parts.

    A more thorough inspection of anything added or modified since the last full test.

    Check for excessive or inappropriate use of extension leads and for appliances plugged into lamp sockets.

  • My copy of IET Guidance Note 3 2018 (albeit not the latest 2022 version) states the following for a routine check.

    3.5 Routine checks
    Electrical installations should not be left without any attention for the periods of years that are normally allowed between formal inspections. In domestic premises it is
    presumed that the occupier will soon notice any breakages or excessive wear and arrange for precautions to be taken and repairs to be carried out.
    Commercial and industrial installations come under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and formal arrangements are required for maintenance and interim routine checks (as well as periodic inspections); there should also be facilities to receive wearand-
    tear reports from users of the premises.

    The frequency and type of these routine checks will depend entirely upon the nature of the premises and should be set by the electrical duty holder. Routine checks should
    include the items listed in Table 3.1. Table 3.2 (Section 3.7) provides guidance on the frequency , which may need to be increased as an installation ages.

    Table 3.1 Routine checks:

    Activity Checks
    Defects reports All reported defects have been rectified

    look for:
    wear / deterioration
    signs of overheating
    missing parts (covers, screws)
    loose fixings

    switchgear accessible (not obstructed)
    doors of enclosures secure · ·.
    adequate labelling in place


    switchgear (where reasonable)
    equipment - switch on and off including RCD's (using test button)

    Note that routine checks need not be carried out by an electrically skilled person but
    should be undertaken by somebody who is able to safely use the installation and
    recognise defects 

    There is a general on-going requirement to manage health and safety at work, and
    electrical safety is just one area. To ensure that regular routine checks are made on the
    electrical installation it may be advantageous in larger premises to combine these with
    other regular checks such as emergency lighting and fire alarm inspections, general fire
    safety inspections, emergency exit route inspections etc on security patrols. All results
    should be noted on a simple form and filed for any future reference


  • Obviously, all installs have a different requirement. A rented falt for students will need more frequent inspections than a flat for an 80yo lady who is very careful to not damage anything, and uses few appliances.

    Yes, there are students and students. Some may be careless, others may be curious. Then there is College/University accommodation as opposed to some semi-dilapidated semi-detached shared house. I suspect that only the latter falls under the ESSPRS regs. I would suggest that for student accommodation of the former sort, an annual visual inspection (you can use hearing and touch if you wish) would be part of any normal checks for dilapidations.

    As for the latter, the Regs stipulate:

    "3.—(1) A private landlord(7) who grants or intends to grant a specified tenancy must—

    (a) ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises(8) are occupied under a specified tenancy;"

    I would suggest that whilst a formal EICR should be done no more than 5-yearly, a visual inspection between tenants protects both parties. It's rather like the inspections which are done when marching in and marching out of (Armed) Service accommodation.

  • In addition to my response above about what checks are due with the data from table 3.1, my IET Guidance note 3 also indicates in table 3.2 - 'recommended initial frequencies of inspection of electrical installations'  that in almost every case the recommended initial frequency of the routine check is annually.  Those not listed as annually are educational establishments (6 monthly), medical areas of hospital areas (6 monthly), caravan parks (6 monthly), highways (as convenient), marinas, fish farms and swimming pools (4 monthly), launderettes (monthly), petrol filling stations (yearly, interestingly the same recommended initial frequency as inspection and testing), and construction sites (3 monthly, again the same recommended frequency as inspection and testing).   There are two other cases listed, firstly for emergency lighting at daily and monthly periods, which I assume are to coincide with the BS5266 requirements to check power LED's are illuminated etc and a monthly operational test etc is carried out.  For fire alarms it suggests daily and weekly which coincides with BS 5839's requirement for various checks including panel lights and weekly call point testing.

    Whether that frequency for routine checks should be changed from what's in that table is an interesting one.  Certainly the frequency of inspection and testing should be reviewed at every inspection and testing but I've not personally put a lot of thought into varying the frequency of routine checks before.   What I can say is that in over 30 years of working as facilities / maintenance manager I never encountered a formal installation designer recommending an initial frequency.  Nor any recommendation of a CDM Principle Designer but I'll not write more on the latter at this time.

    In my last job we had mainly commercial buildings across the country and in my area of responsibility a number were in poor condition with lots of damp issues and little business interest in addressing that.  And a number had rats or other vermin. I had a small number where due to the very poor condition of the buildings, inspection and testing was actually carried out annually.  We also had a few holiday let properties spread across the country which were well maintained, though only one in my area of work.  I brought up the electrical maintenance subject amongst colleagues as we had no internal standard or guidance for holiday lets.  My suggestion was, that we should ideally adopt a common initial frequency of inspection and testing for those well maintained holiday lets as that building type (holiday let) is not listed in table 3.2 of Guidance note 3. They're buildings which can have a change of occupier every week so are hardly the same as a rented house or flat which requires, at least initially, an inspection and test at changeover of occupier or 10 years.  Getting back to the point of routine checks, I also tentatively suggested that the holiday let changeover manager /; cleaner could have a role in routine checks if they were given some basic training.  They're in the property every week or fortnight and much of the items listed in table 3.1 could potentially be carried out by someone of their skill level.  Backed up once per annum by someone of greater skill or competence.   Their input would be helpful in overall safety management, as an addition rather than instead of. I'd at least hoped to have a discussion with colleagues on this but by the time I'd left the organisation no progress had been made.



  • Thanks guys to all who have chipped in on this one. Very helpful comments which have helped clarify what is essential and what could also be included as good practice.