We all have electrical equipment around us. Whether in our workplace as employees or employers, as students in student accommodation or just visitors to a premises. it is important that this equipment is safe for us to use and be near. Would you know how to check your electrical equipment for faults? Below we provide a simple guide to help you spot electrical faults that need to be fixed.

Any users of electrical equipment should check that there are no signs of damage or interference with that equipment before they use it or move it to a new location. A simple visual check can detect the majority of potential problems. These checks also apply to extension leads and associated plugs and sockets.

It is important to remember that Electricity can kill. Do not take unnecessary chances.

If you are unsure whether any electrical equipment is unsafe or if there are signs that could indicate the equipment is faulty or damaged, DO NOT USE IT and REPORT IT IMMEDIATELY.

Examples of typical faults or damage are shown below.



Damage to the cable sheath (apart from light scuffing)

Outer insulation of the cable is broken. Inner cables or wires are visible.

unsafe cables

Signs of unsafe connections

Electrical cable connectors have been used to join two separate pieces of cable in order to extend the overall length of cable.

overheated socket

Evidence of overheating

Scorch or burn marks on socket casing due to either a poor connection in the socket or in the equipment which is plugged into the socket.

Damage to the plug casing and lack of insulation on bottom two pins

The plug casing is broken. Also, the bottom two metal pins are fully exposed and have no insulation (black sheathing which covers one half of each bottom pin, closest to the plastic casing of the plug).

 Unsuitable conditions –poor housekeeping

Unsuitable conditions –poor housekeeping

Electrical cable is likely to be cut by the circular saw.
lost earth connection

Lost earth connection

The earth wire has become detached from inside the plug casing.

overloaded sockets

Overloaded sockets

Multiple appliances connected to inappropriate adaptors, plugs or extension leads.
damages plug

Damage to cable grip

Electrical cable connectors have been used to join two Outer insulation cable is not gripped inside the plug casing. Internal cables are exposed.

overloaded socket

Overloading and multiple wiring of socket

The wall mains socket is overloaded. Multiple items of electrical equipment have been wired into one plug; this is highly dangerous.
Unsuitable conditions -inside

Unsuitable conditions -inside

Electrical weighing machine used on kitchen sink. Potential contact between water and electricity.

Damage to the casing of the electrical equipment

A portable fan with a broken base. Internal connections and wires are exposed.

Overloading and wiring of second item of equipment onto pins outside protective casing

Wires are exposed. Two items of equipment are being run off a single plug; this is highly dangerous.
Unsuitable conditions –outside

Unsuitable conditions –outside

Electrical extension leads used outside in wet conditions.
Unsuitable conditions –poor housekeeping

Unsuitable conditions –poor housekeeping

Cables are lying across the floor in front of a doorway. Likely trip hazard.
overloaded extension lead

Overloaded socket

An overloaded extension lead which is being used to supply electricity to multi-way plugs and other adaptors.

Other examples of hazards:

  • Trip hazard where cables are covered by carpet or rugs.
  • Heavy furniture or equipment with sharp edges is put on top of cables. This could
    lead to damage to the outer insulation of the cable or wiring inside the cable.

Equiptest can help

If you recognise any of the faults shown above we can help. We will undertake a full inspection of your portable electrical equipment to ensure everything is safe to use. Contact us to find out more.


Sources of photographs:
Maintaining portable and transportable electrical equipment (HSG107) http://www.diynot.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1784842