Do I need to have work done on C3s from an Electrical Installation Condition Report?
On an electrical installation condition report (EICR) section 6 of the report (small installations up to 100 amp single phase supply) highlights Observations and recommendations for actions to be taken. Any defects or deviations from the current British Standards BS7671 will be noted in this section. The engineer who is conducting the report will then issue a classification code against this observation as to, in his or her opinion, the potential risk of danger from fire or electric shock. There is guidance on this and the person carrying out the report should have an above average knowledge and experience of the electrical installations being tested.
A Code C1 constitutes something that the engineer has seen that presents danger and immediate action is required as those using the installation are at immediate risk. A good example of this is where there are exposed electrical terminations, such as blank fuse ways open and susceptible to a finger touching a live busbar or termination, or a broken socket where the terminations are exposed and open to touch. All C1 observations must be either repaired without delay or isolated and switched off, removing any danger.
A code 2 covers any observations which a Potentially dangerous defect has been found. What does this mean? Well, while there is not an immediate danger as in the examples above, a C2 observation has the potential to be dangerous under certain conditions. For example, if a cable that does not have an earth conductor, is supplying a luminaire, which is all plastic with no metallic conductive parts, that would be classed as potentially dangerous. There is no immediate danger from electric shock as there are no conductive parts, however if the luminaire was ever changed, it could be dangerous if the new luminaire required an earth for safety. Another example may be a socket which is cracked, while currently it is not immediately dangerous, with use, by inserting and removing a plug, it could get worse and expose live terminals as in our example for the code 1
A Code 3 means improvement is recommended. There are a couple of reasons a classification of code 3 is given. The observation may be that the defect no longer meets the requirements of the current regulations as it was installed to the standards of previous regulations. Does this mean that it is dangerous, or potentially dangerous? No, but it is recommended that it is brought up to the latest standards. Why? Because the standards are upgraded and improved, not to make people spend more money, but to improve safety. An example of this is the lighting circuits in a domestic installation are now required to have RCD protection for additional safety. Previous to 2018, this was not the case providing the earth fault path was sufficient to disconnect the supply by tripping the circuit breaker. By upgrading this code 3 the lighting circuit and the persons using it are now a lot safer. Another reason for the code 3 may be the circuits are not labelled up correctly. While this is not necessarily dangerous, by improving this observation will make it safer for maintenance purposes.
In a nutshell, while a code 3 does not mean that there is potential danger, it should be improved to ensure safety from fire, burns, or electric shock.