Checking that an “…RCD (not exceeding 30mA) has been fitted to all socket outlets of rating 32A or less” is another inspection in the 5th section of the 18th edition Inspection Schedule.
A particularly easy inspection to complete, this is simply ensuring that the installation has an RCD for all sockets.
This could be at “circuit level” (whereby an RCD covers the whole socket circuit) or even that individual sockets have 30mA RCD protection built into them.
This inspection does apply to every installation, even in instances where the installation was completed before RCD protection was a requirement for sockets.
What exactly am I checking when confirming there is an RCD for all sockets?
RCD in consumer unit
It should be quite obvious by the layout of the consumer unit if a socket circuit is or is not protected by a 30mA RCD unit
If the consumer unit is poorly labelled, or you cannot verify that RCD protection is present then this can be confirmed with a simple test.
If there is any doubt then the best course of action is to connect your RCD tester to a socket on that particular circuit and complete a test.
As the tester runs through the individual tests, the RCD protecting the sockets should trip on the x1 & x5 tests.
If the RCD does not trip when tested, then the circuit either does not have RCD protection, or the RCD itself is faulty.
It may not be possible to complete this test if the circuit is in use and cannot be isolated. This would more be an issue in commercial/industrial settings where sensitive equipment may be connected to that circuit. In a domestic setting, you should always be able to isolate circuits and thus perform the RCD test.
RCBO fitted in consumer unit
The consumer unit may be fitted with an RCBO as opposed to an RCD. This would only provide RCD protection to the particular circuit which it served.
Consumer unit changes under the 18th edition are often covered by RCBO protection on each circuit. The thing to be aware of with older installations is the that there could be multiple circuits and the RCBO is only for the downstairs sockets, for example. In this instance, there is no ‘RCD for all sockets’ and thus this must be recorded on the schedule of inspections
Similarly to the ‘up-front’ RCD listed above, if the consumer unit/distribution board is not labelled properly, using an RCD tester in the socket outlet should easily identify the particular RCBO which serves that circuit (assuming that the RCBO is functioning properly)
RCD in socket outlet itself
Another possible source of RCD protection for the sockets is that the installation uses BS7288 socket outlets
These particular socket outlets have a 30mA RCD built into the outlet itself. Obviously, this particular method only covers the socket outlet to which the BS7288 outlet is fitted.
When completing this inspection, you are checking that all sockets have RCD protection.
In this case, any socket which is not a BS7288 outlet then does not have RCD protection and thus needs highlighting on this inspection. In this instance the installation would not have provision of an RCD for all sockets.
Although not impossible, to be honest there are not many installations which rely on BS7288 RCD socket outlets to provide protection across all the sockets. Maybe the odd socket, but very rarely when dealing with a wide number of different circuits.
Electrical Installation Certificates
Obviously the above write up is geared more towards inspecting someone else’s work when completing an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report).
However if you have just installed any form of Consumer Unit or Distribution Board as part of some Electrical Installation Works, then you will need to tick this section when completing the Schedule of Inspections.
The tick is to ensure that you have checked this part of your works, and that the installation complies with the relevant regulations.
You cannot use a C2/C3 style code here as any new electrical installation work WILL comply with the regulations. You are simply ticking the box to record that you have completed the inspection and your work complies.
Summary & Conclusion
If when testing/inspection you find that the installation does not have an RCD for all sockets less than 32A, then you need to record this on the EICR.
Generally, this is considered to be a C3 – Improvement Recommended issue.
There is another inspection directly after this one which deals with the issue of having no RCD for sockets which feed mobile outdoor equipment, and this is dealt with slightly more ‘harshly’ than this inspection due to the increased risk of electric shock when working outdoors.
If you cannot inspect and confirm that the circuit is covered by an RCD (although this would be quite rare as it should be fairly easy to confirm whether there is an RCD for all sockets), be sure to include the fact within the section on ‘Operational Limitations’.
Most large scale commercial inspections will have a number of limitations, and that is not a problem. However you must ensure that these are accurately documented so that it is crystal clear exactly what has (& has not) being inspected to ensure that you are covering your own back.
What Code Would This Attract?
If there is no RCD for all sockets within the installation you must record the issue on the schedule of inspections. Doing this, you must give a code depending on what particular risk the issue is to the safety of the installation.
Whilst having no RCD for all sockets is obviously a safety issue, and certainly doesn’t meet the 18th edition requirements, we are assessing the suitability of the installation for continued use.
If we follow the example set in the Electrical Safety First Best Practice Guide 4 (EICRs), we see that having no RCD for all sockets is recommended to be a C3 – IMPROVEMENT RECOMMENDED issue.
This means that whilst it should ideally be upgraded to improve safety, the installation would still be classed as SATISFACTORY for continued use (assuming that there are no more serious issues elsewhere).
However if we read the Codebreakers book from NAPIT, we see that they recommend a different code for the issue. The codebreaker book lists this issue as being a C2 – POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS fault. If you follow the guidance laid out in this book, then the installation would be UNSATISFACTORY for continued use without remedial works.
Whilst I believe the NAPIT guidance is well intentioned, when testing myself I tend to lean towards the BPG4 thinking on this fault.
However, there is another inspection which deals with supplies for outdoor equipment. Any socket which has the potential to be used for outdoor equipment, even if via an extension lead (reasonably, obviously a 10th floor flat is unlikely to be using outdoor equipment!) would fall into this category, more of which can be read up about on the relevant page
Applicable Regulations to RCDs for all Sockets:
The regulation which applies to this particular inspection of confirmation that there is an RCD for all sockets is: 411.3.3
This regulation on periodic inspection & testing states: “Details of any damage, deterioriation, defects or dangerous conditions shall be recorded in a report“
The absence of an RCD for a specified socket may not even be a C3, if a documented risk assessment has taken place cover the omission of RCD protection.
It should be noted that this does not apply in domestic situations, it is more for supplies for dedicated pieces of equipment in a commercial/industrial setting.
If you are testing commercial premises, then it would be prudent to check for sure that risk assessments have actually been completed and documented as this is often not the case.