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Portable Appliance Testing

PAT – Portable Appliance Testing

(In service inspection and testing of electrical equipment)

1. What is PAT Testing / Portable Appliance Testing:

PAT is a term used to describe the examination of electrical equipment to ensure the equipment is in a safe condition to use.


2. How Frequently do I need to inspect and test my electrical equipment?

The frequency of inspection and testing depends upon the type of equipment and the environment it is used in. For example, a power tool, which is hand held and used on a construction site should be examined more frequently than a desk lamp in a hotel bedroom. For more detailed information please check out the website.

3. How is my business affected while conducting PAT?

The inspection and test of electrical equipment will involve isolating (unplugging) the item from the electrical source (socket). This will enable the Technician to conduct the inspection and testing safely and once complete he can re-plug the item back into the socket ready for use.

The Technician will normally unplug 1 item a time however in cases where extension leads are used the extension lead itself will require inspection and testing and therefore all items plugged into the extension lead will be unplugged 1st.

Prior to commencing PAT our Technicians will discuss with you a schedule to ensure minimal disruption. For larger premises a map of the building is useful to ensure no areas/rooms, with equipment for testing, are missed.

4. Risk Assessment and Method Statement

Our Technicians are briefed prior to attending your premises and will be provided with a Method Statement/Job sheet detailing any specific Risks/Requests. All our Technicians carry with them a Health and Safety Handbook and on site will complete a Risk Assessment log detailing the steps taken to minimise any associated risks to you or them.

5. What Happens when issues are found?

Any item deemed not safe to use will have a failed label applied and our Technician will advise our client on site. The Technician will also detail on the Job Sheet the failed item and will ask the client to initial their knowledge of the failed item. It is then the clients responsibility to either repair the item or have taken off site to ensure the item is no longer used. We can cut the plug off or cut the cable at the item end or other such measures as advised by our client.

6. Example of what we look for

Visual Inspection

Plug, Flex & Cable, Socket-outlet and Switches
  • Free from cracks and damage or sign of overheating
  • Flexible cable secure in its anchorage
  • The cable grip should be checked by firmly pulling and twisting the cable. No movement should be apparent
  • Pins not bent
  • No cardboard label on the bottom
  • Open plug, check correctly wired and terminals tight & correct fuse in place
  • Free from cuts, fraying and damage
  • Not in a location where it could be damaged, under a carpet, cause a trip hazard, or squeezed tightly between desks or jammed in a floor box.
  • Not too long, too short or in any other way unsatisfactory
  • No joints or connections that may render it unsuitable for use, such as taped joints
  • Only one flex connected into one plug (a 13Aplug is designed for one cable only- not two)
  • Long leads such as an extension reel or Vacuum cleaner lead, will be inspected throughout its length.
  • Socket-outlet should be free from cracks, other damage or signs of overheating
  • Plug not loose in socket-outlet and can be removed from socket without difficulty
  • No indiscriminate use of extension leads, daisy chained extensions leads or multiway adaptors
  • Cups or plants not placed where there contents could spill, or files on top of a PC etc
  • Charges should not be left plugged into a socket when not in use
  • Free from cracks, chemical or corrosion damage to the case, or damage that could result in access to live parts
  • No missing buttons/switches
  • No signs of overheating

Testing: A summary some of the tests carried as follows:

Earth continuity

Class 1 equipment, such as a kettle, reliant upon connection with earth for its safety. The most important test for class 1 equipment because the safety of the equipment depends upon a good connection with the means of earthing of the Fixed Installation.

Insulation Resistance

The insulation of an item is measured by applying a voltage and measuring the resistance. A low reading may indicate a failure in the Insulation of the item.

RCD Residual Current Device Test

Some Extension leads have RCD, or residual current device fitted . This can detect some but not all potential faults and will rapidly switch off the supply. The RCD has a test button which should be operated before each use. We can also test using our test instrument, however sometimes if your main fixed installation is RCD protected this test will result in the part of the relative circuit tripping!

7. Examples of what we find


Cable with two plugs

Customer tried to make an extension lead out of a spare socket outle/back box, a spare piece of an old lead and 2 plug tops!! Imagine one end plugged into a socket – the other plug end becomes live!


Open plug with silver foil as fuse

‘The fuse has been replaced with foil’


Two pin EU plug jammed into extension lead

This is a European style plug jammed into a 3 pin extension lead – an adaptor should be used first.


Multi adaptor overloaded

Overloading a multi adaptor can increase likelihood of fire by causing the wall socket to overheat and cause a fire.


Daisy chained extension leads

Never plug an extension lead into another extension lead again poses greater risk of overloading the wall socket and causing a fire.

Other issues we find

Cable worn as jammed between desks, holes in outer casing , smashed plug, manufacturers card covering screws left on plug top, missing knobs and buttons.

8. Online reporting system or paper reports / certificates

For those customer preferring laminated wall certificates and paper reports we can post or email. Some of our customers prefer ‘online & paperless’ in which case we can offer our online reporting system connecting customers to the ‘cloud’. A logon and password is provided and customers simply logon to access their account. Test results, Asset movement, reports in PDF, EXCEL, CSV, WORD etc can be generated along with a PAT Certificate.

For or larger customers such as NHS we can supply multiple logins with different levels of access so each login can view their own locations/items tested.






9. Where can I get more info?

There are many organisations with informative websites:

IET Code of Practice
IET code of practice


HSE maintaining portable

10. What are the deadliest household appliances?

For data on electrical items that have been re-called please go to the Electrical Safety Council website ‘’ – click on ‘guides and advice’

Data From the AOL money online 13 Jan 2014:

‘The washing machine, dishwasher and microwave may be life-savers when it comes to helping you escape the misery of domestic drudgery. However, if you’re unlucky then these life-saving household appliances can become killers.

So what are the deadliest household appliances?

Around 70 people are killed every year, and 350,000 people are injured, as a result of a fire caused by an electrical appliance. These may be faulty models, or they may be used incorrectly – the figures show that most of the problem is misuse, but in 2012 alone almost 8,000 fires were the result of faults.

Either way it’s worth being aware of the risks: so the Electrical Safety Council has listed the appliances most likely to cause fires.

1. Ovens

Cooking appliances including ovens and microwaves account for the most fires and injuries in the UK. In 2012 they started almost 12,000 fires, causing almost 1,500 injuries, and 10 deaths. There are models with flaws which can cause the fires, but often this is a case of misuse.

2. Wiring and plugs

They may seem so simple that they cannot cause problems, but faulty or ageing wiring and plugs – or too many plugs in a single adapter can easily start a fire. They were responsible for 3,899 fires in 2012, causing 223 injuries and ten deaths.

One major culprit is overloading sockets. With more gadgets than ever in the home, often the minimum number that are added as standard are not enough, so we overload each socket with adapters and extension cables. The Norfolk Fire Service advises “If in doubt, pull it out”. The rule is one plug per socket, especially if the appliance takes a lot of power (like a kettle).

3. Washing machines and tumble dryers

A Which? survey actually claimed that washing machines and tumble dryers are the biggest fire risk of all. They caused 83 fires and 80 injuries in 2012.

Most fires here are the result of faults. Sometimes electrical wiring shorts and causes a fire, alternatively the friction of an incorrectly revolving drum can cause sparks. A lint build-up in a dryer can also contribute to the risks.

4. Lighting

Faulty sockets, poorly installed lights, loose ‘chocolate boxes’ where light fittings are attached to the wires, and faulty side lamps or night lights can all cause electrical fires.

However, you also have to watch for where bulbs can come into contact with light shades. A knock can cause the bulb to touch the side of the shade, and the heat will eventually lead to a fire. In 2012 lighting caused to 767 fires, 74 injuries and one death.

5. Dishwashers

These caused 475 fires and 68 injuries in 2012. The government’s fire statistics show that overwhelmingly these were caused by faulty products rather than misuse, and the experts stress that this is why it’s so important that we don’t leave these appliances running while we go out, just in case a fault develops.’