Maintenance Services Electrical - News & Information 

Improving indoor air quality 

04/01/22 
 
On 15 December the amended Part Fof the Building Regulations was approved. It is intended to specify ventilation requirements to maintain indoor air quality. 
 
It’s part of a number of changes to Building Regulations to support the Future Homes Standard and help to achieve the government’s Net Zero target by 2050. 
 

The means of ventilation 

Part F will be used alongside the amended Part L concerning the conservation of fuel and power. Part L was first published in 2010 and has also been amended to help ensure new homes use almost a third less carbon. 
amended Part F of the Building Regulations is about ventilation and air quality
As our buildings become more airtight to improve energy efficiency steps are also needed to maintain indoor air quality. The new Part F will promote low carbon ventilation as an industry standard and improve the quality of the air we breathe. 
 

Airtight homes 

Part F now includes a section about ‘Installing Energy Efficiency Measures’ for existing properties. This requires an assessment of additional ventilation that might be needed, based on the estimated impact of energy efficiency work. 
 
Previously some energy efficiency measures have increased airtightness but have also resulted in homes experiencing problems with condensation, mould and poor indoor air quality. The additional section will encourage home owners and installers to consider the risks of indoor air pollution when planning improved energy efficiency. 
 

New builds 

For new residential homes more advanced ventilation will be needed, such as Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) and Continuous Mechanical Extract Ventilation instead of traditional natural ventilation. Natural ventilation will only be suitable for homes that are designed to a minimum standard of air permeability. 
 
Housebuilders will need to specify continuous mechanical extraction units that will provide suitable airflow and low noise levels for whole house ventilation. 
 

Healthy environments 

The pandemic has highlighted the need for good ventilation to reduce virus transmission. Part F will also introduce improvements to ventilation in new non-residential properties to reduce the spread of airborne viruses, especially for indoor sports, gyms, performance and educational spaces. New buildings should also include indoor air quality monitoring such as CO2 monitors, possibly with traffic light signals and alarms. 
 
Please get in touch to discuss the electrical installation requirements for your ventilation project. 

Materials and recruitment challenges for 2022 

copper wire is one of the materials expected to be in short supply in 2022
14/12/21 
 
The team at MSE expects to remain busy in 2022. We are aware that continuing materials shortages could lead to delays and increased costs and we will discuss any issues with you before planning your project. 
 
Electricians’ views about 2022 
A recent study asked electricians what they expected in the year ahead. Overall, there was optimism, but there was also awareness of the challenges we will face. 
 
One in five think 2022 will be a better year and there was general confidence that things will improve. Many believe their companies will recover from the pandemic by 2023 with more work and better job security. Many are looking to expand and recruit new members of staff. 
 
However, almost a quarter are expecting some challenges in the year ahead. The limited availability and rising cost of materials are the main concerns. Recruitment is also expected to be difficult because there are more vacancies than qualified professionals. 
 
Younger electricians are more worried about recruitment while their older colleagues are focussing on the rising cost of materials and the availability of tools and equipment. 
 

Plan your project early 

installation sector, and we can expect some more challenges ahead. 
 
However, like many of the electricians who took part in this study we have a positive outlook for the next 12 months. We are ready to find creative solutions to any problems that arise and will be happy to work with you to plan and implement your electrical installation projects
 
Please get in touch to discuss your requirements as soon as possible. 
A new welding bay installed for MSE clients in Daventry

New welding bay 

23/11/21 
 
We recently completed a state of the art welding facility for one of our long-standing industrial clients in Daventry. 
 
They are specialist producers of vehicle exhaust and powertrain systems and components. 
 
Their new installation was needed thanks to the growing demand from their prestigious customer base. 

Electrical safety and welding 

There are quite a few risks in a welding environment. Most importantly, the lack of oxygen in a confined space and the fire risks associated with welding gasses make emergency cut offs for power a priority. 
 
The arc welding process requires a live electrical circuit so operators using hand-held equipment face the risk of electric shocks and burns, although other types of metal inert gas or metal active gas (MIG/MAG) or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding represent less of a risk as the current is normally switched on and off using the trigger or foot switch. 
 
Fixed welding equipment should always be installed by a qualified person and connected according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Insulation on the welding and current return leads, plugs, clamps or torch/electrode holder must not be damaged and all the connectors must also be correctly rated for the current used. 
Emergency cut offs for power in indoor welding bays is a priority
Substantial stray welding currents can return along paths other than the welding return cable, and this is more likely to happen if the welding return path has high electrical resistance. Ideally, the current return path should be as short as possible to minimise risk. 
 
When using three-phase welding circuits or single-phase circuits using different phases of the mains supply, welding positions connected to different phases or transformers should be separated to reduce the possibility of electric shock. 
 
Welding personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t designed to prevent electric shock and, although it can provide some protection, damp or contaminated clothing will have less resistance, increasing the risk. 
 
Regular checks and maintenance of welding equipment are important too. 
 
Please get in touch to discuss your industrial electrical installation and maintenance requirements. 

Brighter, cheaper lighting  12/11/21  When a site is used around the clock like this space that handles customer returns, good quality lighting is essential.  It was genuinely too dark to take a ‘before’ picture of this location, but after we had removed 99 fluorescent units rated at 174W each and replaced them with 89 energy efficient 57W LED units the difference was clear to see.  That represents a saving of more than 56 tonnes of CO2 and the investment will have paid for itself in less than 10 months. For our clients their new lighting will provide an annual saving of almost £14,750.  

Emergency lighting 

We also installed emergency escape route wiring and lighting so that everyone can find their way to safety if there’s a fire or power cut for example. 
 
Emergency lights should stay on for between one and three hours as a failsafe system in case there’s a power cut, and they are a safety requirement for businesses. They help anyone in the building make their way to an exit safely and, once power is back on, the emergency lights should recharge. 
 
As well as lighting for routes to fire escapes and emergency exits there are three other types of emergency lighting. 
Open area emergency lighting provides enough light for people to escape from larger, open indoor spaces in an emergency. 
High-risk task area lighting is for areas where people are working with tools or operating machinery and will give people like fork lift truck drivers, for example, time to stop working, switch off machinery, and move to a safe place. 
Standby lighting powered by a diesel generator, for example, will keep lights operating until power can be restored. This isn’t a legal requirement but will allow operations to continue during a power cut. 
 
Additional emergency lighting and signs are needed in areas with extra risks such as stairwells, where floor levels change, toilets, intersections in corridors and where the direction of an escape route changes. 
 

Types of emergency lighting 

Emergency lighting systems can be self-contained with single point power sources for each unit or they can be powered by a central battery. Installation is cheaper and faster for self-contained units that don’t need additional hardware or wiring; however, battery life is limited and their operation can be affected by humidity or heat. Central battery power sources are more straightforward to test and maintain but will cost more to instal. 
 
Emergency lights should be fully tested at least annually, and sometimes more frequently depending on your site and operations, to be sure they operate as expected and for the required period. A daily visual inspection of a centrally powered system will show that everything is operational. All systems should have a monthly test to be sure that the emergency lighting comes on when the power is off. 
 
Please get in touch about the installation, maintenance and testing of emergency lighting for your business premises. 

Electrical supplies for radon extraction 

27/10/21 
 
We’ve been working all over the country alongside Radon Protection UK to provide power supplies for radon extraction equipment. 
 
One of the most common methods used to reduce the indoor levels of radon in the UK is an exterior radon sump. 
 
These sumps, built outside the property, will be specifically designed by the Radon Protection team according to your property and existing levels of radon. 
 
There are a lot of things to consider, including the size, layout and history of the property, the materials used in the building, and the existing electrical connections, so a site survey will be needed. 
A radon sum installed outside your property vents the gas
Active radon sumps are powered by an electric fan and they will reduce even the highest radon levels. 
 
The pipework and extraction fan are typically installed on an outside wall, venting the gas into the atmosphere. A single sump would be enough for an average sized home. 
 

Why radon extraction is needed 

Radon is a gas which occurs naturally, although you won’t know it’s there because it’s colourless and odourless. Because it’s formed by the decay of small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in rocks and soils it is radioactive. 
 
Every building contains some radon but the levels are usually low. The chances of a higher level being discovered will depend on the land where your property is built. Radon produces very small radioactive particles and when you breathe them in the radiation can damage your lungs. 
Testing is needed to find out whether you need to take action to reduce the level of radon in your home. 
 

Garden lighting for the winter 

15/10/21 
 
You can still enjoy your garden in the winter and well-chosen lighting can create impressive effects during the longer evenings. 
 
You can experiment with some sample light fittings to see what works best and, with some good planning, you can paint your garden with light. 
 
This recent project looked stunning with frosted marker lights on the decking to create just the right atmosphere, complementing the existing wall lights on the property. Some slim black low voltage spike lights throughout the garden added more interest, picking out favourite trees and other features. There were also some oak-finished bollards and tiny cube lights for the poolside decking to add another dimension. 
A well-lit house exterior allows you to enjoy your garden in winter.

Tips for garden lighting 

You might want to add additional outdoor lighting for safety and security, or as an added garden feature at night, so you can admire your outdoor spaces. 
 
Adding lights on your driveway can be welcoming and improve safety on dark evenings, helping you to avoid trips and falls. It’s an especially good idea for garden steps. 
 
However, you won’t want too many bright lights or colours, which could spoil your enjoyment and upset your neighbours. 
 
When you have planned the type and position of your garden lights, you will also need to consider the electrical wiring, timing, and switches. You might want your lights to come on at dusk, for example, or to be able to switch on single zones in your front or back gardens at different times. 
 
If you are planning a garden makeover, we’ll be happy to work with your landscaper. If you just want to add some extra outdoor illumination talk to us about samples or if you have any questions.  
 
Electrical installations must be managed in high risk buildings like these high-rise apartments

Guidance for electrical safety in higher-risk buildings 

01/10/21 
 
The Electrical Safety Roundtable has created new guidance on how to manage electrical systems within higher-risk buildings (HRBs) which will be launched on 18 October. 
 
Back in 2019 Dame Judith Hackett, the former Health and Safety Executive Chairperson who headed the review following the Grenfell fire, urged trades and professionals working on HRBs to move ahead with plans to improve competencies rather than wait for the government to introduce new regulations. 

New guidance for electrical systems in HRBs 

The document contains over 100 pages of information for people responsible for managing risk and safety in HRBs. It has been created in collaboration with over 25 expert organisations to highlight the importance of managing and monitoring electrical systems in these buildings to reduce risks for tenants. 
 
The guidance recognises that effective risk management for electrical installations is complex and promotes the need to review current practices to improve safety. 
 

The Electrical Safety Round Table 

The Electrical Safety Roundtable is an industry forum which aims to provide ground-breaking research and policy recommendations to the government and industry. It also provides independent electrical and home safety guidance for consumers. 
 
It was originally founded in response to concern about the need for competent registered electricians and adequate enforcement of the Building Regulations. The Roundtable is now a permanent organisation with over 50 industry members looking at electrical safety in the home, the workplace and across social housing. 

Electrics explained 

The electrical world is full of letters and terms – here we explain some of them. 
 
If the term you’re looking for isn’t here, please get in touch and we will be happy to tell you about it and add a simple explanation to our list. 
 
AC - an abbreviation for alternating current. Electricity is all about electrons travelling through a conductor (like copper). When electrons alternately move in different directions it is an alternating current. AC current us used for homes and businesses. 
 
DC – an abbreviation for direct current where the electrons are all moving in the same direction. DC current is used to charge batteries, for electronic systems, some industrial processes and high voltage power transmission. 
 
Amp – the unit for measuring electrical current. 
 
BS7671 – the UK national safety standard for electrical installations, also known as the wiring regulations. 
 
Circuit – electricity needs to flow continuously, without any breaks, and this is called a circuit. 
 
Consumer unit – used to control electricity. The unit will often include a main switch, fuses, circuit breakers or residual current devices (RCDs). 
 
Current – the more electrons travelling through the conductor, the more power they deliver. Large electrical currents are dangerous. 
 
Earth – the earth wire will direct the electricity straight into the ground rather than passing through you. Earth wires are usually marked with yellow and green striped plastic covers. 
 
Fuse – a key part at the beginning of an electrical circuit to prevent too much electricity from passing through wiring. Often a circuit breaker will cut power when something is overloaded to prevent the cable and equipment overheating and becoming a fire hazard. 
 
Insulation – a coating, usually plastic, around conducting materials. 
 
IP rating – categorisation of safe lighting. For example, high IP ratings are for bathrooms or outside and lower IP ratings are for indoor lighting. 
 
Joule – the unit for measuring electrical energy. 
 
Live – a wire carrying electricity, commonly coated in brown plastic (note - older systems might include live wires covered with red plastic). You can receive an electrical shock from live wires. 
 
Neutral – a neutral wire completes an electrical circuit and allows electrons to flow. Neutral wires are usually covered in blue plastic (note - older systems might use a black plastic covering). 
 
Part P – a section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales about electrical installations in domestic properties. 
 
Transformer – used to change voltage, to dim lighting for example. 
 
Voltage – the unit for measuring the force of electricity moving through wires. High voltage locations are often marked as dangerous. 
 
Watt – a unit to measure electrical power. 
 
 
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