EICR Observation Codes Explained

EICR Observation Codes
Daniel Hanslip

Inspection and testing of any electrical installation is essential at appropriate intervals to maintain the safety of users, whether this be in commercial properties or residential homes, and it’s important to understand what the EICR observation codes reported mean.

As all electrical installations deteriorate with time, an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) carried out by a qualified electrical engineer will help to determine wear and tear, corrosion, damage, excessive loading, and external influences that may affect the overall safety of the system.

EICR Observation Codes will be recorded during the process of the report and coded appropriately in terms of their severity and danger level. It may even be possible that items found to present immediate danger will need to be identified with the client straightaway and in some cases switched off and isolated until such time that the installation is remedied.

The EICR observations will be coded C1, C2, C3 and FI accordingly.

So, what do these observation codes mean?

A Code 1 (C1) observation means ‘Danger Present’. This code means that there is a risk of injury and immediate remedial action is required. The person using the electrical installation will need to be advised to take immediate action without delay.

Examples of types of C1 codes are:

  • exposed live parts are accessible to touch
  • conductive parts have become live as a result of the fault
  • incorrect polarity

A Code 2 (C2) observation means ‘Potentially Dangerous’. This code means that there is no immediate threat, but it is likely to become a danger in the future and so urgent remedial action is required to remove the potential danger.

Examples of types of C2 codes are:

  • absence of a reliable and effective means of earthing
  • a metallic pipe being used for gases or flammable liquids
  • a metallic pipe of a water utility supply being used for earthing

A Code 3 (C3) observation means ‘Improvement Recommended’. This code means that a non-compliance with the current safety standard has been revealed. While this does not present immediate or potential danger, it would result in a significant safety improvement if remedied.

Examples of types of C3 codes are:

  • absence of an RCD periodic test notice
  • absence of a ‘Safety Electrical Connection – Do Not Remove’ notice
  • socket outlet mounted in a position that may result in potential damage to socket/plug/flex

A Code FI observation means ‘Further Investigation required without delay’. These are observations that are departures from the requirements of the current edition of BS 7671 and therefore need to be recorded separately as FI.

Examples of types of FI codes are:

  • use of unsheathed flex for lighting pendants
  • cable core colours complying with a previous edition of BS 7671
  • circuits that are not verified at the time of testing

Where an EICR contains either a C1, C2 or FI observation then it is not reasonable for the installation to be assessed as ‘satisfactory’ for continued use and will therefore be categorised as ‘unsatisfactory’.

However, if there are C3s on the report then it is entirely down to the decision of the customer if any action is taken.

It does not make any difference how many C3s are on the report either, it is merely important to be advised where you stand with regards to the current installation and what has been recommended.

How often do I require an EICR?

View our EICR ‘what you need to know’ guide for more information about the required frequencies of electrical inspections for different types of business.

To book an Electrical Installation Condition Report call 0800 909 8882 or request a quote online.

If you have a technical background, NAPIT has a written a useful guide to the EICR codes.