What is an electrical certificate of compliance? What do you need it for? How do you get it? If these are some of the questions you find yourself thinking about, you’re in luck. We’ve put together this useful guide on what you need to know about staying on the right side of the electrical certificate of compliance regulations in South Africa.
What is a Certificate of Compliance (COC)?
An electrical compliance certificate is proof that all electrical systems and installations in your home are in good working order, safe and up to regulation standards.
This certificate is legal proof that a qualified electrician has inspected your home, and that your electrical installation was found on the date of inspection to be compliant with all the legal requirements as laid out in the Electrical Installations Occupational Health and Safety Act of South Africa.
Why do I need a Certificate of Compliance?
Electricity, just like water and gas, can ‘leak’. This leaking current is potentially lethal as it can electrocute you if you touch the leaking appliance.
The earth leakage relay is supposed to monitor for leaking current going directly (or indirectly) to earth. If this exceeds a certain value, the earth leakage relay will trip and disconnect the current flow. This is why it is so important that all circuits are properly earthed in order to ensure that the earth leakage relay would operate as intended in case of an emergency.
The onus is on the homeowner (seller) to ensure that a faulty or non-compliant electrical installation in their house is not a danger to any person, animal or to property. Should an injury or incident occur and there is no COC in place, the homeowner will be held liable and the insurance on the house could be declared null and void. This means that as the homeowner, you will bear the cost of any damages incurred.
Who needs a Certificate of Compliance?
A valid electrical certificate is a legal requirement, which means that any person who owns any type of electrical installation should hold a valid compliance certificate.
You will need a certificate of compliance if you are selling your house. Before your home is placed on the market, you should have it inspected to ensure all electrical elements are properly installed and working correctly. Any aspect that is problematic should be removed or remedied.
In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) no person may market, sell, let, or supply an electrical installation that is unsafe. This means that the Seller of a property is obligated to obtain a COC before transfer of the property may occur. The certificate must be issued by a qualified electrician, and must meet regulatory requirements.
Can a property be transferred without a Certificate of Compliance?
Sellers are responsible for providing certificates of compliance (CoC), but buyers also need to know what they entail. When you sell a property you need to provide compliance certificates for electrical, gas and electric fence installations before the property can be transferred to the new owner.
What is checked during the inspection for an electrical Certificate of Compliance?
Checks required by electrician
The electrical certificate inspection will require an electrician to check
- Everything in the main distribution board and any sub-boards, circuit breakers and earth leakage
- The earthing system and its connectivity throughout the installation
- Proper bonding of all metal components (such as antennas and satellite dishes)
- The socket outlets and light switches;
- All isolators for fixed appliances (such as air-conditioning)
- All the cables from the mains incoming point to the main distribution board
- All the cabling from the distribution boards to switches and plugs (including the wall plugs and light switches, through to the connection at the lights)
- All circuits and wiring to any fixed appliances, even if they are plugged into a wall socket (excluding the actual appliance itself)
- The positioning of electrical equipment (such as light switches and plugs that are not allowed to be within a certain distance of taps, shower, baths etc.)
- The mains switch and its accessibility within a certain height from the floor in case of emergencies.
Responsibilities of the electrician
During this inspection, the electrician is responsible for ensuring that all electrical equipment is:
- Approved by SABS or holds other relevant approvals
- Of the correct type and rating for the application
- Installed in an approved manner
- Securely attached in place and suitably protected from children
- In good working order (which includes functional safety features)
- The electrician will also take various readings to ensure that voltages, insulation, earthing, and other values adhere to regulatory requirements.
- The distribution board is the operational centre of your home’s electrical installations. From here, the incoming supply to your mains are further split into various circuits for plugs and lights.
- Circuit breakers protect against overload and short circuit faults (without which you could run the risk of electrical fires). The circuit breakers and wire size must be correctly rated according to the maximum amount of electricity that the connected circuit can be expected to carry.
- The earth leakage on the distribution board protects against potential electrocution situations.
- Minimum regulations require that the main switch must be easily accessible in case of emergencies.
How much does an Electrical Certificate of Compliance cost?
The price of the inspection is normally a fixed fee but the total cost depends on whether or not repairs need to take place to make the installation compliant. The inspecting electrician will inform you of any red flags and possible issues that must be addressed to bring the installation in line with regulatory requirements. In addition to this fault list, the electrician will provide a full quotation for work required to ensure compliance.
Here, there are two choices:
- Accept the quote so that the electrician can carry out the work and issue the certificate of compliance on completion. OR
- Appoint another qualified electrician to perform the work and issue the COC.
Please remember: Electricians cannot issue COCs based on the work of others as the certificate also serves as a guarantee on the materials used and workmanship provided.
The inspection fee is a consultation fee, and not a certificate fee.
What is the validity period for an electrical Certificate of Compliance?
The electrical installation regulations state that a compliance certificate is valid for two years for purposes of transfer.
- A CoC is valid for the lifetime of an installation but excludes maintenance items.
- If any alterations have been done to the electrical installation, it is necessary to obtain a supplementary CoC.
You will need to obtain an electrical certificate of compliance where you are selling your house, or if you have made any changes or additions to the electrical installation of your home. Without such a certificate, the transfer of the property to the new owner is not possible, Furthermore, if any damages are caused to any person, animal or property as a result of electrical faults in your home, the insurance will not pay out unless there is a valid certificate of compliance in place.
Your home’s electrical installation can only be inspected for compliance by a qualified electrician. There is a fixed fee for the inspection, after which repairs/maintenance will need to be carried out to rectify any problems and bring the installation up to code.
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