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Safe method of isolation.

The recommended procedure for proving dead and safe isolation should be by use of a test lamp or two pole voltage detector as recommended in HSE Guidance Note GS38 regulations.
Non-contact voltage indicators and multi-meters should not be used. The test instrument should be proved to be working on a known live source or proprietary proving unit before and after use. All phases of the supply and the neutral should be tested and proved dead before any work is commenced by a qualified electrician.

Test sequence and descriptions of test procedures.

The following tests are carried out with the main board / Consumers main switch isolated

1. Extenal earth fault loop impedance (ohms)

Reason: To establish that a good earth exists at the electrical installation in order for the remaining tests to go ahead.

Method: Disconnect the main earthing conductor from the main earthing terminal at the main distribution board. An earth fault loop impedance tester is connected at line and earth (main earthing conductor) at the supply side of the electrical installation and a test performed. Reconnect the main earthing conductor. The result is Ze and recorded on the test sheet. The prospective fault current is measured at the same time after the reconnection of the main earthing conductor at the main board.

2. Continuity of protective and equipotental bonding conductors

Reason: To check that all circuit protective conductors are continuous and are present at every electrical outlet / accessory on the circuit. Also to check that the main earthing conductor and main bonding conductors are continuous and correctly connected at the terminals.

Method 1: The line conductor is connected to the circuit protective conductor of the same circuit at the consumer unit and a measurement taken at ALL accesories on that circuit between line and c.p.c. The highest measurement obtained is recorded on the test report. 
Test result is R1 + R2. The line conductor and neutral conductor are then connected and the above repeated to obtain R1 + Rn

Method 2 (used for main earth and main bonding conductors): A wandering lead is connected to one end of the conductor to be tested and a measurement taken between the other end of this lead and the other end of the conductor. 
Test result is R2.
During this test polarity can be checked as well. The continuity of the neutral conductor can also be checked to determine R2.

3. Continuity of ring final circuit conductors

Reason: This test ensures that all ring final circuits are indeed a continuous ring with no interconnects or breaks within it.

Method: The line, neutral and earth conductors of the circuit are identified and a measurement from one end to the other end of each is taken. These results are r1, r2 and rn. 
The incoming line conductor is then connected to the outgoing earth conductor and the outgoing line conductor is connected to the incoming earth conductor. A measurement is then taken at ALL socket outlets on the ring. The highest of which is recorded on the report. 
This result is R1+R2 for that circuit. The above is then repeated using the neutral conductor instead of the earth conductor. This test provides R1+Rn which does not need to be recorded on the report but is essential to check the circuit correctly.

4. Insulation Resisitance testing

Reason: This test checks whether the insulation around a cable is still intact and has not broken down over time or has been separated from the rest of the ring. It is a good indicator of the age of an installation.

Method: An insulation resistance tester is connected across line and neutral tails at the origin of the supply. 500V are then pumped down the conductors to see if any voltage leaks across from one conductor to the other. The same is then done for the line and earth and the earth and neutral conductors.

5. Polarity checks

Reason: To check that all accesories are correctly connected to line, neutral and earth and that all switches and circuit breakers are connected in the line conductor only.

Method: The method for this is the same as for continuity and is usually done at the same time by operating switches etc whilst conducting the test.

6. Earth electrode resistance

Reason: To make sure that any earth electrode used is of a sufficiently low impedance to allow the timely operation of the RCD protecting the installation.

Method: An earth fault loop impedance tester is connected between line and earth at the origin of the supply and a test performed. The result of which is considered the resistance of the electrode (Ra).

The following tests are carried out with the Consumers main switch switch in the on position

7. Live polarity testing

Reason: To verify polarity of supply authorities system.

Method: An approved voltage indicator shall be used or test lamp to GS38. Using the approved voltage indicator, one probe shall be placed on the incoming neutral, and the other on the incoming line conductor, on the main breaker. The indicator should show it is live. One probe shall now be placed on the CPC and the other on the incoming line conductor. The indicator should show it is live. A test shall be preformed between CPC & incoming neutral. The indicator should show that it is not live.

8. Earth fault loop impedance

Reason: This test is done at the furthest point on a circuit in order to make sure the impedance of the earth path is not too high even at the furthest point so that sufficient current will flow under fault conditions to take out the circuit breaker protecting the circuit.

Method: An earth fault loop impedance tester is connected to line and earth at the furthest point on the circuit and the test performed.

9. RCD testing

Reason: To make sure RCD's trip within the correct time

Method: An RCD tester is connected and a test at 1/2 times, 1 times and 5 times the trip current is performed on each side of the cycle and a time of trip obtained. Usually milli-seconds with the highest being recorded. The manual test button is then pressed.

10. Functional testing

Reason: To make sure all switches, isolators, MCB's etc. work as they should.

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