Electrical Safety Tips When Renovating Your Home

Electrical Safety Tips When Renovating Your Home

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Deciding to renovate your home is a big decision, and, while it can be a very exciting time, it can prove to be a workout on your wallet.

As renovations can be tough on your finances, you’re probably keen for some DIY work and are willing to save in manual labour as much as you can. While this can be a great idea, complying with legal requirements and safety should still be your main priority. While there are certainly lots of jobs that you can easily do on your own, electrical work is best left to the professionals.

In this post we will guide you through some of the essential safety procedures for a successful and secure electrical home renovation: what you can do, how you can do it, and what you should steer clear of.

WHAT YOU CAN SAFELY DO YOURSELF

Electricity is something we need and use in our daily lives constantly. Generally when we enjoy its benefits we experience no problems or hazards, but doing an electrical installation is a different story.

According to the current Australian Standard 3000:2007 “Electrical installations or Australian and New Zealand Wiring Rules”, all electrical work must meet or exceed these listed standards. This means that unless the work is done by a licensed electrician who knows these standards, your electrical work could be dangerous and also illegal.

Some of the things that are permitted for the average homeowner to do are:

  1.     Install garden lights.
  2.     Install pond pumps.
  3.     Install battery operated smoke detectors.
  4.     Install some self-contained solar lights.
  5.     Change and rewire old style fuses – however, it is usually better to have an electrician replace them with a circuit breaker.
  6.   Changing light bulbs – make sure you use correctly rated globes for your fitting, otherwise if you exceed the rating it may melt and potentially cause a fire.
  7.    Cut openings for portable air-conditioners, however you will need to have a licensed electrician connect them.
  8.    Fit an electric wall oven in a kitchen, but not connect it.
  9.    Replace a washing machine’s drive belt.

WHAT YOU SHOULD LEAVE TO THE PROFESSIONALS: FACTS AND TIPS

Because electrical work is heavily regulated by the Government, most jobs and installations (regardless of whether they are residential, commercial or industrial) need to be carried out by professional and licensed electricians.

The law defines an electrical job as the manufacturing, installing, testing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing or replacing any of electrical equipment. So if any of the mentioned above sounds like what you need to get done, you’ll have to get an electrician. When looking to hire, you must make sure they are fully qualified with a valid electrical licence.

Usually, nothing will go wrong just after the installation. This doesn’t mean problems, or even emergencies, won’t arise after constant use. It’s important to keep in mind that even a simple overheating of wires can cause a fire, so poor electrical installation can be a great hazard.

For insurance purposes, a qualified electrician’s work can be certified in case anything goes wrong down the track. A proper contractor should be licenced with a minimum $5 million of Public Liability insurance.

When overseeing the renovation of your home, you should be aware that there are some specific laws regarding certain rooms that use electricity and water, such as bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor spaces (including spas and swimming pools). In these areas, the electrical devices used and their installation is regulated so they can function safely. This type of work is definitely something that is best left to an electrician.

Some other examples of the things you can’t do unless qualified:

  •      Replace a light switch.
  •      Replace a light fitting with a ceiling fan.
  •      Make an extension cord or power board.
  •      Install or alter the location of a power point.
  •      Repair or test electrical appliances, such as heaters or electrical kitchen appliances.
  •      Replace a plug at the end of a lead.
  •      Replace a battery holder with a new light fitting.

THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

If you’re getting your house ready for the renovation process, are in the middle or have finished and are ready to enjoy your daily life again, there are certain things you should always have in mind when handling electrical wires or appliances. Here are some general safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Try not to bend any leads – keep them as straight as possible and out of the way, so that you don’t trip over. Not only could you have a nasty fall, but you could damage the lead.
  • Never use power boards or extension cords outside unless they are rated for this type of use. Contact with rain or extreme sun heat can cause damage and possibly a fire.
  • As long as you don’t overcharge them by piggybacking double adapters, power boards in Australia are generally safe as they have a safety switch that turns the power off if they become overused or overcharged. However, double adapters do not have this feature, and could be hazards. Many companies do not use them altogether, and in the state of Victoria double adapters cannot be used on building sites under a mandated industry standard.

Familiarize yourself with the fuse box. Sometimes, when the house is using more power than it can handle, it will shut down. Before calling an electrician, check the fuse box first and see if any switches are down. If that’s the case, pull them up to restore the power.

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