Basic electrical work may seem fairly straightforward, in fact, you can probably find a youtube video on how to do just about any electrical job if you look long enough. In some countries it would seem that to carry out your own electrical work is ok, in Australia, however, it is against the law to have a crack at anything more involved than changing a light bulb or resetting the safety switch.
Why not DIY?
There are several reasons not to have a go at replacing a dodgy power point, installing that funky new light fitting you bought on the weekend, or any electrical work for that matter.
DIY – abbreviation meaning – Do It Yourself (or Destroy It Yourself, Damage It Yourself)
The first is electrical safety. Even if you think your power point replacement was textbook perfect, while you’re busy congratulating yourself on a job well done with a big high five for saving on an electrician there could be a tiny fault in the wiring which may potentially lead to overheating creating a dangerous fire or electric shock hazard.
The issue may not be evident for months or even years but the risk of injury or death from DIY electrical is very real. Licenced electricians must check their work and the electrical systems associated with it to ensure everything is safe.
The second is it’s illegal in NSW (in fact the whole of Australia) to carry out electrical work without a licence. Fines of up to $22,000 can be charged for individuals doing any unlicenced electrical work in Sydney. That alone should be incentive enough to call an electrician.
Thirdly, you’ll most likely void your home and contents or house insurance. If an accident happens or a fire occurs and it is found to be as a result of the electrical work you or an unlicenced person carried out in your home your insurance will probably not cover the damages.
When to call an electrician?
Clearly, if your home has no power and all the surrounding houses are lit up like Christmas tree’s it’s time to call an electrician (here’s the number of a great one in Sydney 1300 669 135), however, some electrical faults are not so obvious at first.
20 years ago homes had nowhere near the electrical demand that they do today. As a consequence of this many older homes struggle with the large load of modern appliances. It’s a common feature in older homes to have only one power point per room which is now used to power 3 to 5 appliances. This can lead to overheating, shorting, and potentially fire for a variety of reasons.
Another issue in homes over 20 years old is over time the insulation covering electrical wiring can degrade exposing the wires which creates a fire or electrical safety risk. Your electrician can test the wiring in your home for electrical faults and hot spots, identifying areas which may require rewiring or system upgrades.
Burn marks or discolouration of power points
Burn marks, discolouration, or melted areas on power points can signify dangerous overheating which can be due to a range of issues from an overloaded circuit or arching to an old worn power outlet.
If you need to use a double adaptor to plug all your appliances ask your electrician to upgrade the outlet to a double or add an extra power point in the room to avoid these issues. If you notice a burn mark on a power point discontinue using it until it can be checked by a licenced electrician.
Regular tripping or power outs
Ongoing power interruptions in your home can be very annoying but they can also signal the need for an electrical checkup. The cause could be anything from vermin, gecko’s or insects in the electrical systems to faulty wiring, water getting into the electrical components, or faulty electrical appliances.
Do your lights dim or flicker sometimes? This can signify the electrical systems may be struggling to cope with the current demand. Speak to your electrician about recommended upgrades to your electrical systems.
The lessons to be learnt
The long and the short of it is don’t DIY any electrical work in your home or business, call a licenced electrician, every time it’s not worth the risk. Plus, if any of the above is happening in your home, get your local electrician to do an electrical check to get to the bottom of electrical faults before they become big issues.
More information can be found on electrical work in NSW on the NSW Fair Trading website – fairtrading.nsw.gov.au