Should You Fix Electrical Problems Yourself?
The Simple Answer is no, and here’s why
The recent COVID-19 lockdowns have seen an increase in home renovations and DIY (do it yourself) projects. While doing it yourself is okay for many things around your home, electrical fixes are not one of them. In Australia, DIY electrical work is dangerous and illegal and should only be done by a qualified electrician.
The dangers of DIY electrics
Electrical safety in the home is something everyone should take seriously, and the NSW Government’ Electrical Safety page covers a lot of information including why you should think twice about DIY electrical. By doing electrical work yourself you can:
Put yourself, your household, or tenants at risk of injury or death.
Destroy your property through faulty work and electrical fires.
Void your insurance policy and product warranties.
Qualified electricians are required to:
Wire any part of your property.
Install, replace, or move power points.
Install, replace, or move lights and switches.
Install or replace ceiling fans.
Carry out any electrical maintenance.
What electrical work can I do myself?
If you are not a licensed and qualified electrician, your choices for legally completing electrical work are limited in Australia. If you do decide to go ahead, here is a guide created by the team at Real Electrical Solutions, based in Newcastle, NSW, to help with some basic home electrical problems.
The first thing to do is to make sure that the source of power is turned off before doing any of these projects to limit your risk of electrical shock. After that, here’s how you perform some simple electrical tasks:
Change a fuse
Make sure it’s the right fuse and that the power is turned off when you are replacing it with the correct amperage fuse.
Change blown light bulbs
Make sure the switch is turned off and that you have the correct replacement bulb; wattage, base, and colour that you want to use.
Changing the battery, which is a backup in case of power failure, you can also install battery operated smoke alarm/detectors.
Low voltage garden lighting
There’s not much electrical wiring to do, simply lay the cable where you’re wanting the lights, connect to the transformer/power point, and turn it on. As most outdoor lighting is low voltage there’s less risk of serious electrical shock.
Install pond pumps
Ensure your pond pump’s cord can reach an outdoor power point and that you’ve placed it correctly into your pond. You also need to ensure that you cover the power cord to negate tripping hazards. Bunnings has a great DIY instruction article on how to install pond pumps.
Replace a drive belt in a washing machine
There are many DIY articles and videos that show you how to perform this task, the most important though is to make sure you have unplugged your machine from the wall outlet and disconnected the water.
Fit an electrical wall oven
Some wall ovens are plug in while others need to be hardwired in, you are allowed to place the oven where it needs to go however, if it needs to be hardwired then you need a qualified electrician from a reputable company such as Real Electrical Solutions.
Create an opening for AC units
Making sure your mains power is turned off before you cut into your walls is essential so that you don’t accidentally shock yourself if you cut through a cable. In case of accidentally cutting any wires, call an electrician immediately and do not turn your mains back on until it is safe to do so.
Re-wire old-style fuses
As long as you are replacing the fuse wire with wire of the same gauge you do not need to call in an electrician.
Risks of DIY electrical work
As previously mentioned, without having the knowledge, tools, and experience that qualified and licensed electricians do you are putting not only yourself but everyone else in the house at risk of injury or death.
1. Electric shock or electrocution – Unlike in the USA where electricity is only 110 volts, Australian electricity is 240 volts which is plenty to result in death. Forgetting to switch off the mains to where you’re working or even the power point can result in a painful experience, even when changing a light bulb.
2. Fire hazards – Fire Safety Australia states that around a fifth of recorded fires in Australia are from electrical fires which are commonly caused from faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, faulty connections, or the wrong gauge of wire. These issues can lead to overheating, sparks, or a fire which rapidly spread.
3. Voiding product warranties and your insurance – Many electrical appliances have warranties that specifically state that unless installed by a qualified and licensed electrician you are voiding your warranty. Doing your own electrical work affects your home insurance cover, home and contents insurance companies will also not recognise work done by an unlicensed electrician. If you choose to do the work yourself you are putting your biggest investment, your home, at risk.
4. Massive penalties for DIY electrical work – the penalties vary from state to state but can be as high as $40,000 for individuals and up to $200,000 - or 3 years’ imprisonment, if deaths or injuries result.
Benefits of hiring an Electrician
As we’ve covered, DIY electrical work is dangerous and carries heavy fines, especially if you’re not a qualified and licensed electrician. When hiring an electrician, you should make sure that they have a current license and will provide you with a Certificate of Compliance for the work they carry out, as well as their own public liability insurance which will not only protect them in case of a mistake or injury, but also protect you as the homeowner from liability.
Choose Real Electrical Solutions to your electrical problems
Hiring a qualified electrician through Real Electrical Solutions, will not only give you peace of mind knowing that your electrical work has been done correctly, but you can also rest assured knowing that you haven’t broken any laws or regulations.
Our certified electricians are ready to help you overcome the DIY electrical urge and get your wiring done right the first time. Contact Real Electrical Solutions today to discuss your home renovation projects on 0403 306 842 or through our online chat!