DIY projects and renovations have become common place in many Australian homes, but when it comes to DIY electrical work, the message is clear - leave it to the experts. DIY electrical is not only dangerous, it’s illegal. Unless you are a qualified electrician you should never attempt to:
- Wire any part of your home
- Install or move powerpoints
- Install or move lights and switches
- Install ceiling fans
- Carry out any electrical maintenance other than changing a light globe
You can access more information about the dos and don’ts of DIY electrical work here.
Always get a qualified electrician to do an electrical safety check of your home before renovations begin.
When it comes to extension cords and plugs you should make sure:
- You use an extension lead that is appropriate for the power loading you need.
- Check that it has three prongs and is approved to Australian Standards. Extension cords with only two prongs are not ‘earthed’ and are potentially fatal.
- Fully unwind electrical cords so they don’t overheat.
- Never use more than one double adaptor in a single power point and don’t overload powerboards.
Common DIY activities include painting, tiling and drilling holes in walls. You should always look out for hidden electrical dangers associated with these activities:
- When painting around light fittings, don't remove the light plate. This exposes live wires even when the light is switched off.
- When tiling around light fittings, switches or power points, get a licensed electrician to remove the light plates and deactivate any exposed wires before you begin.
- Check for wires before drilling into walls, floors and ceilings. When a metal drill comes into contact with concealed wiring it can spell disaster, so always make sure you know where wires run first. Be particularly careful when drilling around power points and light switches.
- Safety switches need to be checked regularly to ensure all power and lighting circuits are protected.
- Portable safety switches can be bought from most hardware stores and are recommended for protection when using power tools.
It’s not only what you can see that can harm you but also what you can’t.
- Always dial 1100 to find out if there are underground power cables or other assets in the area before you dig any holes. Plan your work and manually pothole until you locates assets, prior to any excavation work. Always follow the safe work guidelines provided by your local utility.
- When painting your eaves, or replacing or cleaning gutters, avoid getting close to the electrical wires that connect your home to the power poles. Always look out for powerlines when using ladders or carrying other tall objects.
- If the job requires close proximity to a powerline, be sure to install 'Tiger tails'. ‘Tiger tails’ help improve visibility of powerlines so they can be easily avoided.
- Never interfere with the electricity meter or divert electricity from the main powerlines to your home. It is not only illegal, it can also be extremely dangerous. The results can lead to serious property damage, severe injury or even death.