Deciding to renovate your home is a big decision and 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.
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 Wiring Rules, all electrical work must meet or exceed the 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:
- Install garden lights.
- Install pond pumps.
- Install battery operated smoke detectors.
- Install some self-contained solar lights.
- Change and rewire old style fuses – however, it is usually better to have an electrician replace them with a circuit breaker.
- 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.
- Cut openings for portable air-conditioners, however you will need to have a licensed electrician connect them.
- Fit an electric wall oven in a kitchen, but not connect it.
What you should leave to the professionals: facts and tips
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.
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.
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 batten holder with a new light fitting.
Things to keep an eye on
Whether 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:
- 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 adaptors, 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.
Familiarise yourself with the switchboard. Sometimes, when the house is using more power than it can handle, it will shut down. Before calling an electrician, check the switchboard and see if any switches are down. If that’s the case, pull them up to restore the power.
If the power does not come back on or regularly shuts off, you need to call a licenced electrician to fix the issue.