Local electricians have specialised knowledge about the conditions and challenges of Melbourne homes
Oh Melbourne, there is so much to love about living in this vibrant, sprawling city. And more than enough little quirks to keep us on our toes. Melbournites love to talk about sport, the weather and level crossing removals, in no particular order.
But one thing we don’t talk about enough is electrical safety. There are a number of reasons why Melbourne homes, in particular, require specialised home electrical safety inspections. This blog will dive into why our unpredictable weather, penchant for DIY and aging housing stock means that home electrical safety inspections from a local electrician are vital.
Advancements in electrical systems happen regularly, so if your Melbourne home is more than a decade old, there’s probably some safety upgrades that are available or outdated practices that have now been improved.
Switchboard Safety in Older Homes
As you travel from the sprawling outskirts of the city into Melbourne’s inner suburbs, you almost travel back in time. The modern display homes are replaced by clinker-brick bungalows which then merge into terrace houses. But underneath this rich history, there may lie electrical systems that are decades old and fail to meet current electrical standards.
The switchboard is the most important component of your home electrical system. So it is vital that it is safe and functioning properly. However, it is also the thing that can be decades out-of-date! An electrical safety inspection by Kenner Electrics will let you know if your switchboard meets current safety standards, and what you can do if it doesn't.
There are still thousands of homes in Melbourne in desperate need of a switchboard upgrade. Heritage homes may still rely on old fuseboards that should have been retired more than 20 years ago. Replacing fuses exposes live parts and creates a risk of electric shock. So these old style fuse boards are no longer compliant with current electrical safety standards and should be upgraded to a modern switchboard with RCDs or RCBOs by a licensed electrician to ensure your home is safe.
Even houses built in the last few decades may be operating without safety switches and therefore have no protection against electric shock. Current safety standards require all new circuits to have a safety switch, but many older switchboards will either have a single safety switch protecting multiple circuits, or none at all. This greatly increases the chances of a faulty RCD not working properly.
For a deep dive into the most common safety issues in old switchboards, click through to our blog - Signs You Definitely Need A Switchboard Upgrade. There are also a range of modern devices available now that greatly enhance the safety of your switchboard such as surge protectors, overload devices and arc fault protection devices.
Old World Charm, or Outdated Wiring?
Wiring is in every room of your Melbourne home, but because it is hidden away in the walls and ceiling, most of us don’t give it a second thought. But our electricians regularly come across deteriorated, unsafe wiring in older homes. This highlights the importance of getting a licensed electrician to do an electrical safety inspection.
There has been huge progress made in the safety and manufacturing standards of cabling over the past century, but many older Melbourne homes have not had any rewiring done since they were built. Old rubber or cotton insulated cabling might still be in use. The insulation on these old cables will be brittle and deteriorated by now, causing the internal live wires to be exposed. This is a huge fire and electrocution risk! This type of wiring was in use up until the 1960s, when modern TPS cable started to be introduced.
So the older the house, the more likely it is to have old unsafe cabling. If your house was built before 1980, Energy Safe Victoria recommends that it be inspected to make sure that the cabling is safe and in good condition.
If you suspect your might have old cabling in your home, cHeck out our blog about Unsafe Wiring in Older Homes and give Kenner Electrics a call.
Unwelcome Residents: Possums and Rats
An unfortunate reality of living in Melbourne is co-habiting with possums and rats. In the roof, under the house, in the walls, they love to make themselves at home.
Our Melbourne housemates are usually Brushtail possums that love to screech, fight and crash onto your roof at all hours. But apart from the annoyance, there are some far more significant issues with possums calling your house their home.
Possums (and rats) love to chew on the insulation surrounding electrical cables. Our electricians see evidence of this all the time in roofs around Melbourne. This can leave dangerous exposed wires in the roof of your home which is a significant fire and electric shock risk. It can also disrupt your power supply, so if you notice your power cutting out sometimes, it’s possible that a rodent has been munching on your cables.
If you think your cabling might already have been damaged, we recommend you get it checked out by one of our Kenner Electrics licenced electricians.
If you want to be proactive about preventing damaged in the first place, click through to our blog on How To Stop Possums From Chewing Your Cables!
Weather Exposure: Rain, Hail and Shine
Another very ‘Melbourne’ trait is that we love to talk about the weather. People from other cities don’t quite get it, but the reason is because our weather is so unpredictable! We could leave home in a t-shirt and shorts, only to pull out the umbrella an hour later. And our Melbourne homes are also constantly exposed to these changing weather conditions!
Four seasons in one day is just a normal Wednesday in Melbourne. So the external electrical fittings on our homes, constantly exposed to rain, hail, shine, require special consideration. Your outdoor power outlets, security lights and external wiring need extra protection and durability to make sure they remain safe despite water and UV exposure.
IP rated fittings are specialised for outdoor use because they can withstand a higher level of water and dust. If a non IP-rated fitting (a normal indoor power outlet, or power board for example) was installed outside, it might be damaged by water and cause short circuits. Likewise, if unsuitable cabling or conduit is used outdoors it will deteriorate much more quickly under the summer sun.
An electrical safety inspection by Kenner Electrics will identify whether any non-suitable fittings have been installed in external areas.
Melbourne has a thriving DIY culture. You just have to go down to your nearest Bunnings on a Saturday morning to see everyone loading supplies for their newest project into the car. We love a spot of DIY landscaping, or dabbling in upcycling old furniture.
But unfortunately some people’s soft spot for DIY can extend to electrical work. Whereas a inexperienced paint job might be an eyesore, an unlicensed person doing electrical work can cause serious injury, house fires or death.
Overloaded circuits, exposed connections, screws through cables, not earthing light fittings… these are all common mistakes made by unlicensed electricians.
And problems with unlicensed electrical work might not be immediately apparent. The work might look good on the outside but a mistake might lurk in the background for months or years before it causes issues. Incorrectly terminated cables in the roof might seem fine for years until they are disturbed by a possum and cause a house fire. Or a safety switch with the incorrect amps installed in your switchboard won’t work when you most need it to.
If you have any doubts about a previous owner doing DIY electrical work, give Kenner Electrics a call to inspect the safety of your home’s electrics.
Another trend that went through Melbourne homes was the popularity of halogen downlights in the 2000s. But there are now a number of safety concerns relating to this type of light fitting. They get super hot, waste a lot of energy in heat output, have a short lifespan and lose their brightness quickly.
So why should I upgrade my halogen downlights to LED? LED lighting technology is now more efficient, longer lasting and safer than halogen downlights.
It’s time to say goodbye to halogen heat-sinks in your Melbourne home. A licensed home electrical safety inspection will identify which light fittings in your home are still halogen, and provide recommendations on the best replacement fittings for your situation.
Expired Smoke Alarms
So many Melbournites that we speak to are unaware that smoke alarms have expiry dates! If your smoke alarms are older than 10 years, they need to be replaced to make sure they operate correctly in the event of fire.
Additionally, there have been updates in smoke alarm technology in recent years. Photoelectric smoke alarms (rather than older style ionisation alarms) provide better detection of house fires. And modern smoke alarm systems allow for interconnection so that when one alarm activates, all smoke alarms sound.
An electrical safety inspection will identify any expired smoke alarms in your Melbourne home, so you can sleep easy!
One dark side of Melbourne’s housing industry was its love affair with asbestos. Homes built before 1990 are likely to contain the toxic material somewhere. It can be in the eaves, in the switchboard, cladding and other areas. And unfortunately, it’s difficult to identify which leaves unsuspecting tradespeople or DIY-ers open to exposure.
While most asbestos is not dangerous if it is left alone, if it is unknowingly cut into, drilled, crumbling or otherwise disturbed it can cause serious issues. So it’s always better to know about the presence of asbestos in your Melbourne home so that you can avoid it (and let tradies know it’s there!). That’s where an electrical safety inspection comes in!
Kenner Electrics always uses a licensed asbestos removalist. This ensures the safety of our workers and the people in your home.
Specialised Electrical Safety Reports for Melbourne Homes
From the unpredictable weather that our houses face day-in and day-out, to the possums that love to reside in our roofs, there are distinct challenges that make this city like no other.
And a unique city requires local knowledge of electrical systems and the challenges that Melbourne homes face. That’s why a specialised home electrical safety inspection for your Melbourne home is a great first step towards peace of mind.
And there’s more! After the safety inspection, the results will be explained to you in easy to understand language (no electrical jargon here!). You'll also be provided with a written report that includes any recommendations we have to keep you and your family safe. If there are works that need to be done, we can give you a quote on the spot so that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Interested in learning more about what an electrical safety inspection involves? Click through to our Home Safety Inspection services page or give our friendly team a call on 9996 0663.