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Household wiring

Information about wiring and switches for home safety.

Beware old household wiring – don’t let a renovator’s dream turn into a nightmare!

When buying a home built before the 1980s it is imperative the wiring is checked by a licensed electrical inspector or registered electrical contractor prior to moving in.

Fire brigades respond to more than 300 domestic electrical fires each year. Many of these fires are caused by old wiring that has degraded or is unable to cope with the demands of modern electrical equipment. In addition to the risk of fire, contact with degraded wiring can be fatal.

If your house was built more than 30 years ago, the wiring should be checked

Find your local registered electrical contractors and licensed electrical inspectors in your local newspaper or via the internet. You can also find these tradespeople using our Public Register

Safety protection in modern household wiring

Safety switches are an additional form of protection to be used with circuit breakers and fuses. They may not protect all wiring and electrical appliances and will not prevent all electric shocks.

Fuses and circuit breakers protect against short circuits and current overloads.

The difference between safety switch, a circuit breaker and a surge diverter

It is important to understand the differences between these three devices.

Safety switch

A safety switch:

  • monitors the flow of electricity through a circuit
  • detects a problem that may pose a risk to personal safety
  • turns the power off within 0.03 of a second
  • always has a test button and '30ma' printed on them.

They are also sometimes labelled with the words ‘safety switch’. If you are unsure if a safety switch is installed at your property, contact a registered electrical contractor.

A labelled photograph of an electrical safety switch, showing 4 small panels with a switch set to the
A circuit breaker and a safety switch.

Circuit breakers

A circuit breaker provides short-circuit and over-current protection such as when a power point is overloaded.

Surge diverters

Surge diverters protect the property from voltage surges such as those resulting from a lightning strike. The surge diverter captures the voltage spikes in the wiring that would otherwise be transferred into the equipment within the property.

A photograph of a surge diverter, a piece of equipment made of white plastic in a semi-rectangular shape.
A surge diverter

Surge diverters and circuit breakers do not act as safety switches for personal protection against electric shock.

Date: 19/07/2024 18:59

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