When Do You Need to Get an Electrical Inspection?

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An electrical inspection will ensure your home or business’s wiring and other electrical components are in good working order and do not pose a hazard to yourself or your family.

A comprehensive electrical inspection may involve the following:

  • Determining any electrical hazards
  • Checking for uncovered permanent wiring
  • Checking for any exposed wires
  • Checking for outdated wiring
  • Testing safety switches
  • Examining the power box
  • Checking safety switches
  • Testing power points and lighting
  • Evaluating the level of electrical service
  • Assessing whether the home includes any DIY wiring
  • Noting the location of smoke alarms and testing them
  • Scanning for any electrical items that don’t comply with current government regulations

Knowing exactly when you need an electrical inspection done on your home can be tricky, which is why we’ve compiled a list of occasions where you may need an electrician to come and take a look at the electrical system in your home.

Before you commit to buying a house

An electrical inspection prior to buying a home is important to identify any dangerous electrical situations that may be very expensive to repair once the property has been purchased. An electrical inspection can also help you negotiate a lower price if you find any property faults.

An electrical inspection can sometimes be included in the overall pre-purchase property inspection report (or building inspection), which will cover things like plumbing, heating, kitchen appliances, fire safety, foundations and more – but you should check that this is the case.

The NSW Government’s Office of Fair Trading building inspection guide explains that a building inspector will not normally inspect electrical wiring and smoke alarms, but these things are extremely important and should be checked before committing to buying a home. If your building inspection does not cover electrical aspects, it is recommended that you employ an electrician to look at the wiring, test the outlets, check the electrical panel, look at smoke alarms and test the ground fault circuit interrupters. No matter what state you’re in, it’s important to make sure that your building inspector is licensed with their relevant state body, such as the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. You will also need to make sure that the building inspection service has full professional indemnity insurance. 

If your house is old or you have any concerns

If you have been experiencing any electrical problems like regular power outages or tripped circuit breakers you should consider an electrical inspection as it can identify any electrical safety problems or deficiencies. It should reveal if any electrical circuits or appliances are overloaded, if there has been any defective work carried out or if there are any problems with the earthing.

Other reasons to have an electrical inspection carried out include:

  • If the house is over 25 years old.
  • If you have old wiring.
  • If any DIY work has been carried out.

After a major storm

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Storm damage and flooding can have severe impacts on the electricity in your home. Any faults with the electricity that may have been caused by a storm can pose a huge risk to your safety and the safety of your family. It’s essential that you take all necessary precautions to keep your home safe in the lead up to a storm, as well as organise an electrical inspection if your house has been affected by major storm damage.

Preparation before a storm

There are several precautions you can take to ensure that your house is prepared for a major storm:

  • Make sure safety switches are installed on all circuits in your switchboard and test them to ensure they are working properly.
  • Switch off and unplug all critical appliances that you don’t need to use.
  • Consider installing a surge protector to reduce electricity spike damage and help with general power surges, this will protect your appliances like those expensive televisions, A/C units and computers.
  • Steer clear of all electrical cables, lights, appliances, fixed wire phones or any conductive materials during a storm.

After a storm

Following a storm, you should take the following actions if your home has been affected by storm damage:

  • If your property has been flooded over power outlets, electrical wiring or any other electrical installations such as switchboards, organise a licensed electrician to check the premises as soon as the water subsides. Do not attempt to touch or unplug any appliances in the meantime.
  • If any electrical appliances were affected by water during the storm, have them checked by a licensed electrician before use.
  • If your electricity was disconnected during the flood, you will require a certificate of test from a licensed electrician before the Distribution Entity will reconnect the power.

For more information on what to do in the event of a storm, read our article on staying safe from electrical hazards after a storm or flood.

On a regular basis after buying a house

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Even if you have been in your home for some time, you still need electrical inspections. You may not know that householders in Australia actually have a legal responsibility to have a safe home. This includes using electricity in a safe manner. The rules may vary slightly from state-to-state, but the NSW Government of Fair Trading provides these five rules for people to remember in order to comply with their legal safety responsibilities. These include:

Keep up regular maintenance

It’s essential to make sure that your appliances, fittings, electrical wiring, earthing connections and switchboard are all in good working order – especially if your property is over 25 years old. If you ever suspect a problem, always contact a licensed electrician to do a check of the premises.

Get a certificate of compliance if electrical work is carried out on the property

If you have any electrical work done on the property, your electrician should give you a uniquely numbered ‘Certificate of Compliance Electrical Work’ as proof that the work has been tested and checked, ensuring it complies with the regulations. This is the case in all states, and it’s important to keep a record of these for future electrical work.

Consider installing safety switches

If you haven’t already done so, seriously consider installing a Residual Current Device (RCD). RCD’s, more commonly known as safety switches, monitor current flow and protect you from faulty wiring and appliances by providing a fast power cut in problem situations. As electrical hazards are often hard to identify, RCD’s are crucial devices that can protect you and your family from against hidden dangers, serious injuries or death.

Contact your landlord immediately if there are any electrical problems

If you rent your property, report any electrical issues to your real estate agent or landlord immediately. Electrical repairs should be considered a priority as landlords are legally obliged to ensure all electrical fittings and installations are properly maintained and kept in safe working order.

Inform your electrical provider if any electrical accident occurs that requires medical attention

Any electrical accident where medical treatment is required must be reported by law to either your electricity provider. Any work-related electrical accidents should also be reported to the relevant work safety arrangement in your state.

Always use a licensed electrician

Follow these steps and always err on the side of caution when it comes to electricity, as a delayed inspection can have hazardous consequences. Remember, an electrical inspection should always be conducted by a qualified and experienced electrician. If you ever have any questions regarding when you should have an electrical inspection conducted on your property, don’t hesitate to call us on 1800 752 846 and speak to a licensed electrician for advice.