As tempting as it may be to save a few dollars, doing your own electrical work is not only dangerous, but some will be surprised to learn that it is also illegal. The Queensland Safety Act states that it is illegal for persons to perform their own electrical work unless they are a licensed electrician, and anyone caught doing so can be fined or even prosecuted. Electrical work is defined as “the manufacturing, constructing, installing, testing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing, or replacing of electrical equipment”.
Some of the tasks that fall under this category include…
- Installing/Replacing a light switch
- Installing/Repairing a power point
- Repairing an electrical appliance such as an air-conditioner
- Installing a ceiling fan
- Replacing a light fitting with a ceiling fan
Some of the tasks that can be performed without an electrical license include…
- Cutting openings for air-conditioning units
- Fitting, but not connecting, an electric wall oven in a kitchen cabinet
- Replacing a light bulb or LED downlights
While some of the prohibited tasks may seem simple enough, there is good reason as to why these laws are in place. In the early 2000’s, 1500 Australians were hospitalised with injuries relating to electrical work, most of which occurred in their own homes. In addition to the safety and legal implications, we have compiled a list of further reasons why you should leave it to the professionals when it comes to electrical work in your home.
You may think that you are improving your home by carrying out DIY electrical work, however often you are doing the exact opposite. When attempting to repair certain electrical appliances, you run the risk of frying and meting wires behind the walls, causing major damage that can go undetected for long periods of time. Just remember, a 5-minute ‘How-To’ YouTube video cannot teach you the skills it takes an electrician four years to master!
As with many popular DIY jobs, what saves you money in the short-term may cost you much more in the long run. You are better off engaging the services of a licensed electrician from the get-go as once you attempt the work yourself and incur damages, you then have the added cost of repairing the damage on top of the electrician’s fee. Even if you do manage to complete the job, DIY electrical work can come back to bite you when you go to sell your home, lowering the value and resulting in potential legal ramifications.
One fifth of Australian fires are electrical and once started are incredibly difficult to put out. They spread rapidly and you cannot use water to extinguish the flames as water will conduct electricity, in turn electrocuting anyone who gets wet. Some of the relatively simple mistakes that can cause an electrical fire include incorrect bulb wattage, incorrect fuse size and faulty installation of outlets or switches.
If a fire occurs in your home due to a faulty electrical issue, your insurance company will not cover the damages if the work has not been completed by a certified electrician. Uncertified work can also create problems when selling your home as the electrical work is inspected and checked to ensure that it complies with building codes. Make sure that the electrician performing the work has a current licence as they are required to have public liability insurance, covering themselves, you and your family in the event of a workplace injury.
There is a reason that there are such strict laws in place around electrical maintenance and repairs, as unlike most other DIY tasks, it can be a matter of life or death. Australian residential homes have appliances that use up to 240 volts, a potentially deadly voltage if you are exposed to it. Electrocution can be caused by something as simple as forgetting to turn off the right circuit breaker or touching the wrong wires together. Electrocution causes deep burns, internal injuries and other long-term health issues but ultimately it can and does result in death.
A good rule of thumb is if you are not a licensed electrician, do not attempt any work beyond the changing of your light bulbs. By taking electrical work into your own hands, you are compromising your money, your home and most importantly the lives of yourself and your loved ones. Conducting DIY electric work has a maximum penalty of $600,000 and 5-years imprisonment if a breach exposes an individual to a risk of death, serious illness or injury. Using a licensed electrician to carry out any electrical work will ensure that your home, your health and your loved ones stay safe.