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DIY electrical and why you should never attempt it

CSParnell
Experienced Contributor

DIY electrical and why you should never attempt it

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You may have seen these stickers around your local Bunnings electrical department and thought "oh they are just covering themselves". But it is so important not to carry out D.I.Y. electrical work as it has the potential to cause injury to yourself and harm others.

 

I am a qualified electrician of 20 years and have also held the position of a QTP (qualified technical person) - the person responsible for all rules and regulations of an electrical contractor licence of a business of multi million contracts. So I write this with an understanding of the importance of not only being qualified but always being current with the latest rules and regulations.

 

The following taken from the Electrical Safety Office QLD really gives good perspective on why you should never perform electrical work yourself.

 

You might think you can save a few dollars by having a go at electrical work yourself, but stop and ask yourself – is it worth risking your life or the life of someone you love? 

 

Not only is it breaking the law, but you could also jeopardise your insurance!

 

Changing powerpoints or light switches might seem simple, but unless you are trained and qualified, there are lots of risks you just won’t know about. Never attempt to do your own electrical work – you could kill or injure yourself or your family, or start a fire. Always use a licensed electrician

 

What is electrical work?

 

Under section 18 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (the Act), electrical work includes "the manufacturing, constructing, installing, testing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing, or replacing of electrical equipment".

 

This covers tasks like:

  • installing a new power point
  • replacing a light switch
  • replacing a batten holder with a new light fitting
  • repairing an electrical appliance like a heater
  • altering the location of an existing power point
  • replacing a light fitting with a ceiling fan
  • constructing an extension lead
  • replacing a plug on the end of an extension lead.

 

It’s not illegal to purchase electrical accessories or appliances that need to be hard-wired, but they must be connected by a licensed electrician.

 

Other work such as replacing a drive belt in a washing machine, cutting openings for air-conditioning units or fitting, but not connecting, an electric wall oven in a kitchen cabinet are not regarded as electrical work. However, electrical risks such as damage to, or contact with, wiring contained within wall cavities need to be considered and controlled, particularly when cutting holes or driving screws or nails into walls.

 

What can happen if I do my own electrical work?

 

In Queensland, electrical safety inspectors investigate and prosecute unlicensed work.

 

Aside from being illegal, people who perform unlicensed and DIY electrical work risk contact with electricity, which can have deadly consequences for them as well as for the users or anyone else who comes into contact with the electrical installation or equipment which may accidentally be left in an unsafe state. This danger may not be immediately apparent and often only becomes evident in a fault situation, or may even develop over time.

 

Major property damage from an electrical fire is also a risk and if it was the result of illegal electrical work, your insurer may refuse the claim.

 

What are the penalties?

 

DIY electrical work is regarded as unlicensed electrical work, which is illegal, and has penalties of up to $40,000 for individuals.

 

A breach that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness attracts a maximum penalty of $600,000 for an individual ($3,000,000 for a corporation) or five years imprisonment.

 

Jason
Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: DIY electrical and why you should never attempt it

Thanks for the warning @CSParnell. It's always important to remind people of the importance of keeping themselves and their families safe.

 

Jason

 

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Noyade
Trusted Contributor

Re: DIY electrical and why you should never attempt it

I remember being 12 years old and my father (carpenter/builder) sat me down with a pile of electrical leads and taught me how to replace the ends. It became one of my jobs on the weekends to inspect his leads in the work van (there were many - no battery tools back then). Sometimes I would have to show him the lead if I could see exposed wires/copper along its length. He would be judge/jury and decide if was to be shortened with new ends or simply wrapped with electrical tape. I used a lotta tape.

This went on for six years till I left home - after replacing hundreds of pins and plugs (no longer referred to male/female?) I sometimes wondered if he ever had issues with my repaired work. If he did he never told me.

When he was dying of cancer he bequeathed to me his very old (1948?) electric arc welder. I tried it at home but it kept tripping a 16A circuit breaker so I rang him and asked him how he managed to weld with it for over 50 years at his place. He told me "easy, I replaced the fuse wire with coat-hanger wire."

When he was in palliative care in hospital I asked my mother on the phone if she would ask dad if it's OK to have his old McCulloch chainsaw.

She rang me back later that night.

 

"Sorry Graeme, he said no, he feels it's too dangerous for you to use."

 

A different generation. A different World.

CSParnell
Experienced Contributor

Re: DIY electrical and why you should never attempt it

Yeah it was the problem there was no education on the dangers of electricity back then like there is now and it was more dangerous as there was not the safety devices around like Residual Current Devices and Circuit Breakers as you said it was just fuses and the the blow rate was determined by the wire gauge. Kind of reminds me of these charts.

 

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Noyade
Trusted Contributor

Re: DIY electrical and why you should never attempt it

When my brothers get together for a beer we always laugh at our childhood with dad.

There were no school holidays (especially High School) back then - we went to work for him on the job site - and we actually learnt a work ethic, despite the oblivious danger. I'm happy to discuss my 3" nail gun experience at age 14. 😁

 

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