Whether you’re renovating or just doing minor repairs around the house, you may be tempted to save a little time and money by doing quick electrical jobs yourself.
If people knew the potential consequences of doing this, they would be on the phone to a qualified electrician right away. Doing your own electrical work is a very bad move for a number of reasons.
- Electricity kills -- unlike in the USA, where electricity is only 110 volts, Australia uses 240 volts of electricity, which is easily enough to kill you. And even if you aren’t concerned about your own safety, consider your loved ones. If you are electrocuted, they may unwittingly try to help you and be electrocuted themselves through touching you while you are ‘live’.
- DIY electrical work is illegal -- penalties for illegal electrical work vary from state to state in Australia, but they can be as high as $40,000 in fines for individuals and up to $200,000 or three years imprisonment if deaths or injuries result from such illegal work.
- Faulty wiring can be a time bomb -- incorrect or unsafe wiring can be an accident waiting to happen. It may go unnoticed for a long period before causing a problem resulting in electrocution or a fire.
If the dangers listed above are not enough to convince you, then you should also be aware that doing your own electrical work will most definitely have an affect on your house insurance cover.
If the illegal electrical job is done incorrectly and a fire results, you will not be covered for the loss of your house -- so a job that would probably have cost you around a hundred dollars for an hour of an electrician’s time will end up costing you your biggest investment: your home.
Another thing to be aware of is that a home and contents insurance company will not recognise work done by an unlicensed electrician, so when you have the job done by a professional, it pays to make sure they have a current licence, or any work they do will also void your insurance policy.
And it’s not just your insurance you have to worry about. Licensed electrical contractors are also required to have public liability insurance. If your electrician is unlicensed (and hence uninsured), you won’t receive a cent in compensation if his work injures you or your family.
So what is classed as electrical work? Basically, it’s any work involving electricity, such as:
- Installing a power point
- Replacing a light switch
- Repairing an electrical appliance
- Replacing a plug on a lead
- Installing a ceiling fan
- Rewiring a room
- Installing an air conditioner.
So that basically leaves you with changing light bulbs and putting the lights on the Christmas tree. Any other work involving electricity must be done by a licensed electrician. This is not just because DIY electrical work is illegal and could void your home insurance, but because it could kill you and endanger your loved ones -- and that simply isn’t worth the risk.