Electrical safety tips to keep in mind if you’re a homeowner
While electricity is part of our everyday life at this point, it can be a double-edged sword—it can hurt as much as it can benefit us.
In Australia, it’s estimated that about 20 people die from electrical shocks each year, with more than 50% of these accidents happening at home.
Thankfully, with increased awareness and by practising a few electrical safety tips, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe from electrical hazards at home.
Here are a few useful electrical safety tips for an accident-free home.
Fit an arc-fault circuit interrupter
An arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) detects electrical arcing in an electrical installation and prevents fires.
Electrical arcing, or an arc fault, happens when damaged or loose wiring causes electrical sparking that could lead to an electrical fire.
Arcing is dangerous because, unlike a short-circuit, arcing does not trip circuit breakers or GFCIs—this may lead to a potential electrical fire hazard going unnoticed for a long time.
The arc-fault circuit interrupter is designed to detect a wide range of electrical problems that other electrical protection devices fail to notice. They work by detecting natural and dangerous arcing conditions.
Arcing isn’t always dangerous; some electrical devices like vacuum cleaners and furnace motors produce arcs (natural arcs) all the time. The AFCI, however, can differentiate between natural and dangerous arcs (caused by issues like improper wiring) and cut the power to a device when needed.
Be mindful of wattage for light fixtures
When you’re installing a new light fixture, it’s crucial to ensure its watt rating matches the rating on your light sockets.
Installing a light fixture with a watt rating higher than the rating on the socket could lead to overlamping, which happens when a socket exceeds its recommended rating, causing heat to build up.
The heat from overlamping could be hot enough to melt wires, trigger electrical arcs and cause a fire in the worst-case scenario.
The only way to prevent this is to install light fixtures that have a watt rating lower than or equal to your socket’s rating. If you cannot find fixtures with the right wattage, install ones with the standard 60-watt rating.
Watch out for heated power outlets
Some electrical faults might be seen by the naked eye, but they can be felt.
If any of your electrical outlets feel hot to the touch, it may be a sign of danger. Heated electrical outlets are usually caused by overloaded circuits or improper wiring, though sometimes outlets may get heated up if you have a dimmer switch.
Outlets generally get a bit warm during operation but incidents of it getting dangerously hot requires immediate attention, as it can cause a fire.
Learn the wiring code
If you’re planning on doing some electrical installations yourself, you need to learn the Australian wiring code.
The wiring code tells you what different kinds of wires do and how to identify them through their colour.
The Australian wiring code is as follows:
- Green – Earth
- Black – Neutral
- Red – Line 1
- White – Line 2
- Blue – Line 3
These colour codes are stipulated according to AS 3000, the Australian wiring rules. If you’re attempting to install something yourself, you must know which wire serves which purpose so you can prevent any accidents or damage to your electrical infrastructure.
Take care when removing capacitors from a circuit
Take precautions when removing a capacitor from a circuit during a repair.
The capacitor stores electricity and may give you an electric shock if it hasn’t been discharged.
To safely discharge a capacitor(low-voltage in this case), put the tips of two insulated screwdrivers into the terminals of the capacitor; this will allow it to discharge safely.
For higher voltage capacitors, you could try connecting the capacitor to a 12-volt bulb so that the bulb will draw the stored electricity to light itself up and discharge the capacitor in the process.
If you’re not sure how to make safe electrical installations, get in touch with professional electricians for more electrical safety tips.
Use these electrical safety tips for a safe electrical infrastructure
We take electricity for granted every day and sometimes we forget, just how dangerous it can be if we’re not careful with it.
Fortunately, in the modern age, we know how to keep an eye out for electrical issues and usually have many electrical safety options to help keep our home’s electrical infrastructure safe and accident-free.