Pre-purchase Electrical Inspection

Pre-purchase Electrical Inspection

Most people are unaware that a pre-purchase electrical inspection is an important part of the process when buying a new home or unit.

The ESO is encouraging pre-purchase electrical inspections to assist buyers to identify if a property is safe and complies with all electrical legislation. We are promoting these inspections to assist buyers in avoiding costly and unsafe issues, to act as a deterrent to dangerous and illegal DIY work, and to encourage home owners to commit to better maintenance practices.

Electrical Safety Office – Qld (ESO)

Also the humid climate of south-east Queensland means there can be issues with electrical wiring in an existing home or commercial property. There is often no warning of the major problem of corrosion caused by moisture that may lead to dire consequences with electrical faults.

A pre-purchase electrical inspection consists of the following:
  • Check the condition of the electrical switchboard.
  • Inspect the meter box, and check for safety switches.
  • Check home automation, security and intrusion system.
  • Check air-conditioning systems and power outlets.
  • Test earthing system to eliminate risk of electrocution.
  • Check power points, switches and lights to ensure they are operating correctly.
  • Test operation and wiring of oven, hotplate and hot water system.
  • Suggest any power saving ideas and the potential costs involved.
  • Advise of any other potential problems in the electrical system.

Regardless of whether you own or rent, you should have safety switches installed on all circuits. Safety switches protect you, your family and anyone visiting the property from electric shock. One safety switch may not be enough, so if you are unsure, call your electrician to see if your home is safe.

Weiss Electrical – Brisbane are experts in pre-purchase inspections of electrical, lighting, home automation, alarms, security systems and air conditioning systems.

Electrical Safety Laws Rental Properties

Electrical safety in rental properties

Queensland property owners and managers have a duty under electrical safety laws to ensure their rental property is electrically safe for tenants and people that visit or work on the property.

Safety switch requirements

Owners of domestic rental accommodation in Queensland must have a safety switch installed in their rental properties.

Landlords

If your rental property does not have a safety switch, you must get one installed by a licensed electrician.

If a safety switch is not installed in your rental property you may get fines of up to $1,500.

Tenants

The regulations ensure people in domestic rental properties have the same protection from electric shock as homeowners. The law requires the installation of safety switches within three months of the sale of a domestic residence constructed prior to 1992.

If you do not believe a safety switch is installed at your rental property you can:

  • talk to your landlord or rental agent
  • call ESO on 1300 362 128.

Appliances and Power points

Power points, double adaptors and power boards

Power points are usually situated at a low level, within easy reach of young children. If young children are around your home, consider using plastic safety outlet plugs to stop them from inserting objects into power point sockets.

If power points are likely to be exposed to the elements, have weatherproof power points and switches installed. Only use power boards rated for outdoor use, and consider protecting them from the weather and the possibility of contact with splashing water from rain or sprinklers etc.

Never overload a power point by 'piggy-backing' with multiple double adaptors. If you need more outlets, use a power board or ask your electrician to install extra power points.

Only use power boards with low power items like televisions, videos and stereos and not with high power items such as room heaters, clothes dryers and washing machines.

Do not use power boards or double adaptors in wet areas such as laundries and bathrooms and do not leave power boards covered with a mass of power leads, clothes, papers or other clutter.

Consider replacing old power boards that do not have an overload cut out button (a push button near the supply-cord entry on the power board).

Extension leads

Different types of leads are available depending on the required use.

Always use heavy duty leads outdoors.

If you are using power tools or high-pressure water hoses, then the leads to these items should be suitable for outside use.

Be aware of where extension leads are lying when using electric mowers, brush cutters, line trimmers or hedging tools, or placing power tools on the ground such as circular saws or angle grinders, so you do not accidentally cut the lead.

Always use a circuit with a safety switch.

Extension leads should only be used temporarily. If you need power at a different part of the room or in a different room, consider asking your electrician to add more power points.

Never make an extension lead yourself. It is illegal and an incorrectly wired extension lead can cause a serious shock.

Electric Heater Safety Tips

Simple safety tips:

  • do not run leads through doorways or windows
  • protect leads from weather and water when using them
  • fully unwind the lead before use to avoid it overheating
  • check leads for signs of damage or fraying and discard any damaged ones
  • install additional power points rather than using multiple double adaptors, multiple power boards or running extension leads from one area of the room to another.

Electricity in the Home. Electrical Safety Office - Queensland Government, 2017.

Buying Electrical Appliances

Importers and manufacturers have duties to ensure the equipment they supply is electrically safe. Suppliers of electrical equipment have a legal obligation to ensure that electrical equipment is accompanied by information about its safe electrical use.

  • Ask the supplier to confirm the equipment meets electrical safety requirements.
  • Do not buy equipment that does not have partial insulated pins or has holes in the end of the plug pin.
  • Do not buy appliances that need a travel adaptor to plug into a power point.

Cleaning appliances

Cleaning appliances can be a simple, yet effective, form of maintenance. The build up of grease, dust, dirt or other contaminants can affect the electrical functioning of your appliance, so it is best to remove these deposits before they cause the equipment to become unsafe.

Before cleaning the equipment, turn the equipment off at the power point and unplug it. Only use a damp cloth for cleaning and never immerse an appliance in water unless advised in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Only spray cleaning agents on to a cloth, not directly onto the equipment.

Simple cleaning tips:
  • keep hotplates and ovens free of food spillages or grease
  • remove breadcrumbs and residue from toasters
  • wipe down jugs and kettles
  • remove dust from power tools
  • clean the grease out of range hood filters or replace them regularly.

Maintenance of appliances

Electric blankets

Inspect electric blankets that have been stored over summer before re-using them. Discard any damaged items.

  • never crease them and check for any kinks, broken heating wires or damage to the controller, supply cord or plug before use
  • never use sharp objects, like safety pins, to secure them in place
  • do not place heavy objects on beds that may have one.
Electric heaters

Inspect electric heaters that have been stored over summer before re-using them. Discard any damaged items.

  • check them for dust before turning them on
  • check the fan rotates freely (on fan heaters)
  • keep them well away from flammable materials, such as curtains or bedspreads
  • never leave them to run unattended, or through the night while sleeping
  • never use them to dry clothing
  • avoid using a plug-in heater in the bathroom or other wet areas.
Clothes Dryers

Clothes dryers are usually safe but in some instances they have caused fires after overheating. You should:

  • install, maintain and use your dryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • keep the exhaust duct clear of obstacles to allow hot air to escape
  • clean the lint filter before each use
  • keep the immediate area well ventilated during operation
  • never overload your dryer
  • avoid using your dryer if it is making unusual noises e.g. rubbing or grinding sounds, or if the drying cycle timer is not functioning properly
  • avoid placing items in a tumble dryer that have been previously cleaned or spotted with flammable or explosive substances
  • wait until the dryer has completed the cool down cycle before removing clothes.

Electricity in the Home. Electrical Safety Office - Queensland Government, 2017.

Mark Thomson at East Coast Appliance Repairs has been servicing and repairing appliances on the Gold Coast since 1995. Mark and his expert team will inspect and ensure the effective and efficient running of appliances such as freezers, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, washing machines and dish washers, or recommend suitable replacements.

Researched, Compiled, Composed, Written & Edited by Dr Steve Gration – December 2020