An electrical safety check is a comprehensive inspection of all your electrical installations. It identifies any faults throughout your property, from degraded wiring to faulty components.
In Victoria it’s mandatory for all landlords to carry out these checks, as per the Residential Tenancies Regulations of 2019 and the Residential Tenancies Act of 1997. These are enforced by Energy Safe Victoria, which is the electrical safety office responsible for regulating the state.
If you’re a homeowner, electrical safety checks aren’t compulsory, but we highly recommend having a certified and qualified electrician inspect your house. Even small faults in your electrical system can pose the risk of damage or fire, so it’s best to put safety first.
Compulsory electrical safety checks for landlords
If you’re renting out a house or flat, you must by law have an electrical safety check carried out on the property every two years. This includes all fittings and installations, as well as any appliances that are pre-equipped. This inspection has to be done by a licensed electrician who is registered in the state of Victoria.
As the landlord, the electrical safety office makes it a legal obligation to provide your tenants with the date and results of the last safety check. If you haven’t had one done within the past two years, you must arrange for it before any new tenants move in.
When do you need an electrical safety check as a homeowner?
It’s more than just a good idea to have an electrician carry out a full electrical check before you buy or move into a house. It’s an investment in your safety and that of your family. At the very least, this will ensure that your electrical wiring, switchboard, earth connections and plug sockets are in good working order. More seriously, it will identify any other hidden faults that could have serious or even life-threatening consequences.
To be on the safe side, always commission an electrical safety check if you are buying a house that has been previously occupied, as you have no way of knowing when the last one was conducted. An inspection is also a must if the structure is more than 25 years old, or if the last safety check was done more than five years ago.
Although you’re not compelled to do so by law, it’s prudent to follow the same procedures and schedule required of landlords – by having your home inspected for electrical safety every two years, for instance.
What does an electrical safety check involve?
An electrical safety check is a rigorous inspection of the entire electrical system in your house. It identifies current or potential electrical hazards, like a lack of earthing or bonding, and reveals whether any of the circuits or components are damaged or overloaded. It will also expose whether previous DIY work has created problems or is non-compliant.
A thorough visual inspection of your switchboard is a central part of an electrical safety check. This comprises looking at all the fuses for signs of overheating or damage, and replacing them if necessary. The same applies to all breakers. The electrician will also check if you have the correct amp rated fuse wire and cartridges.
Your wiring will be inspected for any hazardous exposure and your main earthing system will be tested as well. It’s also critical that your switchboard has an RCD (residual safety device), which automatically cuts the electricity feed to all your home’s circuits if leakage occurs.
Your electrician can physically check all the wiring in your house when undertaking an electrical safety check. This is especially important with older buildings, as they may still have outdated wiring materials, like aluminium, which is more hazardous than modern copper wire. The inspection will also find any wires that are exposed due to erosion or damage to the insulated coating, which is a serious fire risk.
If you’re not sure whether to have all your wiring circuits tested, keep an eye out for the warning signs of outdated electrical wiring – particularly if you live in an older house.
Power point and switches testing
An electrical safety check also requires inspecting all your power points to ensure they’re securely earthed. In addition to visual checks, your electrician will conduct an earth continuity test to detect whether your earth connections are in good health. This will be followed by polarity and voltage checks.
Your light switches will also be inspected, as they can present a risk of being shocked if they’re damaged. A detailed examination will reveal if they have any cracks or other faults that require electrical replacement.
The aim of this all is to ensure that your switchboard’s safety measures kick in if you plug in a faulty appliance, or if a kid prods a wall socket with something metallic. Proper earthing will prevent electrocution or fires breaking out.
Installed appliances testing
If you’re renting your home, electrical safety checks can additionally cover all the appliances your landlord has supplied. This includes checking for faulty plugs or leads, and making sure the appliance is in good working order. If it’s made of metal, an earth continuity test can also be conducted, to ensure it isn’t a shock hazard. Examples of such appliances would be stoves, lamps, microwave ovens and ceiling fans.
Of course you can always have your appliances tested if you own your home as well.
How long does an electrical safety check take?
This varies, depending on the size of your property and the scope of the inspection. It will typically take around three to four hours to conduct all the necessary checks and tests. This excludes the time it might take to fix any faults that are detected.
Minor repairs like replacing a faulty light switch shouldn’t add much extra time to the process. But if you need more extensive work, like rewiring, your electrician will give you a time and cost estimate.
Certified Melbourne electricians for electrical safety checks
STL Electrical can conduct any type of safety check for landlords and homeowners in Melbourne. Whether you suspect a fault or want a comprehensive inspection, you can rely on our decades of experience and our skilled, certified electricians. Simply contact us and we’ll give you a speedy quote.