What Does an Electrical Switchboard Safety Check Involve?

Your home electrical switchboard is the most important part of your electricity system. It’s like a command centre, controlling the power supply throughout your house to ensure safe and reliable performance. Given this central role, a regular switchboard safety check is imperative to prevent damage to your electrical system that could have serious consequences. 


You’ll need a certified Melbourne electrician to carry out a full switchboard safety check, as it involves things like checking all your circuitry and finding outdated components. This is best left to qualified professionals. 


Energy Safe Victoria  has a comprehensive set of electrical switchboard standards that must be complied with for safety inspections.


That said, if you have a basic understanding of switchboards and what to look for, you can do your own superficial switchboard safety check. This will allow you to identify possible problems and contact a reliable electrician in Melbourne to conduct a deeper examination. They will fix or replace any faulty components that could cause a hazard.

To help you with this, we’ve compiled an easy checklist that you can use to visually inspect your home’s electrical switchboard. We’ll also cover the more advanced aspects of a switchboard safety check that your electrician will undertake. 


Doing your own switchboard safety check


It’s not difficult to check your switchboard, but this comes with a very strict caveat: do not try to fix anything yourself. Your electrical system is complex and carries a dangerous level of current, so it’s never a good idea to fiddle with anything. Just open your switchboard box and look for these warning signs…


Exposed wires


Exposed wiring poses a serious risk of fire or electrical shocks. Electrical wires have an insulated coating to prevent this. You can safely touch a live wire that is properly insulated. In fact, you do it all the time, like when you switch off a lamp and touch the wire connecting it to the plug socket.

However, if the insulation gets frayed or otherwise damaged, the live metallic wire inside is exposed, and this will definitely give you a nasty shock. A fire can also break out if an exposed wire with electrical current flowing through it comes into contact with a flammable material.


So pay close attention to the condition of your wiring and make absolutely sure that the insulation is intact. If you discover any exposed wiring, don’t touch it. Call your Melbourne electrician to fix it safely.


Twisted wiring


Even if the wiring insulation has no damage, you should think of the wires as hose pipes, carrying electricity instead of water. In the same way that a kink in your hose will restrict water flow, wiring kinks can lead to an increase in electrical resistance at that point, which produces heat. This build-up poses a fire risk, so make sure that your wires aren’t twisted.


Signs of animal activity


All kinds of small animals can be attracted to switchboard boxes, including lizards, rats and mice. The latter have a habit of chewing on insulated wires, which can lead to all the hazards of exposed wiring. 


Keeping all areas clean in and around your switchboard will help stop animals from nestling there. If you see any signs of animal activity, like mouse droppings, it’s an indication that some components may be damaged. Inspect the insulation on all your wires, and arrange for an electrician to do a more extensive switchboard safety check.


Rust or traces of water


Water and electricity make a disastrous combination. If you notice any water damage or rust in your switchboard, take this very seriously. These are obvious warning signs that there could be something dangerously wrong with your switchboard. The best thing to do is immediately call in an electrician to comprehensively inspect your switchboard. It may need to be moved, depending on how the water managed to penetrate the enclosure.


How to check your switchboard safety switch


You can go a step further with your switchboard safety check by testing the safety switch. Safety switches are designed to instantly cut off the electrical current as soon as something untoward happens. You’re sure to have experienced these switch trips.


It’s best to check that your switchboard safety switch is working properly during daylight, as your lights will go off as part of the procedure. First switch on a few lights. Then open your switchboard cover, find the “Test” button and press it. If this makes your switch trip and your lights go out, it means that the safety switch on your switchboard is working as it should. 


You can then flip this switch on again and carry on in the knowledge that your circuits are protected and safe to use. If the switch doesn’t trip, then there’s a problem that will need an electrician to fix.


A full professional switchboard safety check


A professional electrician has the knowledge, skills and tools to conduct a more comprehensive switchboard safety check. This will usually include the following:


  • Circuit breakers
    Circuit breakers work similarly to safety switches. They protect your electrical system and plugged in appliances from electrical surges and spikes that could damage them.

  • Electrical circuit faults
    Your house contains a number of electrical circuits controlling lights, power points and kitchen equipment and so on. A professional electrician can test each individual circuit and isolate any faults that need fixing.

  • Outdated electrical components
    Depending on the age of your house, your electrical system may contain outdated components. If so, these will need to be updated or replaced, as they can pose a risk of fire or electrocution.

  • RCD switches
    RCDs, or residual current devices, are similar to safety switches. They need to be checked for proper functioning, and you need to have enough of them. It’s not safe to have a single RCD protecting multiple electrical circuits. Each circuit should have its own RCD.


Full switchboard safety checks in Melbourne


When you need a certified Melbourne electrician to check your switchboard safety, speak to STL Electrical. We have many years of experience in ensuring that home electrical systems are safe and perform optimally. You can contact us at any time.

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