The Big 4 Household Electrical Systems You Need Checked Annually To Secure A Safe Home.

Electricity allows us to watch TV, cruise the internet, charge our phones and keeps our home, work and life running. Overall, it’s a pretty good thing – and one we wouldn’t want to live without.

But what about the other side of things?

The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare reported in 2007 that the average rate for hospitalization for Australians was 3.78 for every 100,000 people, per year. Though this number isn’t incredibly high, that equates to almost 1500 Australians being hospitalized on account of electrical injury every year.

This clearly proves that electrical hazards are real and they aren’t all that uncommon…

But what if you could plan to avoid these hazards?

Though each home has numerous potential electrical hazards, the following article will outline what we believe to be the 4 things that you must have checked annually for a safe home.

By the end of reading this, you should have a better understanding of the big 4, what they are, why they’re important and how you can prevent electrical injury in your home.

 

1. Smoke Alarms

According to the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS), non-working smoke alarms increases the risk of dying in a house fire by 80%.

Furthermore, when testing smoke alarms in South Australia (SA), they found that up to 45% of homes DID NOT have smoke alarms that triggered properly.

These figures are truly astonishing considering the cultural acceptance and belief in smoke alarms.

These numbers clearly outline the importance of working smoke alarms in the home.

But how do you ensure a fully-functioning and operational smoke alarm?

Scott Bretag, CEO and Founder of Pulse Electrical outlines how the professionals manage and maintain smoke alarms:

'So smoke alarms really need to be tested every 12 months. Now, some people can do that on their own, and that's literally there's a button that they press, which says 'test'. But often, most people reach it and they don't know what's it's doing. But what we do when we test, and it's not only do we press that button, we make sure that the battery's right.

We often will just replace the battery anyway. And we also do what's called a smoke test. You can actually get a can of smoke. So, like an aerosol. And it doesn't smoke the house out, but it just provides enough smoke that we know that it's actually going to function, if there is a fire.

And along with that, the smoke alarm gets cleaned, because if it starts getting dust particles and stuff in it, it can stop to work. And I guess, the only other test that we do is that when we do the test then we'll do the test button, is that let's say you have three smoke alarms in a house. The laws are now that if one goes off, all three have to go off. It's what's called an interconnect, so they're just all interconnected...That's every bedroom, including the main living room, kitchen. And no one's house has that' 

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

Scott Bretag,
CEO & Founder
Pulse Electrical

Scott is passionate about exceeding expectation for his clients – both through his own actions and those of his staff.

With over 15 years in the business, he is an expert when it comes to home electrical safety.

The laws Scott is refering to now require Queensland (QLD) homes to have interconnected Australian Standard (AS) photoelectric smoke alarms in all bedrooms, hallways (where bedrooms are connected) and on each and every level of the residence. This applies to homes where building appliations were lodged after 1st January 2017.

Additionally, requirements for other homes will be phased in over 10 years. Interconnected AS 3786-2014 photoelectric smoke alarms will be required from:  

1 January 2022 in all homes leased and sold 

1 January 2027 in all other homes.

 

With the addition of these new laws, it’s clear that the government also reinforces the importance of working smoke alarms and the need to have them regularly maintained.

The last thing Scott had to say on smoke alarms was simply, that he believes they are the most important aspect of home electrical safety. Scott implores all residents to strongly consider their current smoke alarm setup and to make sure that they are functional and up-to-standard at all time to ensure the protection of all members of the home.

Why is smoke alarm maintenance important: ‘Saves lives. And it’s the one contributor to people not dying in house fires.’

If you’re worried about the current state of your smoke alarms, Pulse Electrical offers an annual home-safety inspection and maintenance package that will ensure the working order of your smoke alarms, and safety of your home. For full details, simply click the link below.

2. Solar Panels

Solar panels are genearlly seen as a welcome addition to most homes.

Something people may not fully understand is the required maintenance and upkeep required to ensure not only the safety of your system, but also, that you are getting the best return on the system.

On the matter of getting the most out of solar power, Scott stated the following:

People don't know that, and the only time they find that out is when they get a power bill and they're like,

"Hang on. I usually make $500 a quarter. Now I made $3. What the hell's going on?"

And they don't realize that. And it could even be like, I could literally get a little piece of garnishing. If I put that anywhere on a solar panel, it will stop that cell from generating.

That'll stop the whole system from working.

So, if you have a bird mess on it, which happens all the time, or you get a lot of dust, a lot of dust or dirt sits on the panel, they won't work as effectively.

So, part of what we do is we check the system to make sure that it's operating the way it's meant to be. And then, also cleaning the panels as well to make sure that they're working absolutely as effectively as possible. That's pretty much solar.

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

With the average solar system costing anywhere from $2000-$6500, there’s a fair capital outlay to purchasing and installing a system. However, as Scott states – without proper maintenance the systems effeciency can be jeopardised.

This can cost residents hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

Team that with the costs of electricity, seeminly constantly increasing – it’s fair to see why taking care of your solar panels is so important.

But you’re probably wondering…’What does this have to do with home safety?’

To better answer that, we need to look at how you maintain your solar panels.

'So, if you need to go on the roof, you need to a roof harness. It's just not something that I would tell my customer. Additionally, the average resident is unlikely to remember to clean their panels. Even if I did tell them to go up there (on their roof) it's unlikely that they will feel confident or safe to do so.

Even if you can do it, do you wanna do it? For myself. It's like, if I can earn more in my job than I can to pay someone else to do the job, I'd rather just pay it and get it done properly. So, I think that's a big one as well. So, it's important because it's saving them money, it's ensuring that their system's working properly, I guess.

So why is it a problem? Obviously, that can cost people thousands of dollars a year. Simple as that.

Additionally, a lot of systems, they do deteriorate. There's a lot components within a system, and we also check all that stuff as well. Obviously, the panels are bolted down onto the roof. So, if you've got a couple of screws that are starting to get rusty or corrode, and you get a wicked storm, all of a sudden, the panels just blow off the roof. So, we also go through a check to make sure that everything's right, certain electrical things aren't full of water. Just little things that just to make sure.

It's like getting a service in a car. They shouldn't just drop your oil and put new oil in. They're meant to check your belts, anything else that looks ... If there's a big, rusty thing there, they'll replace that. It's much the same, if that makes sense.

Oh and the bigges thing I would want to pass on about solar panels...how dangerous they can be.

Because they run on DC voltage. So, direct current as opposed to AC. And when they have a short out or a problem, well...Electricity just goes, "Bang." Right? And it just blows up. AC does, whereas DC, it holds. Because the current wave is direct, when it's DC the electricity can break apart a bit easier. That's my biggest concern when it comes to solar panels and safety.

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

So as you can see – solar power maintenance is both important and a hazardous activity.

We fully recommend that if you are planning on doing the maintenance yourself to have all necessary equipment, complete understanding of what you’re doing and if possible – recommendation from the solar company or an electrical professional.

If you’re wanting to ensure safe upkeep of your solar panels, or just want to get the most out of them – this is included in our annual home-safety inspection and maintenance package that will ensure the working order of your solar panels. For full details, simply click the link below.

3. Air Conditioners

The Air Conditioner is probably the most appreciated household appliance for Australian residents.

With approximately 2/3 homes having an air conditioner installed, it’s something that most Australians will have to maintain during their life time.

But how do you take care of an AC? Scott gave us his opinion on how he and the Pulse team deal with the situation:

'So, with air conditioners, what we do is, we do a couple of tests with them. So, what we do is we clean the filters, which is just a matter of pulling the basic filters out and cleaning them. We also do what's called a temperature test. So, we have a specialized thermometer that we use.

We pretty much just set up in front of a grill, and then we crank the aircon up. And we know that if the aircon doesn't get to a certain temperature, that there's actually something wrong with it. As the compressor starts to fail, it won't get as cold.

People say, "Ah, yeah, my air conditioner's been working. It's just not been working as good."

So, that's a pretty good sign. And then, while we're there as well, we can offer an air conditioning clean. We put this special bag over the indoor unit. We pull a few things apart, and we actually get into the coils of the actual air conditioner with a special chemical and almost a mini, little high pressure hose. And clean all the bacteria.

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

Again, the question you’re probably asking is 

‘How does Air Conditioning maintenance ensure a safe home?’

And rightly so…

The simple answer, airborne bacteria and mould.

'What comes out of it is absolutely horrendous. And even one that's six months old, it's just ... And you're talking all your airborne ... Mold and stuff like that gets in there. So, from a health perspective, it's obviously a no-brainer.

Pretty much every single time we've ever done an air conditioner clean and the person's seen what comes out of it, they automatically book six, 12 months time. They're absolutely gobsmacked because that's the quality of air that's coming into the house.

So, what happens is the air gets sucked up from the actual unit. It essentially gets sucked in through the room, through the top section, and then comes out the bottom section before going through a set of cooling bins - A bit like a radiator. So, as it keeps doing that, it just keeps picking up.

Honestly, I have an air conditioner at my house I was gonna replace. It wasn't working. It was a real big expense on that - $3,000. And one of my guys said, "Look, what if I clean it first? Because you never know. Sometimes that can be the problem." I thought, "Whatever. There's no way it is."

So much filth came out of that. Now, that air conditioner works perfectly. Didn't have to replace it. It was just there being so filthy - It was horrendous.

My theory is that mold in couple years time will become the new asbestos.

So, the airborne mold particles are scientifically so bad for you that ... It's unbelievable, the science that's behind it - I'd highly recommend people look into it for their own safety. So, that why we recommend this to people now. It's just, gets the system clean so, it's just giving you peace of mind that the air that you're breathing in is actually nice and clean.

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

Hopefully this gives you some insight into the importance of air conditioning maintenance and better equips you in understanding the problem at hand.

If you are planning on doing the maintenance yourself, we recommend contacting your air conditioning manufacturer or distributor and equipping yourself with the correct safety apparatus. Above all else, please be careful with what you breathe in around the by-products of your AC unit.

If you’re wanting to ensure safe upkeep of your air conditioner – this is included in our annual home-safety inspection and maintenance package that will ensure the working order of your AC and cleaner air for you and your family. For full details, simply click the link below.

4. Safety Switches

Now here’s something most people do think of when it comes to electrical protection: Safety Switches

According to worksafeqld:

‘Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit and turn off the power in a fraction of a second if a leakage of current is detected. Safety switches provide personal protection against electric shock.’

Put simply – they ensure protection for power users within a residence.

But did you know that your safety switch actually needs to be checked in order to maintain peak performance? Here’s what Scott had to say on safety switches:

The problem is and what people don't realize is that they're relying on something mechanical in their switchboard that no one ever checks.

And that event, when it happens, and it happens to everyone, you know. People edge through the cord or they leave an extension lead in the water, or whatever, it happens all the time, and people just go, “Oh, yeah. The safety switch has tripped,” and they keep on going... It happens all the time. “Ah, yeah. My safety switch is just tripping flat out. It won't reset. It must be broken.” And 99% percent of the time we get there and we say,

“Actually, your microwave is ruined and that switch actually saved your life,”

and you throw the microwave away. And people go, “Oh, cool. Yeah, sweet. I get a new microwave.” They don't think,

“Oh, hang on. I probably nearly died.”

So, the idea with the safety switch test is making sure that is actually going to trip, and there's two ways it can be done. There's one where there's a test button which most people ... Well, generally no one does it but a household person could just press the button and it trips down. And what we do is, we have a special meter that literally puts a bit of resistance over it, which actually simulates a fault, to make sure that it's actually going to mechanically trip.

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

Clearly there is an undisputed need for the functionality of safety switches…

Put simply – they save lives.

But how then can you go about taking care of things? Scott explains below:

'I mean, nowadays your lights are actually on a safety switch as well, and fans. Most houses are. Not all, but most houses are. So, pretty much everything, most things are safety switch to prevent you from hurting yourself, but in that electrical check we of course look through everything else in the board to identify whether there's cables that are dangerous, and to makes sure they've actually got an earth stake - which is hugely important.

Without this, people can die anyway.

And we go to houses every day that don't have them. Literally for some reason, it's got an old earth stake that's driven into the ground near where the switchboard is, and it's corroded and old. And you don't actually have any reference to earth, so you're fully relying on Energex or Ergon's infrastructure to provide that kind of safety.

I'm a big one for doing things like that, but I think a lot of people, especially in Australia. It's like the, “She'll be right,” mentality and then it's like, “That's great,” until she's not right and then someone dies or something else horrific.

That's not usually that dramatic, but yes - it's a serious issue. I don't want anyone to get hurt. I know people die from electricity. They don't usually survive. They usually just die. I would be like, “Ok, I just want to get that handled.” And we're talking, this would probably cost someone, once a year, $150-350. It's not a lot.

Scott Bretag, CEO Pulse Electrical Tweet

We hope that this insight has given you a better understanding of the importance of safety switches and the recommended maintenance of the system.

If you are planning on doing the maintenance yourself, we recommend contacting your energy provider or electrician to ensure the safest and most correct procedures. Please also ensure the correct safety gear when handling anything electrical.

If you’re wanting to ensure safe upkeep of your safety switches – this is included in our annual home-safety inspection and maintenance package that will ensure personal protection for your home residence. For full details, simply click the link below.

Conclusion

We hope that this article has improved your awareness regarding electrical protection, maintenance and residential safety. Whether it’s your smoke alarms, solar panels, air conditioning unit or safety switches we strongly recommend thorough understanding, precautioin and due-diligence when handling the matter.

If you’re looking for more specific answers, or just wanting to ask questions our Pulse Team is more than happy to answer your questions anytime on 1300 478 573

Furthermore, if you’re interested in having these household systems checked and taken care of by a professional, simply follow the link below.

From Scott and the whole team at Pulse – we appreciate your time in reading this and hope to serve you and your household in having a happy, powered and safe home in the future.