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Common Electrical Questions Answered

A lot of us have been on holidays the past few weeks, myself included. In amongst heading to the beach and eating loads, it is pretty common to get stuck into some jobs around the home over the Christmas break. I have been cleaning cupboards and painting walls. What about when it comes to electrical jobs? What can you do yourself? Most of us get a little nervous at the thought of doing a home job that involves electricity, rightfully so. If you stuff it up you are not just going to end up with Christmas decorations in the wrong box or paint on your door handles, you could actually get electrocuted. 

This got me thinking, what electrical jobs can you actually do yourself and how do you do them safely? 

Well fortunately for me I live with an electrician, so we sat down to have a chat. Here are the answers to some common electrical question we get asked. 

Can I change a ceiling fan myself? 

No. It is illegal in Australia to do DIY (do it yourself) electrical work. It can be really dangerous. Give an electrician a call. 

Can I change a light bulb myself? 

Yes. It may seem like a silly question but many people would not know how to do this. Here are some simple steps.

  1. Turn off the light you are changing at the wall, socket or lamp. This will ensure you cannot be electrocuted. 
  2. Making sure the bulb is cool, remove the old bulb from the light. Light bulbs in Australia usually come in 2 fittings, bayonet and screw cap. Bayonet light bulbs need to be pushed down and then lifted up and out in an anti-clockwise direction. Screw Cap light bulbs need to be twisted in an anti-clockwise direction to be removed. 
  3. Insert the new light bulb using the reverse method of how you removed it. 
  4. Test that the new bulb is working by turning your light back on at the wall or socket. 
  5. Wrap the old bulb in newspaper and put in the rubbish. 

Can I change the light in a ceiling fan?

Yes. Twist off the light cover and then follow the above steps. 

What does it mean if my power point is sparking?

Switches that have a spark when switched without an appliance plugged into them are generally faulty. The mechanism in them may have gone or they could be of inferior quality. Do not use the power point until you have it checked by an electrician. Also only use good quality products.  We only use Clipsal. 

My lights are flickering. Is this dangerous and what should I do?

Yes, this can be dangerous. A flickering light is normally an indication of a loose connection in the fitting or light switch. Loose connections can overheat and cause a fire. Have the connection checked by an electrician as soon as possible. 

What is the difference between a circuit breaker and a safety switch? Do I need both?

A circuit breaker limits the flow of electricity through a specific circuit in your home preventing it from being overloaded. Overloaded circuits can lead to a fire. A safety switch saves lives by stopping the flow of electricity quickly in an emergency.  It is important to have both of these to maximise the safety of your family. 

Why does my circuit breaker trip so often?

This is a question we often get asked by people who have just bought a new house. Often an old house. They move in and plug in all their mod-cons. Usually, a tripping circuit breaker means the circuit is overloaded. This usually happens more in winter when heaters are plugged into power points. Trying plugging appliances into another power point. Preferably on the other side of the house. This will hopefully be on a different circuit. If this does not fix the problem you may need to have a new circuit installed. For more information on safety switches read here.

Are my smoke alarms ok?

Having working smoke alarms is essential to ensuring the safety of your family. It can be confusing though as to which type to have. Firstly, any is better than none. Here are the top 5 things to look out for

  1. If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old replace it.
  2. Battery – smoke alarms have a built-in monitor that warns you to change the battery by beeping every few seconds. Do not ignore this warning. 
  3. Test – you can test your smoke alarm by pressing the test button. 
  4. Australian only – make sure your smoke alarm meets Australian standards. 

For more information, read more about the regulations and types of smoke alarms.

If you have any other electrical questions you would like answered please email them through to us at info@www.dawsonelectric.com.au

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