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01. Why should I get my building’s electrical system inspected?
Older buildings, in particular, can have serious electrical conditions that need to be expertly inspected and fixed by a qualified electrician. Electrical fires that start behind your walls can be among the most serious and deadly. Occupants and smoke alarms may not detect an electrical fire until it is fully engulfed, giving you less time and fewer options for escape. Having your building inspected by a trained electrical professional, such as a qualified electrician, is a simple step to protect lives and property.02. Who would be considered a “qualified electrician?”
A qualified electrician is a trained professional who has skills, knowledge, and experience related to the installation and repair of electrical wiring and equipment. These electricians should be familiar with the requirements of the electrical wiring code in the localities in which they work. A good source of information about qualified entities is the Electrical Contractors’ Association of South Africa. Visit http://ecasa.co.za/03. How much does an electrical inspection cost?
For a variety of reasons, the cost of an electrical inspection may vary although it is typically small in comparison to other costs related to a building, whether residential, commercial or industrial. Most importantly, the value of such an inspection is clear. By identifying potential hazards before a dangerous situation occurs, you will be protecting lives and assets.04. My electrical outlets look new. How do I know if there is a problem in my building?
Real electrical system dangers can exist and may remain hidden within and “behind the walls”, particularly of older buildings. The best way to assess and improve the electrical safety of your building’s electrical system is to have it inspected by a qualified engineer or electrician.05. Many electrical products look similar if not identical. How do I know that I am buying a safe product?
When selecting electrical fittings be careful not to have your decision governed by price alone. Sub-standard products are invariably cheaper but can entail a severe risk of injury or death, or damage or destruction of property. Ask for a brand you can trust or, if the product is subject to regulations, insist on credible proof of certification (see “Standards & Regulations”). If it is not a regulated product, at least ask for references of users and make sure the product has been used and has been effective for a protracted period. In this regard, members of the SAFEhouse Association are committed to a constitution that assures users of adherence to safety regulations and a principled code of conduct.06. Can I do my own wiring?
Electricity is a leading cause of fires in South Africa. Even what some might think of as a “minor” problem can lead to a fire. And working with electrical circuits requires particular precautions to avoid electrocution. Therefore, unqualified individuals should never attempt to do their own wiring or install electrical products that require the expertise of a qualified electrician. In the case of new products, the supplier will usually specify the requirement for its installation. If in doubt, consult a qualified engineer or electrician but do not take chances doing it yourself.07. What type of wiring should my building have?
If wiring is properly installed and maintained, even older wiring can continue to perform effectively and safely. Problems can occur in any type of wiring when it has not been properly installed or maintained. Problems also occur when changes, that did not meet well-recognized and proven safety provisions, have been made in the electrical system after the building was originally constructed. For older buildings, it is critical that their entire electrical system is inspected by a qualified electrician. Consult qualified professionals to find out what wiring would best suit your building and the electrical equipment and activities within it.08. What kinds of electrical safety hazards can I look for on my own?
• Check electrical cables and cords to make sure the wires are not damaged, cracked or loose. If wiring needs to be repaired, take the item to a professional repair shop, hire a qualified electrician, or replace the item with a new one.
• Make sure the wiring is not running across doorways or under carpets and avoid pinching wiring against walls or furniture. If necessary, have a qualified electrician install more outlets.
• Earth-fault relays and circuit breakers reduce the risk of electric shock by interrupting the electrical circuit when a hazard exists. Your building should have adequate circuit breakers and other protection equipment installed to cater for the nature of your electrical installation. Only a qualified engineer or electrician can provide a properly-designed arrangement to suit your electrical requirements.
• Remember that electrical system dangers may exist and can remain hidden in older buildings. The best way to assess and improve the electrical safety of your home is to have your home inspected by a trained electrical professional.
• In the case of a residential installation ask the professional you employ to especially consider the following locations for proper protection of the electrical circuits: bathrooms, kitchen countertop outlets, near wet-bar, laundry and utility sinks, in garages and other such buildings, in any unfinished spaces, outdoors, near a pool, or just about anywhere else you’re likely to encounter water or dampness.09. Call a qualified electrician if you have
- Recurring problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers.
- A tingling feeling when you touch an electrical appliance or other metal objects.
- Discoloured or warm wall outlets.
- A persistent burning smell or rubbery odor coming from an appliance, room, or area.
- Flickering lights.
- Sparks from an outlet.
- Animal or insect infestation with the possibility of them gnawing on wiring.
- Degradation due to moisture or flood damage.
- Older buildings with outdated wiring that may show signs of cracking or damage to the wire insulation.
- Always consult a qualified electrician before undertaking any work on your electrical system.
- In terms of the law no property may be transferred without a valid certificate of compliance (CoC) for the electrical installation. Certificates of compliance, which must be issued by a registered person, are only valid for two years and also need to be re-issued if any work has been done on the electrical installation in the interim.