Lightning Strike – Is Your Home Safe?

Lightning Strike – Is Your Home Safe?

There have been some spectacular lightning storms around northern Tasmania in the last few weeks.

While they can be fun to watch, from safe inside your home, lightning is a powerful and potentially dangerous force of nature.

Every year between 5 and 10 people are killed by lightning strike in Australia and around 100 seriously injured.

Lightning has the potential to seriously damage electrical installations as well as humans.

A direct lightning strike on your house could cause damage to your switchboard and wiring and appliances. Delicate electronic equipment such as computers and TVs are especially vulnerable.

There are surge protection devices available but they are more for filtering out smaller power spikes and fluctuations and are probably not built to withstand a lightning strike.

In the event of a major electrical storm it would be safer to unplug electronic devices and appliances such as computers, stereos, TVs, microwaves, dishwashers and washing machines.

Even when there is not a direct hit a lightning strike can cause damage.

One of our Launceston clients had a tree in their yard struck by lightning.  Some roots of the tree went under the corner of the house.  When lightning struck the tree it travelled into the ground and along the roots.

Ceramic tiles were blown off the floor of the laundry and were found embedded in the plaster ceiling.

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t use the telephone during a thunder storm.  At the same property, described above, the landline phone was blown off the wall and shot across the room.

If your property does suffer even an indirect strike it would be wise to get an inspection of the electrical installation.

We removed some damaged power cable from our Launceston client’s house and found that the plastic insulation was not melted as we expected but was jaggedly split apart. It looked as though the copper wire had suddenly expanded to many times its normal size and split the surrounding insulation.

You are relatively safe inside a building, however you should not use the land line phone, not touch metal sinks or any part of the plumbing system – including staying out of the bath or shower – and not use or touch appliances that are plugged into a power point.

 

If you are caught outside in a thunder storm the current safety recommendations are:

Seek shelter in a substantial building or in a metal roofed car.

Avoid high ground and open areas and don’t shelter under trees.

Do not use umbrellas, golf clubs or fishing rods.

Avoid small buildings such as sheds and barns if possible.

Stay away from water and metal structures such as fences and rails.

If there is no shelter, crouch down and keep your feet together, or sit with your feet close to your body. Keep at least three metres away from other people.

A full 50% of lightning deaths in Australia occur after a storm has seemingly passed, as people resume their outdoor activities too soon.

You should wait 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before venturing outdoors.  Lightning can strike many kilometres away from where the actual storm appears to be.

If you can hear thunder you are in the potential lightning strike zone.

Despite the violent nature of a thunderstorm the chances of being killed by lightning are small.  Far more people die from falling out of bed than are killed by lightning each year.

Take sensible precautions to ensure you don’t become one of the rare statistics.

To arrange an inspection and report on the condition of the wiring in your property phone Mance Electrical on 6331 4711

New LED Down Lights

New LED Down Lights

Getting Cheaper And Better All The Time

 

  • Cheaper To Run
  • Cheaper To Maintain
  • Safer To Operate
  • Easy To Install

LED down lights have greatly improved over the last year or so.  There are many new brands on the market and prices have dropped by around 50%.

The new lights on offer are more compact, with the LED drivers built in to the light fitting instead of having a separate driver that plugs into the light.  This makes them easier to install, especially in confined spaces.

Some new LED downlights can even be completely covered by insulation without causing overheating problems.

Overheating is a big safety issue with the old style down lights.  The dichroic lamps burn at up to 300 degrees and there are restrictions on clearances to timber and flammable materials.

The safety regulations were often ignored and a large number of homes have been damaged by fire as a result.

Click Here to read our in-depth article on The Dangers Of Old Style Down Lights

LED down lights solve all the safety problems caused by old downlights as they run very cool in comparison.

LED down lights are also much cheaper to run and have much lower maintenance costs as well.

The quality of light output has improved dramatically, with fittings available from 8 watts to 15 watts, with a choice of warm white, neutral or cool white output, so it’s easy to find a suitable down light for your situation.

Many fittings are dimmable too, which gives you even more options.  The only proviso is you must match the correct dimmer to your light fitting to ensure the best result and avoid flickering or a limited dimming range.

 

There is also a choice in style and colour of the fittings themselves.  LED downlights are available in either white, brushed chrome or brass finish.  The diffuser on the front face can be slightly recessed or flush with the trim ring

LED down lights are available in sizes that will directly replace the common sizes of old style downlights so swapping over to new fittings is usually a straight forward job.

Switching to LED lights will save you at least 80% on running costs.  Depending on the amount you use the lights, the pay back time could be less than a year.  The more you use the lights, the more money you will save.

 

Replace your old unsafe down lights with new LEDs.  Save money and reduce the risk of fire in your home.  Phone Mance Electrical on 6331 4711.

Does Your Stove Have An Anti Tilt Bracket?

Does Your Stove Have An Anti Tilt Bracket?

Anti Tilt Brackets Are Required To Be Fitted To All New Freestanding Stoves

A modern stove without an anti tilt bracket can easily tip forward, causing serious injury – usually to young children.

The most common type of injury happens when the young child pulls down the oven door and stands on the door as a step to get higher up.  The stove tilts forward, spilling boiling liquid onto the child, often causing horrendous injuries.

In order to prevent these injuries, all new stoves are supplied with an anti tilt bracket.  These metal brackets are usually designed to be screwed to the floor.  When the stove is pushed back against the wall the bracket locks onto the stove feet or a into slot in the back of the stove.

When the anti tilt bracket is correctly installed and the stove is pushed back against the wall, the bracket prevents the stove from tipping forward.  To comply with Australian Standards an anti tilt bracket should be able to withstand up to 50kg of weight applied to the door.

New stoves are much lighter compared to the old stoves they replace and most of the weight is at the top.   This means it is usually easier to tip over a new stove than an old one.

Currently, there is no requirement to fit an anti tilt bracket to an existing stove if it doesn’t have one.  But if you remove your old stove and install a new one you must fit the anti tilt device supplied by the manufacturer and according to the manufacturers instructions.

Some cheaper stoves have chains designed to be fixed to the wall behind the stove.  The chain system will only be effective if the chain is kept quite short and the end of the chain is fixed to a wall stud, not just screwed into the plaster.  The floor mounted anti tilt brackets are usually a better solution.

We have carried out repairs on plenty of fairly new stoves that have been installed without an anti tilt bracket.   Some installers are ignoring the regulations and installing new stoves without the brackets that prevent the stove tipping forward.

It is quicker and easier to toss the anti tilt bracket out with the stove packaging and pretend there is no such thing. However, any installer who does this is ignoring the manufacturers installation instructions and the Australian Standards and placing children’s lives at risk in order to save a few dollars.

When you get a new freestanding stove make sure your installer fits the correct anti tilt bracket to prevent the stove tipping, including the pin that prevents the stove sliding forward away from the anti tilt bracket.

When you book your job, make sure the installer you choose will remove your old stove and dispose of it free of charge!

And once your anti tilt bracket is securely fixed in place make sure you don’t leave pot handles hanging over the front of the stove where young children could reach up and grab them.

For Stove Change Overs In Launceston And Surrounding Areas Phone Mance Electrical on 63331 4711

The Difference Between An Electrician And An Electrical Contractor

The Difference Between An Electrician And An Electrical Contractor

There is an important distinction between an electrician and an electrical contractor.

An electrician is a person who has completed a 4 year apprenticeship, training alongside qualified tradespeople and regularly attending TAFE classes.  In order to become qualified, an apprentice must pass all their TAFE subjects and also the final exam, which is called the Capstone Test.

Once the apprenticeship is completed, the apprentice applies to the local regulator for an electrical practitioners licence.

When the license is granted the tradesperson is authorised to carry out electrical work in accordance with the AS/NZ3000 wiring rules.

Even though they are fully qualified and licenced there is one important restriction for a qualified tradesperson.

A tradesperson is not allowed to carry out electrical work on their own behalf, and charge clients for that work.  In order to conduct an electrical business the practitioner must obtain an electrical contractors license.

Gaining a contractors license requires further study, passing more exams and other requirements such as insurance cover and reporting obligations.

So your average tradesperson cannot set up in business for themselves.  They can only work for a licensed electrical contractor, unless they go through the process of obtaining a contractors license themselves.

Electrical contractors are required to submit paperwork to TasNetworks and the Electrical Inspectors for all but minor electrical works.  This results in their work being regularly inspected to ensure they are complying with the wiring rules and safety regulations.

Back-yarders who work without a contractors license do not advise the regulators of the work they do and subsequently that work is never inspected to make sure it has been done safely and correctly.

Back-yarders also won’t have the required insurance cover which means you could be left holding the bag if something goes wrong.  How do you think your insurance company would react if your home was damaged or destroyed as a result of unlicensed electrical work?

Always use a licensed electrical contractor for any electrical work, no matter how small, to ensure the safety of your family and your  property.

 

Mance Electrical, your licensed and experienced Electrical Contractor in Launceston, since 1920.

Phone us on 6331 4711.

Christmas Lights Survival Guide

Christmas Lights Survival Guide

The Unexpected Dangers Of Christmas Lights

It seems that every year the bar is raised higher and higher in the neighbourhood Christmas lights competition.

Displays are bigger and brighter, with more and more lights added each successive year. Home owners go to a lot of trouble and some of the displays look quite impressive, but did you know there is a dark side to those festive lights?

There are a number of injuries and even deaths each year directly attributed to Christmas lights.  Electrocution, fire and falling off roofs can make the quest for festive lighting a hazardous endeavour.

The major source of problems are old and poorly maintained light strings.

That old set of Christmas tree lights you’ve been dragging out every December for a couple of decades should probably be replaced.  Any lights that operate with 240 volts at the lamp have the potential to cause electric shock or start a fire.

Old Christmas lights can also cause overloaded circuits, a problem that has been solved by new LED lights.

LEDs are ideal for Christmas lights due to their low power consumption, low voltage power supplies and the range of colours that can be produced.  Even with new LED lights there are safety issues you need to to be aware of.

You should only buy your Christmas lights from a reputable local retailer to ensure they are safe and approved for use in Australia.

If you buy online make sure your lights are sent from an Australian based distributor and not sent direct to you from overseas.  It doesn’t guarantee the safety of the lights but it does give you an opportunity to seek redress in the event of a problem.

If you import any electrical product direct from overseas you assume all the responsibilities of an importer and will be personally liable for any problems the lights cause.

If some one is injured by non-compliant lights you will be responsible.  If you home is damaged by fire due to faulty Christmas lights your insurance company may not pay if the lights that caused the damage were not approved for use in Australia.

The usual commonsense safety measures still apply to low voltage or LED lights.

Don’t use lights that have damaged cords, broken lamps or damaged power supplies.

Don’t mix old and new light strings, they are probably not compatible.

Do keep power packs and extension cord connections out of the weather.

Do use a proper ladder for accessing your roof and make sure it is footed correctly and secured at the top if possible.

Do ensure that any lights you buy are approved for use in Australia.

While a good display of Christmas lights can look amazing, some people go just a little too far.

Last year a Townsville man disconnected the street light outside his home in order to make his lighting display stand out more effectively. He removed the cover from the base of the pole and pulled apart the live wiring connections, which disabled the  street light but created a very dangerous situation.

Enjoy your festive lighting display but make sure you keep your family safe as well.

For advice and help with all lighting issues phone us on 6331 4711.  Mance Electrical Launceston

Deadly DIY Electrical

Deadly DIY Electrical

Doing Your Own Electrical Work Is Dumb, Dangerous and Illegal.

The photo above shows one of four lights installed in a Launceston property by a home handyman.

You can see that the red wire – the live wire – is connected directly to the metal body of the light.

If you were to touch the metal part of the light while changing a blown globe you would receive a potentially fatal electric shock.   (more…)

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