RCD switches and smoke alarms save lives every day around Australia.
As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your RCD switch and smoke detector is properly maintained and in working order – even if your property is let or rented to a permanent tenant.
While the devices seem simple, you will need to hire a qualified electrician to install hard-wired smoke detectors and/or an RCD mains switch. Doing so ensures that all works carried out are compliant and safe.
Common causes of household fires
One of the most important things you can do to prevent a house fire is to have an electrician check that your smoke alarms and RCD safety switches are in correct working order. It’s also worthwhile considering what fire prevention options are available, including fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems or renovating with fire retardant materials.
Electrical fires in Australian homes are most often caused by:
- Faulty outlets and old, outdated appliances, or appliance cords, receptacles and switches
- Light fixtures, lamps and light bulks
- Misuse of extensions cords
- Outdated wiring
What is an RCD?
RCD stands for Residual Current Device, otherwise known as a safety switch. RCD technology replaced the old wire ‘fuse’ that was common in older homes.
An RCD safety switch helps prevent serious electrical shocks (and reduces fire risk) by quickly stopping the electrical current in a building if there is a short circuit, a circuit overload, or a ground fault. The switch continuously monitors the current in a building and detects any imbalance in the flow.
It’s an Australian Wiring Regulation to have at least one RCD installed in your home to protect against household electrical fires. With a greater reliance on electrical appliances in modern homes, it may be the right time for an RCD upgrade through a licensed electrician.
A licensed electrician can install an RCD switch in your home and should provide you with an electrical safety certificate. However, if an existing RCD safety switch is constantly tripping, it’s worth asking for a full inspection as to the cause of the circuit issues.
Is it illegal not to have a smoke alarm?
Since 1997, it has been made a legal requirement that hard-wired smoke alarms are installed into new properties and older properties undergoing significant renovations, by the Building Code of Australia.
It’s not just a legal requirement, the peace of mind alone is worth the small investment. Smoke detectors offer a potentially life-saving warning to respond to a fire in the home, reducing the scale of property damage.
The average home in Australia should have at least two hard-wired smoke alarms, and apartment blocks or multi-storey buildings must have smoke alarms installed on each level. Modern smoke alarms have a non-removable battery designed to last 10 years. Upon reaching the use-by date, the alarm will need to be replaced.
Smoke detectors are generally inexpensive but more sophisticated models that also act as a carbon-monoxide monitor can cost many times more.
It’s recommended that smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas and in all paths of travel between sleeping areas and exits to the open air. Where possible, smoke alarms should not be located near bathrooms, laundry areas or kitchens.
Do you need an RCD switch or smoke alarm installed in your home?
Pascoe’s Plumbers and Electricians, our licensed electricians are available 24/7 to undertake the fitting of a safety package, which consists of a powerboard upgrade and the installation of two hard-wired smoke alarms
Get in touch with us today, and we will be in touch to confirm our availability!