For safety using electrical tools:

  • use an isolating transformer or residual current device (RCD) when using electrical tools outside. An RCD monitors the electric current flowing through a circuit. If you touch a live wire or faulty equipment and electricity flows through you to the ground, the RCD senses the reduction in current and shuts off the electricity. This reduces the risk of a serious or fatal injury
  • do not use electrical tools with extension cords outside in wet conditions – use cordless tools instead
  • turn off the power when replacing fuses
  • don’t work close to underground or overhead power lines
  • do not overload circuits
  • never used equipment with damaged of frayed cords
  • arrange for the utility company to temporarily disconnect the power at the pole when working near power supply lines such as when painting the outside of the house.

Power cables are often run along bearers and joists under a suspended floor. When installing underfloor insulation with steel staples, turn off the power at the mains if there are electric cables present as it is extremely important not to staple through a live electricity cable – electrocution can result. Four New Zealanders have died after doing this.

Retrofitting and repairing foil underfloor insulation was banned on 1 July 2016. Be extremely careful with existing foil insulation because there is a risk that it may be electrically live. Look at NZECP 55 (NZ Electrical Code of Practice 55) for guidance on removing or working around existing foil insulation.

Homeowners doing their own electrical work

Most electrical wiring work must be carried out by a qualified and licensed electrician. However, under the Electricity Act 1992 (Section 79) homeowners can carry out some domestic electrical wiring work on their own homes. The work has to comply with the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 (Part 5, Regulation 57) and NZECP 51.

Homeowners should only consider doing their own electrical work if they have the knowledge, skills, experience and tools to do it safely. Unsafe electrical work is illegal and may make a house insurance policy void.

Homeowners can:

  • remove and replace fuse links
  • connect and disconnect fixed-wired appliances
  • relocate existing switches, socket outlets and lighting outlets that are supplied with electricity by tough plastic-sheathed cables
  • remove and replace the following fittings, as long as it doesn’t involve work on a switchboard:
    • switches, socket outlets and light fittings
    • permanent connection units, ceiling roses, cord-grip lamp-holders and flexible cords connected to any of them
    • batten holders
    • water heater switches
    • thermostats
    • elements.

Homeowners can also install, extend and alter subcircuits (including submains), provided that:

  • they do not enter any enclosure where live conductors are likely to be present, and
  • the work is tested and certified by a licensed inspector before being it is connected to a power supply.

Landlords and business owners cannot carry out electrical work in their rental properties or workplaces unless they have the applicable practicing license(s).

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Licensed Electrical Workers

Certain types of electrical work may only be carried out by licensed electrical workers, who also certify their work by supplying a Certificate of Compliance. You can check that an electrical worker is licensed on the Electrical Workers Register.

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