Electrical Safety Switches

In Queensland, safety switches are mandatory on power circuits in new homes, rentals, and older homes as they’re sold but this doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade sooner and get new or additional switches installed. At North Lakes & Surrounds Electrical, we recommend a safety switch for each circuit that you have .e.g one for lighting, one for power points, and one for hardwire appliances like your dishwasher and oven. However, depending on your home’s size, whether you have solar or other appliances, you may need more. For more information and to ensure your home is electrically safe, get in touch with us today at (07) 3053 3118.

What is a safety switch? 

Safety switches, otherwise known as a residual current device (RCD), is a little device in your electrical box that safeguards against electrical shocks. They monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit and detect imbalances in the live and neutral wires which can occur when the current is travelling through something else (like a person) potentially causing an electric shock. They shut off the electricity supply in 0.03 seconds when current leakage is detected which is faster than a single heartbeat! 

What’s the difference between a safety switch and a circuit breaker? 

Circuit breakers are also designed to quickly cut the power but they are more intended for instance where there is a high current fault or overload that may cause a hazard such as a fire. Safety switches shut off the electrical supply when it detects a leakage to earth. You can think of them as the one that protects wiring and appliances (circuit breaker) and one that protects people (safety switch). You can tell the difference by the ‘T’ or ‘test’ button on the front face of a safety switch. If they do not have this, they are likely to be circuit breakers. 

Why is my safety switch tripping? 

There are a number of reasons why your safety switch might trip and you can always tell when this has happened because the switch will flip itself to the ‘off’ position. If it is still on, but your power is off, then your safety switch is not the issue. If your safety switch is sitting in the off position, you need to get to the bottom of why it has tripped which could include, but is not limited to: 

  • A temporary electrical fault 
  • Rain damage caused by heavy falls 
  • Thunder, lightning, and electrical storms can trigger RCD sensors 
  • Damaged wiring that has worn out over time
  • Nuisance tripping which occurs when too many appliances are running at once
  • A faulty safety switch 

Some of these can resolve on their own or are a simple fix, however, if it is a common occurrence, we recommend getting in touch with our team of professional electricians at North Lakes & Surrounds Electrical on (07) 3053 3118.

Safety switch testing

Safety switches can be easily tested using the ‘test’ button and it is recommended to do so every one to three months to ensure the mechanism continues to work freely and does not get stuck due to dirt and grime build up. To test your own safety switch is a straightforward process – all it requires is to push the button marked ‘T’ or ‘test’. If the safety switch flicks off and cuts the power to the intended circuits, it is working correctly. If it doesn’t turn off the power, contact our team immediately as there is likely a fault. After testing, turn the safety switch back on.

Safety switch laws

The Queensland Government has several rules and regulations regarding the fitment of safety switches in homes. Find the relevant one to you below: 

All new homes built or extended after 1992 but before 2000: Safety switches have been compulsory on all new homes in Queensland since 1992. Safety switches must also be fitted to all power point circuits when new electrical installations occurs, such as a general power outlet (GPO).

All new homes built or extended after 2000: Safety switches have been compulsory on all power point and lighting circuits for new Queensland homes built since 2000, following the change in Wiring Rules. Homes that have had the electrical installation extended to include additional lighting and power point circuits are required to have safety switch protection on both lighting and power point circuits.

Buying a property: If you buy a property without a safety switch, you must install a safety switch for the power point circuits within three months of a property transfer. This applies to any transfer of domestic premises.

Selling a property: If you sell a property, you first establish if a safety switch is installed for power point circuits, which must be declared on the standard sales contract and Form 24 Property Transfer.

Renting a home: A landlord renting out a home must ensure a safety switch has been installed for the power points within six months of the tenancy agreement, if there is not a safety switch already present.

Contact us 

If you would like more information regarding safety switches and their installation in your home, give us a call today at (07) 3053 3118. We open 7 days a week and offer emergency electrician services in North Lakes and beyond. All our electricians are experienced and fully insured, plus we have a workmanship guarantee to ensure you get excellent service each and every time you choose to hire us.