What To Do When Your Power Trips

Power Trips
What to do when your power trips

Power trips are one of those annoying things that usually happen at the most inconvenient time. They will often happen in the middle of cooking dinner or when you are hosting a party. For a moment, you may have that dreaded thought that you forgot to pay your power bill.

Nine times out of ten, they will happen outside of business hours. This could mean an expensive call out charge if you have to call an electrician. However, there are some simple steps you can take to try and resolve the problem yourself.

What now?

There are a number of reasons why you might suddenly lose power. You first need to identify whether the problem is with your switchboard or a result of a neighbourhood power outage. If you still have internet access, you can check for outages on the Western Power website.

Otherwise, check your switchboard and if all the breakers are in the on position, the problem is most likely on the supply side. Look for a switch in the off position and try resetting it. If it trips again, you will need to find the cause of the problem.

Sometimes your light and power circuit will be on the same RCD. In this situation, you will need to determine if the problem is with your lights or your power. To do this, switch off all the circuit breakers and turn them back on one at a time. Pay attention to which breakers you are switching on. Turn the circuit breakers on one at a time and if the RCD trips, then the problem is with that circuit. If it trips when you turn on a lighting circuit, you will have to leave the circuit breaker off and call an electrician to attend and fix the problem.

If the RCD trips when you turn a power circuit breaker on, then you need to check that the problem is not being caused by an appliance. Walk around your house and switch off all electrical appliances. Make sure you unplug them too. Try to reset the tripped RCD. If it resets, plug in and turn on the appliances one at a time. If plugging in an appliance causes the RCD to trip, then the problem is likely with that item. Leave it unplugged and reset your RCD.

What if that doesn’t work?

Once you have taken these steps, and the RCD is still tripping, contact us to come and investigate the problem.

How to Maintain Your Smoke Alarm

So you know you have at least one (maybe two depending on the layout of your house) hardwired smoke alarm installed in your house. You probably don’t pay much attention to it but every now and then it gives you a shrieking reminder that your toast is burning. Hey at least it works right?

However will it work when you really need it to? Do you test it regularly? Do you know its expiry date? Did you know that they even have an expiry date? Don’t worry if you don’t, you are one of the many people that are unaware.

In the event of a fire, your smoke alarm is your first warning to get out of the house. When a house fire starts at night, by the time the occupants have awoken to the smell of smoke it’s already too late to escape. Smoke alarms save lives. More accurately, working smoke alarms save lives.

Checking and maintaining your smoke alarm

So how do you check your smoke alarm is working and in date?

Firstly, you should inspect your smoke alarm once a month to ensure it is free from dirt, dust and insects. Use a vacuum or soft bristle brush to carefully clean out the unit.

Every unit will have a test button on the front cover. Always test the unit by pressing this button after cleaning. If the unit gives out an audible sound, it is working.

Alternatively, you can purchase cans of smoke alarm test spray to spray at the unit to set it off. We recommend following the instructions on the can to ensure proper use.Smoke Alarm Expiry

To check the date of the alarm, you will need to open the cover. Using a ladder or safety step, remove the cover of the unit. Underneath you will see either an expiry date or a date of manufacture or installation. Your alarm has 10 years from the date of manufacture or installation before expiring.

Don’t forget to change your battery once a year (with the exception of approved battery operated units). April 1st is Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery Day.

Types of Smoke Alarms

There are two main types of smoke alarms for domestic application; Photoelectric and Ionisation. Photoelectric smoke alarms respond faster to larger particles such as those created by smouldering fires. Ionisation alarms respond faster to smaller particles which are produce by fires with larger flames. In the event of a fire, you would want to be made aware of the fire while it is still in the smouldering stage.

Be Prepared

It is important to always be prepared in case the worst should happen. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has some great information on preparing a family escape plan https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/fireinthehome/pages/homeescapeplan.aspx

Save Money on Your Electrical Work

save money

Electrical work is one of those unavoidable expenses. In Western Australia, all electrical work must be done by a licensed contractor. DIY electrical work is dangerous and illegal and not worth the risk to save a few dollars. However, there are ways you can save money on your electrical work that won’t put you, your family or your house at risk.

DIY Non Electrical Aspects of the Job 
In Western Australia, ALL electrical work must be done by a licensed electrical contractor. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to save money. For instance, if you are looking to have Downlights installed, you may want to consider measuring up and cutting out the holes yourself. This is one of the most time consuming parts of installing new lights. If you or someone you know has the required skills and equipment, you can save money by doing it yourself. Similarly, if you are having power run in your new shed, you can dig the trench yourself instead of paying us to do it. We are always happy to offer you advice on this if you need.

Buy your own products
There are pros and cons to supplying your own products. By supplying your own products you can select the types and styles which appeal to you most. Plus by buying direct from the supplier you can save some of your hard earned dollars.

However, keep in mind that if you supply your own products, we can only extend our   guarantee to the installation workmanship. If the product fails, you will have to negotiate with your supplier to have it fixed or replaced.

Also beware of purchasing products that don’t meet Australian Standards.  For more information on complying with Australia Standards visit http://www.doesitcomply.com.au/

Consider the season
What do the seasons have to do with indoor electrical work? Have you ever been in your roof cavity in the middle of summer? Let me tell you, it’s hot! Really hot! In this kind of heat, workers can only safely spend short periods of time in the roof space before they have to come down for a break and a drink of water. This means the job could take longer and when you’re being billed at an hourly rate, it means your job will cost more. So if you are planning on having work done in your house that requires the electrician to spend a lot of time in the roof, try and plan it for the cooler months. If you’re not sure, ask us! We’re always happy to advise.

Get a minimum of three quotes 
The concept of getting a minimum of three quotes is not to find the cheapest person. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. However the most expensive does not guarantee the best work or service either. By getting a minimum of three quotes, you can get a general idea of what is a fair price for your job. For example, if two contractors quote $1500 and one quotes $450, you may want to consider why the cheapest quote is so cheap. Similarly, if two come in at $450 and one at $1500, there’s a fair chance the higher one is unreasonably high. Always ask for clarification on what’s included in your quotes if you’re not sure.

Stage your work or do it all in one hit?
Depending on your resources, you may need to have your work completed in stages. However, if you can have it all done at one time, you can save money. As a crude example, one power point might cost X amount to install. To do the job, we have to get the materials, drive to your place, set up the workspace, complete the work, clean up, etc. Each time you call us back, we have to go through the same process. One power point may take 1.5 hours to do, but 4 may take 4 hours. Therefore, by getting it all done at one time, you have saved yourself 2 hours of labour charges.