Melbourne Electricians
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Registered Electrical Contractors
Registered with Energy Safe Victoria , Electrical Contractors Number 13464. Australian Business Number 40 082 220 540.
Melbourne Based Electrical Services
Domestic, Commercial, Industrial electricians servicing Melbourne metro and surrounding suburbs, 24 hours 7 days a week.

Installation Of Foil Insulation

 
 
 

There are fears thousands of households may have been fitted with potentially deadly roof foil insulation under a federal government scheme. Four workers have died installing the insulation, three of them being electrocuted to date.
Many are blaming poor work practices, but for the installers that are following and using professional practices, they too are facing  electrical issues with many homes still electrically unsafe.  

When consumers buy homes on the market most are not aware of any potential electrical problems unless they have been inspected by a electrical contractor, for existing home owners and having different trades people working on the property over time  not knowing if they have disturbed the electrical installation can be an issue.

Should Foil Insulation Be Banned For Ceiling Installation

To ban foil insulation should not be taken lightly, many will be affected including installation companies and manufacturers. There will be a need to look at the dangers associated with installation the product it self and how it will effect the home owners and trades people in the future. Ceiling insulation faults, defective electrical cables eg. perished or rodent-damaged cable insulation and home maintenance activities may, over time, result in electrification of the foil insulation. When considering renovating, extending and rewiring a home, will the danger of electrocution become an issue years from today. If so, then a strong consideration whether to ban foil insulation completely should be considered.

What Are The Dangers Of Foil Insulation Installed In Ceiling Space

Dangers of foil insulation installed in ceilings or roof space will vary and depend on the age of a home. In our experience we have found the following problems to course concern -

  • Broken junction boxes were electrical connections are exposed with single insulated cables and connectors.
  • Low voltage transformers have been found covered and overheating under the insulation.
  • Recessed Down-lights covered.
  • Substandard wiring practices were cables have not been clipped and lay across timber.
  • We have found this to be the biggest and recurring of them all, light fittings with connectors and copper wiring stripped too far with no junction covers fitted, just above the plaster line in the roof space.
  • Another major concern is with old electrical systems, including metal conduit enclosures and cotton cable wiring. We found metal enclosures have been pulled apart for electrical additions such as power points,  and never properly earth after completing the work. If wiring becomes loose or broken in metal conduit the foil insulation may become alive with power, since its in contact with metal piping.

 Foil Insulation Removed                                       Electrical Metal Conduit Directly Under Foil Insulation

Safety Switches And Foil Insulation

Safety Switches are not regularly maintained and tested frequently, our service visits have found many Safety Switches don't perform to this test after a number of years in service. The simple test button on you Safety Switch is to test and prevent the mechanical mechanism from ceasing, all Safety Switch manufacturers supply these test buttons for this reason. To rely on a  safety switch to protect persons from foil insulation defects would be a false sense of security. A responsible decision would be to remove foil insulation completely.

The Future Of Foil Insulation

If for some reason foil insulation techniques and safety installation procedures are rectified and the government ban lifted what are the repercussions we face in the future. Some questions to be answered are, when renovating or extending your home will foil insulation be properly re-installed if it has been disturbed. Many people use roof access to store old items in boxes and may disturb the insulation near electrical fittings.

Many older homes need rewiring, United Electrical Services has begun a rewiring project with foil insulation in the ceiling and our first safety precaution was to remove the insulation from the ceiling completely. This was to avoid using a knife to cut the insulation  to gain access and the chance of cutting unexpected electrical cables . We felt it to be unsafe to work around and found it difficult to access light points and install switch wires down wall cavities.  

Foil Insulation                                                      Foil Insulation

A Tip For Home Owners

If you own a home with foil insulation and need to access your ceiling space turn your power of at the main switch-board. Use a torch, and if you feel uncomfortable contact United Electrical Services for an inspection to determine any electrical issues.

Homeowners with foil insulation installed under the federal rebate scheme can now register for their government-funded safety inspection. A hotline is set up and available to provide information to affected householders. That number will be 131 792