There are a lot of things that need checking and maintaining around the home, so the last thing you probably want to do is add another item to the list. But believe us when we say this is really important. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to say that the importance of switchboard maintenance is a matter of life and death!
Why does your electrical switchboard need to be checked and maintained?
Put simply, switchboards are like all other equipment and are prone to deterioration over time. If you’re in a new home, chances are your switchboard is in perfect working condition, but if your home is older it may need attention. The older your home and switchboard is, the more likely it should be checked before there is an issue.
Why switchboard maintenance is important
Switchboards are a critical part of the electrical system in your home. They distribute electricity throughout your home and possibly your garden and other buildings. They do this by splitting the mains electrical power from the street into separate parts, called branch circuits. Most homes only need a few branch circuits, unlike commercial buildings that can need many.
As well as distributing electrical power, the modern residential switchboards also has another vital feature. This is turn off the power if an issue is detected. They do this with protective devices, often called safety switches, that will switch off a branch circuit at the first sign of a problem, such as an electrical overload or leaking power from an exposed wire.
When working correctly, your switchboard is very robust and reliable. However, if things start going wrong the results can be costly. While issues with a switchboard can cause a risk to appliances in your home and require you to buy a new fridge, washing machine or oven, for example, that’s far from worst case. Because if there’s something wrong with your switchboard, your home is also exposed to fire, explosion and electrocution risks, with potentially catastrophic results
If your home’s electrical switchboard is new or has not been inspected by an electrician recently, there are some things you can do to maintain your switchboard.
Simply opening your switchboard’s front cover for a look is a good start. Keeping the inside of your switchboard clean by removing any dust or debris is also something virtually anyone can do, as is testing the protective devices (sometimes called safety switches) by pressing the test buttons. Just be aware that this will turn off the power to parts of the home momentarily, so it can be a good idea to turn off electrical devices and tell other members of your family before doing so.
However, in general anything to with electricity is not a do it yourself job and you should never tackle anything other that routine cleaning, inspection and testing. For everything else you need a qualified electrician.
Regular switchboard maintenance the key
When you organise a qualified electrician to conduct switchboard maintenance, they will perform important jobs such as:
- Check the tightness of fastenings on the switchboard.
- Clean out any dust or dirt from the inside of the switchboard cabinet.
- Check the condition of weather seals on the cabinet that will help keep the precious inside components dry.
- Check the insulation.
- Replace any conductors that show damage.
- Inspect the operation of the circuit breakers.
- Inspect all wiring and replace any wires that require attention.
It will probably cost a couple of hundred dollars or more to have your switchboard maintained and inspected, but if this cost prevents only one incident you will be paid back in spades. Regular maintenance will also increase the lifespan of your switchboard and help prolong its life, saving you money in the long run.
Switchboard need replacing?
If your switchboard is 40 years old or more, uses ceramic fuses instead of safety switches, or has any loose or wearing cables, it may be time to replace your switchboard. Other indications that your switchboard may be past its best – or need attention – includes power that keeps turning off in your home or lights flickering.
Today’s modern switchboards are a big improvement on older style models, which weren’t necessarily equipped to handle the electricity demands that most families have. In addition, older switchboards are unlikely to have the safety features that are required today. This means they are more likely to cause hazards, such as fire and electrocution.
Adelaide Urban Electrical for all your switchboard needs
Adelaide Urban Electrical can help you with all your switchboard needs. This includes carrying out maintenance and inspection of your old switchboard, or replacing your existing item for a new, modern switchboard.