Don’t do your own electrical work
Unlicensed and DIY electrical work - it's not worth the risk
You might think you can save a few dollars by having a go at electrical work yourself…
But stop and ask yourself – is it worth risking your life or the life of someone you love?
Not only is it breaking the law, but you could also jeopardise your insurance!
Even when you think you know what you are doing, never attempt to do your own electrical work – it's dangerous, illegal and can be fatal.
Use a licensed electrician
Always get a licensed electrician to do any electrical work.
When choosing one, always look for their electrical contractor licence number and confirm that it’s current before agreeing to any work. You can check the status of electrical contractor licence numbers through our Electrical Licence Search.
If you can’t find your electrician in the database, call us on 1300 362 128.
What is electrical work?
Under section 18 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (the Act), electrical work includes "the manufacturing, constructing, installing, testing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing, or replacing of electrical equipment".
This covers tasks like:
- installing a new power point
- replacing a light switch
- replacing a batten holder with a new light fitting
- repairing an electrical appliance like a heater
- altering the location of an existing power point
- replacing a light fitting with a ceiling fan
- constructing an extension lead
- replacing a plug on the end of an extension lead.
It’s not illegal to purchase electrical accessories or appliances that need to be hard-wired, but they must be connected by a licensed electrician.
Other work such as replacing a drive belt in a washing machine, cutting openings for air-conditioning units or fitting, but not connecting, an electric wall oven in a kitchen cabinet are not regarded as electrical work under the legislation. However, electrical risks such as damage to, or contact with, wiring contained within wall cavities need to be considered and controlled, particularly when cutting holes or driving screws or nails into walls.
What can happen if I do my own electrical work?
In Queensland, electrical safety inspectors investigate and prosecute unlicensed work.
Aside from being illegal, people who perform unlicensed and DIY electrical work risk contact with electricity, which can have deadly consequences for them as well as for the users or anyone else who comes into contact with the electrical installation or equipment which may accidently be left in an unsafe state. This danger may not be immediately apparent and often only becomes evident in a fault situation, or may even develop over time.
Major property damage from an electrical fire is also a risk and if it was the result of illegal electrical work, your insurer may refuse the claim.
What are the penalties?
Apart from injury or death, DIY electrical work is regarded as unlicensed electrical work, which is illegal, and has penalties of up to $40,000 for individuals.
A breach that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness attracts a maximum penalty of $600,000 for an individual ($3,000,000 for a corporation) or five years imprisonment.
A person who performs electrical work in Queensland must have an electrical work licence authorising the work. Licensed electrical workers are required by law to ensure electrical work is performed in accordance with legislative requirements and any applicable codes of practice and technical standards.
Businesses which provide electrical work services for others in Queensland must have an electrical contractor licence (the actual electrical work may be done by one of the contractor's licensed electrical workers).
Licensed electrical contractors are required to meet specific insurance requirements including having a minimum of $5 million public liability insurance, with a $50,000 consumer protection component.
Unlicensed and DIY electrical work does not provide this assurance or protection.
Warning signs when purchasing electrical equipment
When purchasing electrical equipment, you might see a ‘Don’t DIY’ sign near it.
Business owners who sell certain types of electrical equipment to the public in Queensland, are required to display ‘Don’t DIY’ warning signs.
This applies to face-to-face as well as online selling but generally does not apply to garage sales, jumble sales, fêtes - unless a person sells at these events as part of a business.
More on electrical equipment.