Check Your Central Heating Units And Ducts

Home owners have been urged to conduct regular maintenance on central heating units including ducting to reduce the potential for electrical dangers and fires in winter.

Winter is a major danger period as people are using their heating appliances at a maximum level and it is important to ensure these appliances such as central heating units, electrical heaters and gas heaters are regularly serviced by reputable professionals. A recent fire in a home in Melbourne, which was reported as starting at the central heating unit and spreading through the home by igniting dust in the heating ducting system, highlights the importance of keeping heating ducts free from inflammable substances.

Archicentre Australia’s property assessments also reveal potential fire hazards with common electrical problems including defective wiring, unearthed power points and antiquated switchboards without residual current devices (‘safety switches’) installed. A large proportion of electrical problems have been caused by the owners themselves – or previous owners – personally installing additional power points or additional light fittings.

Illegal wiring is extremely dangerous. It increases the risk of house fires and can be deadly for occupants or visiting tradespersons. By law electrical wiring should only be undertaken by a licensed electrical contractor.

A second Melbourne house fire also highlighted the barrier that security doors and shutters  present to residents trying to escape a burning building and to fire-fighters trying to gain access to the premises.

Electrical Safety Tips

  • Use licensed electricians for all electrical wiring work, and obtain a Certificate of Compliance where required
  • Minimise the use of double adaptors and power boards that overload power points
  • Eradicate any vermin. Rats and mice can eat the insulated wiring in the roof and floor spaces and ants have been known to nest in power points
  • Check all electrical leads and plugs for signs of wear, damage or deterioration
  • Upgrade original switchboards in older homes and replace old fuses with new ‘circuit breaker switches’
  • Home owners should also ensure that their smoke alarms are working as most fatal fires occur in the home and winter is a high fire risk time.

Fire Prevention Tips

  • Correctly install appropriate smoke alarms in effective locations
  • Test smoke alarms regularly
  • Install lever handle latches on doors for a quick exit without keys
  • Clean the exhaust fan grille over the stove to remove dust, fat and grease build-up
  • Remove all extension leads if possible
  • Always turn off the power points when not in use
  • Get rid of double adaptors and reduce use of power boards
  • Install safety switches on power and light circuits
  • Ensure down-lights are properly installed and not compromised by insulation
  • Ensure insulation material is not installed directly over electrical equipment such as exhaust fans and central heating units as it greatly increases the risk of fire.