Frequently Asked Questions

Having your power turn off can be extremely frustrating especially if you are away for a few days and come home to find everything in the fridge has spoiled. Intermittent faults can be tricky to find as they are not always present.

Common causes of this can be:

  1. Ingress of water during rain into the electrical system that once dried out is no longer present
  2. Faulty appliances that switch on and off intermittently like off peak water heaters and pool pumps
  3. Damage to cabling causing a small amount of power leakage between the conductors
  4. The safety switch itself could be faulty.

If the fault is present on only one power circuit, you can temporarily run an extension lead from an area where the power is still working back to wherever you need it to get you going again.

The technicians at Chris Wood Electrical are highly skilled at diagnosing and rectifying faults in your home or business and we would love to help you out, so get in touch with us today.

Safety Switch

Safety switches can be identified by looking inside your switchboard and checking if any of the circuit breakers have a button with the letter “T” (test) on the front of it in addition to the switch itself.

To test if your safety switch is functioning properly simply press the button and your safety switch should immediately flick off meaning it’s all good. Turn the switch back to the on position and your all done. Repeat the process with any other safety switches you may have.

If the switch fails to flick off when tested or will not turn back on then your safety switch is faulty and will need to be replaced as soon as possible by a certified electrician at Chris Wood Electrical.

Safety Switches

If you have circuit breakers or safety switches installed in your switchboard then this simple process could save you hundreds in unnecessary call out fees. Let’s start with the power points:

  1. Identify which power points are not working by plugging in a known working appliance like a desk lamp or 240 volt tool.
  2. Be sure to check in cupboards, under the house or possibly in the roof space as there could be points there for services like TV signal boosters or alarm systems. If you’re not confident or are concerned about the wiring in these areas DO NOT go in there. Call a qualified electrician from Chris Wood Electrical to assist you.
  3. Unplug everything from the power points that have been identified as not working
  4. Attempt to turn the circuit breaker or safety switch back on
  5. If it fails to turn on, then you have an issue with the circuit and the problem will need to be diagnosed and rectified by a qualified electrician at Chris Wood Electrical.
  6. If the circuit does turn back on, that’s great as the problem is most likely an appliance and not a wiring issue.
  7. One by one, plug all the appliance back in until you find the appliance that is causing the circuit breaker to turn off.
  8. Leave that appliance out to be replaced and plug everything else back in and your good to go!

The lights are a very similar process:

  1. Switch off all your light switches
  2. Attempt to turn the circuit breaker or safety switch back on
  3. If it fails to turn on, then you have an issue with the circuit and the problem will need to be diagnosed and rectified by a qualified electrician at Chris Wood Electrical.
  4. One by one, turn the light switches back on until you find the light that causes the circuit to switch off.
  5. If the fault can be rectified by replacing a globe, then great! If the light fitting itself needs replacing then you will need an electrician from Chris Wood Electrical to replace it for you.
Power Circuits

If your switchboard is 25+ years old and never been touched then from a safety standpoint, even if you’ve never had issues with the electrical system, we would recommend that you look at upgrading it.

Installing safety switches on all the circuits is a great way of preventing electric shock and possible fires as they protect more of the electrical system and are more sensitive to electrical faults.

It comes down to personal preference and how much concern you place on having a modern switchboard. At a minimum we would recommend that all power points have safety switches installed on them.

Old Fuse Board

Halogen down lights by themselves are not dangerous. The issue arises when you have combustible materials close to or on top of the light.

If you have halogen down lights installed, then look inside your roof cavity and check if anything is close to them. A good rule of thumb is to keep all materials 30cm away.

If you can’t access your roof cavity then pull the centre of the light out either by twisting or pulling it straight out as if you were changing the globe and see if anything is near the fitting.

Halogen Lights

A level 2 electrician is a specially trained technician that is authorised by the energy distributor (usually Ausgrid or Endeavour Energy) to disconnect or reconnect wiring from the power in the street to your premises. A level 2 electrician is not authorised to alter any of the infrastructure in the street, only the wiring leading into a premises.

You will need one when you alter that cable coming from the street in any way which may include:

  1. Installing a riser bracket
  2. Doing a full switchboard upgrade involving installing a new meter box
  3. Replacing the consumer mains cable which is the cable that comes from the street right down into your meter box.
  4. Installing a private electricity pole on your property.
  5. Installing service fuses if you do not have them.
Level 2 Electrician

Getting small electric shocks from your taps or pool can be a worrying situation. It’s usually caused by a bad connection in the earth or neutral wiring within the house. If left unchecked the problem can worsen over time to a hazardous level.

We would highly recommend that you call Chris Wood Electrical and organise one of our qualified electricians to inspect the premises and rectify the issue at the first sign of it occurring.


Ceiling fans are a great way to circulate the air around a room whilst using little power and not cluttering up the floor and power points with plug in options. With modern designs available across many manufactures they also look great and can finish a space nicely even creating a focal point within a room.

Like the design, the technology in ceiling fans has changed dramatically. Fans with DC motors are quitter, less susceptible to interference and have more speed settings than traditional AC fans.

Things to consider are:

  1. Is the ceiling fan getting installed inside or outside?
  2. How big the room is will dictate the lengths of the blades
  3. Will you need extension poles to bring it down from a high ceiling?
  4. Is there solid ceiling structure in the place where I want to put the fan. If not, can the roof be accessed to install the support for the fan?
Ceiling Fans

There is no question that LED lights use less power than old halogen and incandescent globes. For example, an LED external spotlight will generally use around 20 watts of power whereas an old halogen globe uses up to 150 watts!

LED lights will reduce your power bill. However it all depends on how you use the lights in your home as to whether the savings will be noticeable at all. If you are vigilant at turning lights off in areas that are not being used, then the savings will not be noticeable. If you are someone who has their house and external feature lighting lit up like a Christmas tree every night, then there is definite savings to be had by swapping to LED.

LED lights

Any appliance or equipment that heats or cools will use more power than most other items in your home. Common products include:

  1. Air Conditioning
  2. Electric Hot Water
  3. Pool pumps & pool heaters
  4. External patio strip heaters
  5. Floor heating
  6. Plug in heaters & air conditioning units

If you’re looking for ways to cut down on your power bill, then consider limiting the use of these items where possible.

Space Heater

If your smoke alarm is intermittently beeping, then it will be one of two things:

  1. The battery needs replacing or,
  2. It has dust or debris caught within the sensor and will most likely need replacing

Most modern smoke alarms have fully integrated lithium ion batteries that are not replaceable and should last the life of the alarm.

To test your smoke alarm, press and hold the test button on the front of it for 3-5 seconds until the alarm goes off. If it screams loudly then its good.

If replacing your own battery powered smoke alarm, then we would recommend that you do your research and buy reputable brands as cheap, no name brands might fail to sound in a critical situation. For a few dollars, you can’t put a price on your safety.

View Clipsal Smoke Alarm Information Booklet

Smoke Alarm

Smoke alarms are such a critical safety feature of every home and are so often overlooked and forgotten about. In our experience, working smoke alarms are a big concern for our clients and often when brought to their attention choose to immediately have them replaced.

Manufacturers recommend that your smoke alarms be replaced every 10 years. The alarm should have a sticker inside it stating the date that it should be replaced by.

Here at Chris Wood Electrical our technicians are highly trained in smoke alarm installations, testing and replacements so if you have any concerns then best give us a call today.

View Clipsal Smoke Alarm Information Booklet

Smoke Alarm Check

Vulcanised Indian Rubber cables were the standard cable used in Australia between 1910 and the late 1950s. A VIR cable is made up of a tinned conductor that has an external rubber coating. The rubber is then wrapped with cotton bradding which helped prevent moisture ingress, provided mechanical protection & corrosion resistance.

The risks associated with VIR cables is that over time, the outer insulation dries out and breaks down exposing the live conductor inside which presents a serious hazard. This also poses a risk for the earthing system which can then come in contact with the exposed conductors and can become live itself. This is a major electrical issue that significantly increases your risk of electrical fires & injuries. VIR wiring also usually doesn’t have an earth wire which is needed for the earthing of metal cased fittings and appliances.

The hazards don’t end there as it is also an issue for any trades or technicians who need to work in the areas where this cable is installed. If disturbed the insulation can easily fall off the conductors exposing it to direct conduct to the person or the earthing system.

In order to get this sorted you’ll need to establish whether your house or business premise contain these cables. If you have an older structure built during this period that hasn’t had major works carried out, then the chances are you will have VIR cables. The best way to identify if your house has VIR cables is to contact a qualified Sydney electrician to come and assess your premises. The solution is to eliminate all the VIR wiring in your house and rewire with modern TPS insulated cables. Access to the wiring system should not be too bad with houses of this era however there is a chance that in order to remove and replace all the wiring some remedial work to fix walls, ceiling or architraves may be required after gaining access for the rewire.

Your new wiring system must also have a functional RCBO (safety switch) with earth leakage protection at the switchboard. If you think you have this kind of electrical problem chances are your switchboard will need work as well and you should consider rewiring your entire electrical system from top to bottom.

Our friendly staff at Chris Wood Electrical can assist you with this entire process and guide you through the works that need to be addressed during the entire process.