Commissioner's Blog: Don’t ignore shocks and tingles
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping
Have you ever experienced an electric shock or tingling sensation in your home while touching a metal object like a bathroom tap? It could be a warning sign of a dangerous electrical fault that mustn’t be ignored.
You should immediately report this to your electrical network operator, usually Western Power or Horizon Power, for further investigation.
Shocks and tingles could be a sign that a home’s electricity system has a degraded or broken neutral connection, causing a voltage rise in the earthing system and resulting in metal objects such as pipes, gas fittings, taps and appliances to become live with hazardous levels of electricity.
Our colleagues at Building and Energy have teamed up with Western Power and Horizon Power to launch a new public safety campaign, reminding West Australians to immediately report any electric shocks to their network operator.
Of around one million electrical network connections in WA, 99 reports of shocks caused by neutral faults have been received in the past six months.
These incidents are rare, but if it does happen to you – contact your network operator immediately. Avoid touching any metal objects and don’t attempt to turn off the power yourself as the main electrical switch is likely to be inside a metal enclosure. Instead, wait for a network operator crew to carry out their checks. It’s also important to note that RCD safety-switches don’t protect against this type of fault.
While the best course of action will always be for the public to self-report any issues, as an added precaution the State Government is working with Western Power to roll-out a ‘smart meter’ that can remotely detect degrading neutral connections and alert the operator. Horizon Power has already fitted these advanced meters to its customers’ homes and businesses in regional WA.
Reports should be made to Western Power on 13 13 51 or Horizon Power (regional) on 13 23 51, or if the network operator is not known, contact Building and Energy on 1800 978 198.
And remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘minor’ electric shock.
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