It must have been a few weeks later that my parents came to visit from out of town to see our new place and celebrate with us. Bustling with excitement my mum comes in carrying fresh flowers and goodies she had baked, while my father with barely a hello takes himself off for a guided tour around the house and section, wanting to check out the place for himself. And we were lucky he did.
After peering up into the roof space, he then toddled off to look in the garage. After a quick inspection, he pulled me into the garage, and peered up at the switchboard (which to me looked like a black box with some little rectangles on it), and started to educate me in his fatherly way about porcelain fuses and fuse wires, with the intention of ensuring I knew how to change them in case one blew.
After removing one to show me how to do it, what he discovered was not only quite scary but also could have had the potential to be incredibly dangerous.
The previous occupants of the house had not been using fuse wire (which is designed to burn and break the circuit in the event of an overload or short circuit) but rather had been using standard metal wire. This basically meant the circuit would never have “broken” or “tripped”.
So, off to the local hardware store we went, one of the first purchases for our house (dad’s shout) was some new fuse wire.
Fast forward a few years, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to a qualified electrician about electrical safety through my work at Schneider Electric.
After talking to him for a few minutes about old electrical switchboards and home safety, it became very apparent that my own home’s switchboard did not contain RCDs (residual current devices) which help prevent fatal electric shocks and still had old fuses, which meant my home’s electrical protection wasn’t up to the latest NZ standards.
We had been saving up for a kitchen renovation, but quickly decided that replacing the switchboard was more important to get done sooner rather than later. So after another quick chat with the electrician, who confirmed it wouldn’t make any difference to have the switchboard update done now or later when we came to do the kitchen. So we decided to lock it in.
From there the process was quick and easy. The sparky popped around and took a quick look at the existing switchboard and wiring, sent us over a quote for the work (which wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be), and then booked us in for the following week.
We were advised we would be without power at the house for about 4 hours while the work was done, and because Auckland was still operating at ‘Level 2.5’ we were both still working from home, we found a local cafe with WiFi and worked from there while most of the work was done.
The whole process was simple and quick, and putting in a modern switchboard was probably one of the most valuable improvements we have made to our home since moving in. And if we happen to overload a circuit in the house and a circuit breaker trips, we don’t have to worry about trying to change over fuse wire anymore