Electrical equipment and Appliances

All electrical appliances sold in New Zealand, including second-hand appliances, must be tested to Australian and New Zealand testing standards.

New appliances are more likely to have the latest safety features. If you are buying a second-hand appliance make sure it has been safety tested. Check that all the safety features work and that the appliance has the right plug and voltage for New Zealand.

Regularly check your appliances for broken parts and/or damaged cords. Turn off and unplug all electrical appliances first. Clean them with a dry cloth.

To avoid overloading a circuit, limit the number of appliances plugged into one socket.

If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or has given you a shock, disconnect it immediately. Have it repaired by a licensed electrical repairer, or replace it. Always get your appliance repaired by a qualified person. Ask for an Electrical Safety Certificate when they have completed the work. This shows the appliance has been repaired to approved safety standards.

Portable electric heaters
Heaters can be a fire hazard. Heat can build up quickly causing flammable things to ignite. Always follow the ‘Heater Metre Rule’. Keep heaters at least one metre away from materials that can burn, such as bedding, curtains, clothes, furniture and rugs. Place portable heaters where they will not be accidentally knocked over and where the lead will not be tripped over or damaged.

Never leave a heater unattended. Unplug it when you leave home, when not in use and before you go to sleep.

Only use one heater per outlet, as an electric heater will fully load an outlet.

Always keep young children away from heaters and never leave them unsupervised in a room when a heater is on.

Dust or debris in your heater can be a fire hazard. Keep your heater clean by blowing out or wiping/vacuuming up any dust. And ensure there are no broken parts or frayed cords. Heaters should not be used in damp areas, such as the bathroom, unless they arem properly installed and have an automatic shut-off mechanism.

Electric blankets
Each season, before using your electric blanket, check for damage or wear and check again each time you change the sheets. Inspect the cord, control switch and plug for any damage and look for any kinks, worn or exposed wires, scorch marks, or breaks in the heating element.

To check, turn the blanket on for 15 minutes at the highest setting (don’t leave the room) and then turn it off. Run your hand over the blanket and feel for hot spots. A hot spot means the heating coil has been kinked or damaged. This could lead to fire or electric shock. Take it to a licensed electrical repairer for repair, or replace it with a new one.

Use an electric blanket only to warm the bed. Switch it off before you get in, so as to avoid overheating. Overheating can be life threatening, especially for the very young, ill, or elderly.

When fitting the blanket, ensure it is flat on the bed, as creasing can damage the heating elements. Secure the blanket firmly using the attached ties. Pins or sharp objects should not be used. Keep the cord and control switch clear of the bed so they don’t get damaged.

Putting clothes or other things on the bed while an electric blanket is on could cause the blanket to overheat and may start a fire.

Never leave an electric blanket unattended for long periods of time when it is switched on.

Never use an electric blanket that is wet. Dry it thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Never drink in bed or place a hot water bottle in a bed when an electric blanket is in use. Electric blankets should not be used for young children until they stay dry through the night. If the blanket is faulty, any dampness could conduct an electric shock.

In summer, store your blanket rolled (in corrugated cardboard, if possible), or stored flat on your bed or in a dry area where no objects will be placed on it. Never fold your blanket, as this is likely to damage the heating elements.

Cords from electrical appliances, such as kettles and toasters, should be kept well away from stovetops. So should anything that can burn easily, such as tea towels, plastic containers or paper towels.

Clothes Dryers
Always clean the lint filter from your clothes dryer before you use it. Lint build-up can cause a fire by creating an elevated temperature in the drum.

Never place flammable items such as rubber, fibreglass, plastic, or items containing oils or petroleum based products in the dryer.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the dryer.

Clothes removed from the dryer should be spread out to cool.

Ensure the dryer completes its cool-down phase.

Small Appliances
Keep small appliances, such as toasters, kettles, irons, hairdryers, shavers and curling irons, unplugged when not in use. If an appliance accidentally falls into water, always make sure it is switched off and unplugged before retrieving it from the water.

Never stick a metal object into any appliance, especially toasters, heaters or dryers.

Make sure cords are in good condition. Frayed, cracked or damaged cords are dangerous and may result in fire or cause an electric shock. Replace the cord as soon as you notice any damage, or have it professionally repaired.

Prevent cords being damaged:

  • Pull the plug rather than the cord when disconnecting an appliance or lead from a socket.
  • Keep cords tidy by running the cord along a wall. Only use tape or specially designed clips to attach cords to the wall, floor or other structure. Never nail or staple an electric cord on to the wall, baseboard or any other object, as this could damage the cord.
  • Never stand furniture on an electric cord and never run an electric cord under rugs or carpeting.

Extension leads
Extension leads should only be used as a temporary measure, not as permanent home wiring. They should be used for low power consuming appliances, such as home entertainment systems, table lamps and digital clocks. If possible, rearrange your furniture so that wall outlets can be used. If you must use an extension cord, place it on the floor against a wall where people cannot trip over it.

When buying a new lead, look for one with enhanced safety features such as recessed sockets and transparent plugs. These features help reduce the possibility of electric shock.

Multi-boxes are multiple electrical sockets mounted onto a portable case, allowing you to plug in several appliances at once. Check the maximum load and be careful not to exceed it. Multi-boxes are ideal for supplying electricity to appliances that consume minimal power, such as computers and TV’s. They should not be used with appliances that draw a heavy load of electricity such as heaters, electric jugs, washing machines and stoves. These appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

Multi-box safety features can include:

  • an overload switch that automatically shuts off the power in the box if there is a problem,
  • shuttered sockets, which prevent children pushing something into them,
  • a built-in RCD that will automatically disconnect power in the event of a fault, and
  • a surge protector that prevents electric equipment being damaged by electrical surges (spikes).

Always place multi-boxes out of the reach of young children.

Sockets and Plugs
Overloaded power sockets are a fire hazard. Install an extra outlet rather than risk a fire.

Make sure plugs are correctly inserted into sockets. Shocks may occur when the pins are partially exposed and still connected to the socket. Use plugs with insulated pins or recessed sockets.

Always install light bulbs that are the correct wattage and size for the fittings. Don’t replace bulbs with a higher wattage than recommended as they can overheat, burn fixtures and fittings, and start fires.

Make sure bulbs are inserted correctly as loose bulbs may also overheat.

Hot Water Cylinder
Keep the hot water temperature in your cylinder between 50˚ and 55˚. It is important that the water in the cylinder is hot enough to kill bacteria such as legionella.

If there are young children in the home we recommend you fit a tempering valve to your hot water cylinder and use it to lower the temperature further to 43˚ at the tap. This is a safe water temperature for children, ensuring they don’t get burned. Ask your local energy supplier, or a licensed plumber for advice on how to adjust it, if necessary.

Always ensure that the thermostat and element covers are in place to prevent electric shock.