Home insulation safety

Having insulation installed in your home is a great way of improving your home’s energy efficiency. However, incorrectly installed insulation can cause fires and serious electrical accidents.

Installing insulation is a requirement for new homes and when building additions to existing homes. New homes are usually insulated with fixed insulation batts that do not move around in the roof space.

There are Australian safety standards for clearance distances between batts, wiring and electrical equipment. Ensure all electrical work is completed by a licensed electrician and you receive a certificate of compliance to confirm the work has been done according to the necessary safety standards.

If you are getting your roof space insulated and have any of the following electrical items in the area, you may have a safety risk:

  • halogen downlights or extra low voltage (ELV) downlights
  • electrical wiring installed before 1986
  • a gas or combustion heater with a flue going through the roof
  • high intensity heating lamps
  • electrical items, eg a home security alarm, exhaust fans or water heaters.

When choosing an installer, make sure they have a South Australian builder's licence that permits them to install insulation. To check they are licensed, use the Consumer and Business Services' licensing public register.

If you have any of the listed electrical risk items in your roof space, tell your installer about them before any work starts so they may take appropriate safety measures.

Check your existing insulation

If you are concerned about your existing insulation, ask a licensed electrician to check the insulation is correctly installed and that downlights and electrical fittings are safe.

If your insulation hasn't been correctly installed, you may be entitled to have it rectified by the contractor responsible.

Blow-in insulation and electrical safety

Blow-in insulation is a type of loose-fill insulation that is mostly made from recycled paper. The insulation is funnelled into ceilings and other spaces using a flexible hose. To stop the loose materials moving around, it is sprayed with a fixing solution.

If installed correctly, blow-in insulation is safe. However, if it is not secured, draughts in the roof space can cause it to move close to electrical equipment, such as downlights and exhaust fans. This may cause the equipment to fail, overheat the wiring and cause fires.

If you have blow-in insulation and want to install electrical equipment in the roof space, always use a licensed electrician. Ensure they install appropriate protective barriers to stop the insulation material getting too close to the electrical equipment.

If you intend to install blow-in insulation in a property that has downlights, ask a licensed electrician to do an electrical safety check first. This is to ensure that the necessary safety barriers are in place to protect downlights, fans and other electrical equipment from drifting insulation material.

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Page last updated 4 April 2017

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