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A Timely Reminder to Keep an Eye on Your Electricy Wires

Source: Plateau Electrical
Posted: 19 Nov 2019
A Collaroy family has narrowly averted disaster after an investigation into flickering lights revealed a potentially deadly threat.

Home owner Gary Donaldson said the quick response of electricians saved his family when they found aerial power cables leading from the street to the house had been worn by tree branches and were holding on by a strand.

The lines were within days of falling to the ground.

Mr Donaldson said the near-miss served as a warning to all home owners.

"Anyone on a property with electrical wires should get electricians in to check things and professionals to trim your branches," he said.

"You don't know how close you come till you're at the top of the cliff and haven't gone over," a relieved Mr Donaldson said. "We could have lost our son through no fault of our own."

"The wires had gone through the rubber plastic covering; it was basically wire-on-wire and shorting out at that point."

Mr Donaldson called electrician Nick Paton of Plateau Electrical after the house started experiencing power supply issues.

"My wife turned on the oven but it didn't work and the lights dimmed, and then when she turned on other appliances the lights dimmed again and it knocked out the TV," he said.

Their son was zapped by an electrical pulse through the metal frame of the shower screen.

Mr Paton said the cable surrounds had been eroded by the tree branches.

"We did some testing and found a break in the neutral cable between the switchboard and the street and the active cable was almost worn through as well," he said. "It was only a matter of days or weeks before they fell into the garden which would have been a serious safety risk.

"If the cables break, electricity looks for other ways back, such as through the earthing system and if that's not up to scratch, metal such as taps and appliances can become live. If the degrading continued, their son could have been fully electrocuted in the shower rather than just receive a tingle."

The incident revived memories of a Western Australian girl who suffered severe brain damage after a near-fatal electric shock at her home.

"The family was shocked when I explained the potential of what could have happened but really glad that we found the issue before it escalated," Mr Paton said.

He added that eroded cables and branches touching wires were not uncommon but this was a serious case posing major risks. Warning signs include dimming of lights or brown-outs, appliances not working and random power outages.

Trees must be 500mm from incoming power lines.

Everest Electrical assisted in removing the damaged wires.

The family had let out the property for a year before recently moving in.

Mr Donaldson said he trimmed the tree near the powerlines a year ago "but in hindsight I didn't trim it back far enough". The coastal banksia sits on a right-of-way just outside Mr Donaldson's property.

"Owners must have input into what happens in and around their properties and councils have to be cognisant of these dangers," he said.

"You need to get a professional in to trim the branches and an electrician to check any old wiring. We found Nick through a Google search. His rating was 100 per cent and he certainly lived up to that."

Plateau Electrical services North Sydney and the northern beaches.

Image by sandid from Pixabay

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