Insulation keeps your home cool in summer and warm in winter. It can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs, while minimising your propertys environmental footprint. However, if insulation is incorrectly installed, it can be extremely dangerous.
In Australia, many National Codes of Practice and Australian Standards cover ceiling installations.
Licensing of Insulation
Since insulation can cause fires and injuries including electrocution, you should only engage a reputable, professional insulation contractor.
While a licence is not required in Australia to fit insulation, installers must follow other requirements and laws. These vary between states and territories. The Australian Government stipulates that wherever you live, insulation should be installed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards. There should be enough space around appliances and wires, and the insulation should have a minimum R-value, to stop too much heat entering and leaving the space.
Other safety tips include covering down lights, as they can heat up and cause fires. Read more about insulation licensing for your area, in our state and territory overviews below.
Due to several house fires occurring in New South Wales, caused by thermal ceiling insulation, WorkCover and NSW Fair Trading have published recommendations for choosing contractors.
Most of the house fires have been caused by the insulation being placed too closely to electrical equipment and lighting. As a result, Fair Trading recommends hiring a licenced electrician to safely check the insulation installation. They will also ensure the electrics are kept away from insulation and timber structures, and that it is installed to satisfy Australian Standard AS/NZS3000 (The Wiring Rules).
You should also check that the insulation contactor has:
You may also contact Fair Trading to check that the company hasnt had any legal action taken out against it, and that the electrician or builder is licenced to operate in NSW.
Like New South Wales, a licence is not needed to install insulation in Victoria. However, given the health and safety risks it poses, you should always hire a professional installer.
Sustainability Victoria recommends the following:
You should check the installer is qualified to work with insulation, and has a sound knowledge of the clearances between insulation and lighting, vents and exhaust fans.
In Queensland, insulation installers must take specific electrical safety actions. These measures are documented in the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002. The regulations are in place to protect installers and, homeowners and failing to comply can result in penalties.
While a licence is not necessary to install insulation in Queensland, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland stipulates that you must hire a licenced electrical contractor to install electrically conductive ceiling insulation that is, insulation that can conduct electricity.
The body also recommends several safety tips including following:
There are many other regulations and safety steps the contractor should follow, as set out by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
In South Australia, insulation installers must have a licence. In fact, all builders in the state must have a licence to install insulation.
The South Australian Government advises residents to:
You should also inform your installer if the roof has halogen down lights, heating lamps, electrical wiring from pre-1986, a gas or combustion heater with a roof flu, or any electrical equipment such as exhaust fans.
Electrical contractors in South Australia must also provide you with an electrical certificate of compliance, before they begin work. That way you can be sure the equipment meets safety requirements.
As in other states, a licence is not needed to install insulation in Western Australia. However, given the health and safety risks, it is important to follow the advice set out by the WA Department of Commerce.
It is also crucial that the installer will follow Australian Standards, comply with the minimum R-value regulations, adhere to your local councils regulations, and inspect down lights and other structures and equipment to ensure there is no fire risk.
In Tasmania, insulation installers do not need to be licenced. However, as with all other states, there are Australian Standards and the National Codes of Practice to adhere to. Some regulations depend on the type of installation being installed so check with the contractor, or ask your local council for advice.
It is also a good idea to ask the contractor for references. If asked, they must also show copies of any certification, qualification and business information such as their ABN and contact details.
The ACT Governments ActSmart website reports that about half the energy used in Canberra residences is for heating and cooling. Effective insulation can save ACT residents up to $100 a year.
While a licence is not required in the ACT to install insulation, there are several key criteria to follow. The contractor installing loose-fill or batt insulation must adhere to fire safety standards and rules.
It is also recommended that a licenced electrician replaces wiring. Doing so ensures that the wiring is covered safely by the insulation and reduces the risk of fire. The electrician should also check:
Above all, the contractor must follow the Wiring Rules to ensure insulation is installed with the appropriate clearances, to avoid fires. The wiring must also be compliant with AS/NZ 3008.
Insulation - Northern Territory
In the Northern Territory, no licence is needed to install insulation in homes. However, NT WorkSafe sets out several steps to installers and homeowners to ensure insulation is installed correctly and safely. This advice includes:
As a result, it is wise to hire a licenced electrician to check there is no fire risk due to insulation installation. You can ask the electrician when requesting a quote if they are licenced and qualified to work with insulation.