In Australia, the use of asbestos was a common occurrence in the construction industry up until the mid 1980s. While it’s common knowledge that there are high chances of asbestos being present in houses that were built or renovated between the 1940s and the 1980s (approximately), not many people realise that asbestos was also a popular material in electrical switchboards manufacturing.
Many of these asbestos-made switchboards are still around all over Brisbane and Australia.
Are electrical switchboards made of asbestos dangerous?
Yes, but probably in a different way than what most people think!
Asbestos, if left ‘undisturbed’, is relatively okay as the real danger comes from inhaling asbestos dust – the air particles that result from cutting, sanding or breaking asbestos fibres.
So, similarly to what happens in houses that still have asbestos in them, if left untouched, the asbestos in the switchboard is likely to be just fine!
The real danger is the age of your electrical switchboard! If it contains asbestos, it’s a sign it was manufactured in the pre-1990s. In other words, it’s outdated and you probably need an electrical switchboard upgrade to be safe!
Simply put, modern life has very different energy needs to life in the 1980s! We have a lot more appliances and a greater need for power. With that, we also need a modern switchboard that will keep us safe.
Why is it important to replace my old switchboard?
Your switchboard is responsible for distributing power to all your appliances, electronics and light switches in your house. Part of this responsibility includes cutting power supply – via a safety switch – to a certain device when something is not working properly. In that sense, an electrical switchboard is one of the most important safety devices we have to prevent deadly house fires.
In Australia, faulty appliances are a leading cause of house fires. A safety switch that fails to cut power to a faulty appliance – or any other electrical element – is a serious threat. It’s fair to say that older switchboards are simply not designed for modern appliances and their power consumption. A replacement is likely to immensely improve your house’s safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why was asbestos a popular material in electrical switchboards?
Asbestos was once popular because it’s a flexible, strong, affordable material with good insulation (from heat) features. These characteristics made it popular in construction and also in manufacturing.
When was asbestos banned in Australia?
The first limitations on asbestos use were put in place in 1978, however, it continued to be used widespreadly. The mining of asbestos occurred until 1984, and the import of asbestos was allowed until 1983. It was not until 2003 that a complete ban on asbestos was legislated. In fact, switchboards that were imported into Australia in the early 2000s may also contain asbestos.
Can I remove asbestos from an electrical switchboard?
Asbestos removal and electrical switchboard ‘fiddling’ are high risk jobs. Only trained professionals should deal with asbestos and switchboards. The pricing of asbestos removal while keeping an outdated device is not recommended. By upgrading your old switchboard you will get rid of asbestos and install a superior safety device that is designed for modern day power consumption.
Not sure how old your switchboard is and if it needs replacing?
Give us an obligation-free call on 0434 288 108 or fill in our contact form to discuss your electrical switchboard concerns.