Faulty electrical cabling in 40,000 homes may start failing next year

Only a tiny fraction of potentially dangerous electrical cabling fitted in households across Australia has been replaced in the six months since a national recall was announced.
Nanjing Night Net

The cabling does not comply with ageing requirements because it has poor quality plastic coating that could become prematurely brittle if exposed to heat, potentially causing electric shock or sparking a fire. Although, there have not yet been any reports of the cables failing, experts say safety problems may start to arise from 2016.

The latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reveal Infinity and Olsent-branded cabling has been removed from fewer than 150 of the estimated 40,000 affected homes and businesses. And 16 of the 27 companies that sold the Chinese-made cabling between May 2010 and August 2013 have not started replacing the faulty wiring.

“It’s terrible. We are really concerned about the progress,” the ACCC’s deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said. “But we do believe it’s about to ramp up. We’ve been contacting the suppliers that put the recall in place every month and pushing them.”

Ms Rickard said consumers also had a vital role to play in identifying whether the cabling was used at their property, and urged them to contact their electrician or building contractor.

“It’s really important we get the message to consumers because we know that a whole lot of electricians who used it have just got no idea where they put it,” she said.

Just 0.4 per cent of the 4000 kilometres of defective cabling had been replaced by the end of January after two recalls were announced last year when testing found the product failed to meet safety standards.

The cables were imported by Infinity Cable Co, which has gone into liquidation, and sold to major hardware stores and smaller suppliers in all states and territories except the Northern Territory.

It was used for electrical wiring in new and old homes, air-conditioning units and power points and was fitted in an estimated 40,000 buildings nationwide. In Victoria, it was sold in 2012 and 2013 through Masters, Home Timber and Hardware, Plants Plus, Thrifty-Link Hardware, Mitre 10, Go Electrical and six smaller retailers.

Home and business owners who recently had wiring installed at their property are urged to contact their builder or a licensed electrical contractor to arrange an inspection to confirm if Infinity cabling was used. If Infinity cable was supplied, the cable supplier will arrange for an inspection and remediation free of charge. Infinity cabling located in roof spaces, under flooring or close to a heat source will need to be replaced.

The ACCC, which is co-ordinating the national response in conjunction with state regulators,  will release updated figures next month. The Infinity Cable regulatory taskforce of electrical, building and consumer law regulators will then meet and discuss progress to date and the implications of that progress when the data has been gathered.

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