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There have been changes to the rules concerning foil insulation New Zealand.Since 1 July 2016 a simple repair, such as re-stapling a piece of torn foil back into place, could earn a fine of up to $200,000.
Earlier this year (2016) the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (the Ministry) announced that the installation and repair of foil insulation in residential buildings with an existing electrical installation has been banned. The reason for this is due to safety concerns with the method of attaching the foil. Stapling and nailing the insulation to floor or ceiling joists in often dark and cramped conditions can lead to electrical cables being accidentally pierced, and because the foil is metallic, it conducts electricity and can become live. During the past decade there have been a number of deaths and injuries in New Zealand due to this.
The ban covers anybody who is installing or repairing foil insulation in ceilings, walls and underfloor areas – including home handymen – and applies to all uses of foil even when it is not used as insulation (eg as a vapour barrier).
There are exceptions to the ban and they include properties (new houses or extensions) where the electrical wiring has not yet been installed, however foil installed in these circumstances will be unable to be repaired in the future. Foil that is bonded to rigid building materials such as plasterboard or polystyrene is not banned either as it tends to be installed in such a way that it is unlikely any live electrical cables could be accidentally pierced.
The Ministry suggests that homeowners engage the services of a licensed electrical worker if they have any concerns about previously installed foil in their building. WorkSafe NZ has also released information which will help protect people and property from harm due to incorrectly installed insulation.
It is considered an offence under Section 27 of the Building act to breach this ban and is punishable by a fine of up to $200,000.
IAONZ has long been concerned with the safety aspect of foil insulation products and is represented on a WorkSafe review looking at establishing an Electrical Code of Practise (ECP) for using foil as an insulation product.