By NZHJ July 22, 2016 Building Materials

As expected, a ban on retrofitting foil insulation is now in place.

As previously indicated, MBIE has confirmed it had declared a ban, under section 26 of the Building Act 2004, on retrofitting or repairing foil insulation. Specifically banned are:

  • The installation of foil insulation into residential buildings with an existing electrical installation (retrofitting foil insulation).
  • The repair of foil insulation in residential buildings with an existing electrical installation (eg stapling ripped or damaged foil back onto the floor joists of a building).

The ban follows “strong feedback on the need to eliminate the risks posed by foil insulation products. These concerns were raised by submitters during consultation on proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (that will require insulation and smoke alarms in rental properties).”

The risk with retrofitting foil insulation is that the person installing it could accidentally pierce a live electrical cable, causing the foil, being metallic, to conduct electricity and possibly becoming live.

To date, says MBIE, there have been five reported deaths in New Zealand caused by electrocution associated with foil insulation in a residential building, as well as one reported non-fatal electric shock.

The ban is now in force and to breach the ban is an offence under the Building Act.

WorkSafe NZ has also developed some guidance as the regulator of electrical safety under the Electricity Act 1992. Its Electrical Code of Practice is publicly available and sets out how to protect people and property from harm due to improperly installed foil insulation.

The Code of Practice will enable building owners and the industry to better manage electrical safety risks associated with existing foil insulation.

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