Know the law and the safety rules when working with insulation. Get a professional in if you are not certain you can manage the risks.
Foil insulation is banned
The installation or repair of electrically-conductive insulation, known as foil insulation, is banned in all residences including rental homes. Anyone who breaches the ban commits an offence and may be liable to a penalty of up to $200,000.
Do not touch foil insulation without turning off the power at the mains first as there is an electrocution risk. If you have any doubts, contact a qualified electrician. If you choose to remove foil insulation, hire a qualified professional.
Anyone who inspects foil insulation even after turning off the power at the mains must proceed with caution as in some instances the foil may still be live.
- Ban on installing or repairing foil insulation in residential buildings
- Worksafe’s Electrical Code of Practice on foil insulation: NZECP 55 Managing Electrical Risks Associated with Electrically Conductive Thermal Insulation [PDF 377KB]
If the property currently has foil insulation that is in reasonable condition it does not need to be replaced.
If the foil insulation is damaged this will need to be replaced with insulation that meets the new requirements.
Checking insulation safely
If you can do it safely, get a step-ladder and peek through your ceiling hatch to see if you have insulation in your roof space. Check your underfloor insulation to make sure it hasn't shifted over time, and that there aren't any gaps.
- Watch the video on ceiling insulation on the Energywise website (external link)
- Watch the video on underfloor insulation on the Energywise website (external link)
If you're not sure of the location, type and condition of the insulation, seek advice from a professional insulation installer.
Before inspecting the insulation – ceiling and underfloor – make sure that the area is safe. If you are entering the subfloor, turn the power off at the mains as there is an electrocution risk. Anyone who inspects foil insulation even after turning off the power at the mains must proceed with caution as in some instances the foil may still be live.
You should also:
- Take safety precautions – wear safety equipment, including gloves, dust mask, overalls, protective eye and footwear.
- Be careful when using ladders and stepladders. Read the WorkSafe factsheet – Working with Ladders and Stepladders (external link) .
- Make sure that someone is nearby and able to assist if you need help.
- Stand on the framing when you are moving around the roof space to avoid damaging or falling through the ceiling.
- Make sure the required clearances are in place for items that get hot, such as downlights, downlight transformers and flues.
- Ensure that open downlights are free of potentially flammable debris such as loose fill insulation – if you find some debris, call a licensed electrician. More on this is covered in the New Zealand Standard NZS 4246:2016 [PDF, 6 MB].
Installing insulation safely
Landlords can install insulation themselves, but there can be serious safety risks to both landlord and tenant if it’s not done properly, including:
- fire risk from ceiling insulation being incorrectly installed or moved to cover downlights, chimney flues, or other safety clearances
- electrocution risk from stapling electrical cabling when installing underfloor insulation.
Landlords could also face insurance and liability consequences for faulty or negligent installation.
If you are not certain you can meet all the regulations including safety rules, you are strongly advised to contact a qualified professional insulation installer.
- Choose an installer at Insulation Association of New Zealand (external link)
- Choose an installer at EECA Energywise (external link)
Meeting the New Zealand Standard
Whoever is installing the insulation must do it in accordance with New Zealand Standard NZS 4246:2016.
New Zealand standard copyright guidance
Copyright in NZS 4246:2016 is held by the New Zealand Standards Executive. Standards New Zealand on behalf of the New Zealand Standards Executive has given permission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Tenancy Services) to provide access to the standard under copyright licence LN001211. The reader is permitted to view and print the 2016 edition of the standard free of charge (subject to printing costs) for your own use. You are not permitted to reproduce any part of it without prior written permission from Standards New Zealand unless your actions are covered by Part 3 of the Copyright Act 1994 (external link) .
For queries about copyright please contact Standards New Zealand at firstname.lastname@example.org.