Electrical Fires: Causes and Prevention For Home Safety

Today we wanted to write a blog about electrical fires, specifically on the common causes and preventative measures. We hope this informative blog raises awareness for the safety of you and your family.

 

U.S. Home Electrical Fire Facts

  • There are 51,000 home electrical fires a year.
  • $1.3 billion in property damage each year.
  • 500 deaths occur each year. 
  • 65% of U.S. deaths from home fires are a result from no working smoke detectors in the home.
  • Electrical receptacles (outlets) account for 5,300 fires each year, causing 40 deaths and 100 injuries.
  • Arcing faults contribute to 28,000 fires a year

 

Causes of Home Electrical Fires

  • Outdated wiring (knob and tube and aluminum)
  • Old electrical outlets (loose sockets, discoloration, etc.)
  • Lack of smoke detectors and/or smoke detectors that do not work
  • Lack of AFCIs (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters)
  • Overloading your electrical system (plugging in too many devices and appliances on the same circuit)
  • Improper use of an extension cord
  • Improper use of portable/space heaters near combustible objects
  • Faulty wiring (under sized wiring, over sized breakers, loose connections etc.) 

 

Electrical Safety Inspection Finds Burnt Wires in Electrical Panel

 

Electrical Fire Prevention Tips

  1. Electrical Safety Inspection

Hiring a licensed electrician to conduct an electrical safety inspection is the first step to ensure your home’s safety against home electrical fires. An electrical safety inspection consists of a thorough examination of your home’s electrical system to make certain everything is up-to-code to meet the NEC safety standards. 

 

An electrical safety inspection ensures that your home’s wiring isn’t damaged, your electrical panel has the correctly sized breakers, and that your electrical system isn’t being overloaded, among other things mentioned below.

 

An electrical safety inspection consists of:

  • Examination of interior electrical service panel
  • Examination of exterior electrical equipment 
  • Evaluation of your home’s wiring type (knob and tube wiring and aluminum wiring may need replacing as these are outdated forms of wiring)
  • Examination of proper grounding system
  • Visual inspection and proper testing of wall outlets and light switches
  • Evaluation of GFCIs and AFCIs

 

Once an inspection has been conducted, a licensed electrician can make recommendations, and with customer consent, fix and/or install the proper things needed to ensure everything is up-to-code for maximum home safety. The next 5 preventative tips mentioned are installations and fixes that an electrician can do after thorough evaluation of your electrical system.

 

  1. Installation and testing of smoke detectors 

A licensed electrician can help you determine if you have the proper placement on each floor of your home for smoke detectors/co detectors, as well as help determine if they function properly. 

 

If new or replacement smoke detectors are necessary, an electrician is the professional you need for correct installation. 

  1. Replacement of Faulty Wiring

Faulty wiring ranges from loose connections to improper sized wiring and breakers. Faulty wiring can occur over time as your electrical wiring ages, or even due to an amateur installer. 

 

Hire a reputable company with many years of electrical experience, insurance, licensing, and quality workmanship to install and replace your home’s wiring.

  1. Replacement of Old Outlets

Outlets that are discolored, emitting a burning odor, cracked, or have loose sockets should be replaced to prevent a fire hazard. Talk to your local electrician if you need to swap out an old outlet for a new one.

  1. Installation of Dedicated Circuits

To prevent overloaded circuits which pose as a fire hazard, it’s important to install dedicated circuits and outlets for large appliances that use a lot of power.

  1. Correcting an Overload

If you have smaller appliances, devices, lighting fixtures etc. using the same circuit, it’s important to add up the electrical load and make certain that all of those things sharing the one circuit aren’t exceeding the capacity of the electrical wiring. If you aren’t certain, an electrician can perform the electrical safety inspection to make sure your circuits aren’t being overloaded.

 

Conclusion 

It’s important to conduct an electrical safety inspection of your home’s electrical system so that preventative measures can be taken to avoid home electrical fires. Keep you and your loved ones safe by hiring a licensed electrician to inspect and install/replace critical elements of your electrical system. 

 

Sources:

http://www.esfi.org/resource/home-electrical-fires-184

 

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