Electrical fires are the second leading cause of house fires in the United States. An electrical fire can start in an instant and quickly engulf your entire house in flames. While this is scary, it is very preventable. Let’s review some of the causes of electrical fires and then the proper way to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Cause 1: Overtaxed Electrical System
The electrical demands that we place on our homes electrical systems has exponentially increased in the last twenty-forty years. Think about all of the things that you have in your home that you didn’t have 20-40 years ago. For us, this list includes:
- 2+ TVs in the home
- Theater Rooms
- Cell phones and chargers
- Tablets with chargers
- Toaster ovens
- Counter-top pressure cookers
- Single cup coffee makers
- Desktop Computers
- Laptop Computers with chargers
- Video game consoles
- Electric toothbrushes
- and so much more
Because we have so many devices and appliances plugged in all the time, we need to consider the load we are placing on our electrical systems. If you are concerned about your old wiring and electrical panel, check out the prevention steps below.
2. Worn-out Electrical Wiring and Components
As your home ages, your electrical wiring and components do as well. Electrical connections can loosen, the insulation around the wire ages and weakens, dirt and oil on electrical components can cause overheating and switches and receptacles can become loose and wear overtime.
3. Electrical Malfunction
Electrical malfunction is the leading cause of residential electrical fire injuries, deaths, and property loss. A malfunction can happen because of a number of factors. Defects with appliances, the use of the wrong outlet, plug and switches, electrical system failures, faulty wiring, incorrectly installed wiring, overloaded circuits and extension cords, and misuse and poor maintenance of lighting and electrical appliances. Many of these causes are difficult to see because they are hidden in the wall. This makes it hard to identify that this type of fire is happening since the fire will spread through the walls before you will notice the smoke from the fire.
How To Prevent an Electrical Fire
Schedule an in-home assessment of your home’s electrical wiring and electrical panel.
Unplug appliances, chargers, and power strips that aren’t in use, especially hairdryers, flatirons, irons, and toaster ovens.
Schedule an in-home assessment of your home’s electrical wiring and electrical panel. Unplug appliances, chargers, and power strips that aren’t in use. Be on the lookout for the signs listed below.
Be careful of overloading your extension cords and power strips with too many devices that draw a lot of power.
Call an electrician if you notice an of the following warnings in your home
- Fuses that continue to blow or breakers that are tripped repeatedly
- Lights that dim or flicker often, especially when other appliances are in use
- A Sparking fuse box, outlet, breaker panel or electrical panel
- Signs of small electrical fires in your electrical panel – charred switches and the smell of an electrical fire
- Discolored outlets, switch plates and cords
- A buzzing outlet
Take proper precautions to keep combustible materials from touching light bulbs, lampshades, appliances, cords, or outlets.