Did you know there’s a hidden danger in your home? It can’t get detected by your security system. Your dog won’t bark when it arrives, only when it’s starting to damage your home. It’s an electrical fire.
More than 51,000 electrical fires happen in homes every year. They claim the lives of close to 500 people and cost more than $1.4 billion in damage.
As scary as those numbers are, the good news is that electrical fires are preventable.
One of our experts at East-West Electric explains the five biggest causes of electrical fires and how you can prevent them.
Faulty Wiring Is Dangerous
The U.S. Fire Administration says that faulty wiring is the number one cause of electrical fires. But what causes faulty wiring?
- Age – homes that are two decades old or more are at higher risk of having faulty wiring behind the walls.
- Rodents – mice, rats, squirrels, and other critters find their way into homes and chew on cords all the time.
- Unprofessional installation – cutting corners to save time or money is all too common among the home building trades, including electricians.
- Overloading the electrical system – expecting your older home’s electrical system to handle your modern-day electrical demands can damage appliances, wiring, and the breaker box.
Extension Cord Errors
Misusing extension cords is another common cause of house fires. As you can probably imagine, the holiday season is the most common time for extension cord-related fires to occur. It’s also important to only consider an extension cord for a temporary solution. Don’t use extension cords as a permanent solution for plugging several things in at one location, since it will cause overload.
Power Cord Problems
Besides overloading extension cords, there are plenty of things you can do wrong with electrical cords. Any of the following can cause an electrical fire:
- If any of your devices’ power cord is frayed, do not plug it into a socket. Doing so increases the risk of having electricity escape the cord through the holes and set fire to the surrounding materials.
- Removing the round grounding prong from a plug so that it can be put into a two-prong plug is a big no-no. Devices with three-prong plugs draw more electricity than a two-prong outlet is equipped to deliver.
- Placing cords underneath rugs is another big safety hazard. This is exponentially dangerous if the cord under the rug is old or faulty.
Space Heaters May Pose a Hazard
Space heaters are a very popular device used in homes that don’t have heating and cooling delivered to every room. The kind of space heater that uses super-heated coils poses the biggest fire hazard because the coils get incredibly hot. They can instantly set fire to bedding, carpets, curtains, and any other nearby combustible material.
To avoid electrical fires in your home, make sure you switch to the enclosed radiator type heater. They don’t have any exposed heating elements to catch things on fire. It’s still wise to make sure to keep these space heaters away from drapes, beds, furniture, and other burnable items.
Using the Wrong Light Bulbs Can Cause Fires
Light fixtures and lamps have a maximum allowable wattage for light bulbs. Using a higher watt bulb than the device allows is another common cause of electrical fires. To avoid these kinds of house fires simply check the light fixture or lamp for the recommended wattage and stick to that size bulb.
Preventing Electrical Fires in Your Home
The easiest way to prevent an electrical fire is to get your electrical system inspected. But, when it comes to your home’s electrical system, the only person who should be inspecting anything is a licensed electrician.
Many electricians will provide electric inspections or offer a maintenance plan.
Now That You Know What to Look for, Take Action
Knowing all the hidden dangers in your home that can cause an electrical fire is alarming. But it’s better to know what to look so you can take the proper steps to make sure you and your family are safe.
If you suspect your home has old or faulty wiring, or if you checked off any of the other home fire causes on our list, call an East-West Electric. Our electricians will be able to inspect your system and test for faulty appliances and wires.