Electrical Fires: What Causes Them and How Do You Prevent Them?
In the United States, there are an estimated 51,000 electrical fires each year. These fires result in $1.3 billion in damage and 1,400 injuries to people inside the property. Electrical fires are very dangerous, and you should take fire prevention seriously.
Fortunately, electrical fires don’t happen overnight, and apparent signs will show leading up to the fire. This article will cover the common reasons for an electrical fire starting and how you can prevent an electrical fire from happening.
What is Considered an Electrical Fire?
Before going into what causes an electrical fire, we need to learn the definition. An electrical fire is caused by a malfunction or failure of electrical components in an electrical system. These fires can originate in the components of electrical equipment or machinery.
These fires will typically begin with a burning smell while the electrical components reach extreme temperatures. The fire starts as the electrical wiring, cables, circuit breakers, or components reach their breaking point.
One of the most common locations for an electrical fire in a home is the electrical panel. An electrical panel receives the main power supply from the utility company. Once an electrical panel breaks down, the connections can arc and cause a fire.
If there is an electrical fire in a home, the first step is to turn off the power in the home and call an emergency electrician. However, this can be difficult if the fire spreads, so the best option is to call emergency services to put out the fire.
The 4 Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires
If you want to prevent electrical fires, you will need to learn the most common causes of a fire starting from an electrical system. Understanding the common causes and taking preventative measures can be the difference between having an electrical fire and having a safe home.
Old Electrical Equipment or Appliances
When homeowners experience an electrical fire, the most likely cause is their electrical system is past its recommended lifespan. As time goes on, electrical systems and wiring begin to degrade until they are unsafe.
Additionally, older appliances lack the safety measures of modern appliances and are also culprits for electrical fires. By hiring an electrician for a safety inspection, they can spot any outdated electrical components that need a replacement.
Overloaded Electrical Wiring or Outlets
Electrical wiring is only rated to handle a maximum voltage level on a single circuit. If you exceed that voltage and the circuit is overloaded, there is a high risk of an electrical fire starting in the home.
Overloading a circuit will result in the wire getting extremely hot, and in some cases, it will combust into flames. If your home does not meet your electrical usage requirements, an electrician can add new circuits for a home.
There are two ways light fixtures can cause electrical fires in your home. The first way they can cause a fire is by overloading with a light bulb not rated for the fixture. Going above the recommended wattage amount could spark a fire.
The other way a light fixture can cause a fire is indirectly through contact with a cloth or a lampshade. Some light bulbs get very hot, which can heat flammable materials enough to start a fire.
We all like to keep our homes warm with portable space heaters when winter comes around. Unfortunately, these space heaters also are hazardous if you don’t follow proper safety precautions.
Avoid leaving space heaters unattended and away from any materials that could get caught inside them. The inside of the heaters gets very warm, taking only a few seconds to ignite cloth or paper.
How Do You Prevent Electrical Fires?
To avoid having an electrical fire scare in your home, you should take preventative measures. There are a few key things that you can do to reduce the risk of having an electrical fire to almost zero.
The first thing that you should do is call an electrician to perform an in-depth safety inspection for your home. An experienced electrician can spot even the most minor details that could pose a risk of an electrical fire in a home.
Updating your electrical system if your home is older than 20 years old is also a wise choice to handle the requirements of modern appliances. Consider rewiring your home and upgrading the electrical panel for added safety.
As a homeowner or property owner, electrical fires can pose a real threat to your livelihood. They devastate thousands of homes each year, but they are preventable if you maintain your electrical system properly.
If you want to ensure the safety of your electrical system, schedule a safety inspection with a qualified electrician today. You can learn quickly if your home is at risk of experiencing an electrical fire, giving you peace of mind.