In many of our past electrical safety articles we have talked about electrical fires. The reason we warn homeowners so frequently about the threat of an electrical fire is because of the danger it poses to your home and your family’s lives. Electrical fires can result from poorly managed electrical wires or equipment and result in huge damages and health hazards. It’s important that you have taken the necessary steps to avoid this.
What is an electrical fire?
Electrical fires are fires that start as a result of electrical wires that are hot, overloaded, or sparking. Electrical wires run throughout your home, next to hundreds of feet of wood. If a circuit is overloaded or damaged it can become extremely hot and product a spark. If your circuit breaker does not detect this and fails to shut it off quickly the wires can heat up the surrounding wood structure and start a fire. The biggest problem with these types of fires is their location. The fire has now started behind the wall, out of sight. By the time the smoke is visible through outlets or vents, significant damage can already be done. By the time you notice the fire, call the fire department and they arrive to extinguish the fire, there will already by substantial damage to your home. This situation can be even worse at night while you and your family is sleeping. The fire can creep up on you and spread behind the walls before you notice. You may even find yourself in your home and unable to prevent the fire from overtaking the entire structure.
Common Causes of Electrical Fires
Some common causes of electrical fires are:
- Light fixture and bulb incompatibility – Some people will use high wattage light bulbs in fixtures that cannot handle it. This leads to high heat in the wires and the light fixture leading to melting, heat, and eventually fire.
- Old, faulty electrical appliances and equipment – This includes outlets, receptacles, refrigerators, microwaves, etc. This equipment has been in use for so many years that the wires have become frayed and exposed.
- Improper use of extension cords – If you are running old extension cords under or around carpets and furniture or if you are chaining electrical cords. Electrical cords are not meant to permanently hold electrical appliances. Read our article about extension cord safety.
How can I prevent electrical fires?
To prevent electrical fires ensure that your electrical circuit panel is properly organized and up to date. If your electrical panel is old and not properly organized, it will not detect overloads and do its job of protecting your home. We recommend having your home inspected every 10 years. Some problems you will not be able to identify on your own. Our electricians will be able to identify areas that need to be upgraded and brought up to code. There are some precautions that you can take on your own. Check on your appliances, electrical equipment, and extension cords to ensure they are not frayed or have exposed wiring. If you notice that one of your electrical devices is very old, it may be time to repair it. If you are not sure contact your local Expert Electric.
To schedule a home inspection or receive more information about keeping your home safe from electrical fires, contact Expert Electric at 604-681-8338. We are your neighbourhood’s electricians committed to keeping you safe.