Five Common Causes of Electrical Fires

Five Common Causes of Electrical Fires

how to prevent electrical fires

Photo: Jeffrey, Flickr Creative Commons

It can be easy to forget that the technology we rely on each day — our televisions, coffee makers, and even our lightbulbs — can be a source of danger. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were an estimated 47,700 home structure fires in 2011 that were directly related to an electrical failure or malfunction. You can read the full report here, but the takeaway is that electrical fires are far from uncommon.

As the Bucks County electricians many families rely on for electrical maintenance year after year, we thought we’d share five common causes of electrical fires. Keep these in mind to keep your home as safe as possible:

1. Old, outdated appliances. Older appliances not only tend to use more electricity; they don’t use it as safely. Most electrical fires stem from technology that’s no longer up to par, with worn or frayed cords that transfer heat to combustible surfaces such as curtains, rugs, and floors.

2. Lighting fixtures. We can’t do without lighting, but we can — and should — do without light bulbs whose wattage is too high for the lamps and light fixtures in which they’re installed. Be sure to check the recommended bulb wattage on any lighting fixture in your home and avoid exceeding this number.

3. Extension Cords. These should never be a long-term arrangement, but many homeowners use them that way. The problem is that cords can become damaged through overuse, creating electrical fire risk. If there aren’t enough outlets in your home, or your existing outlets aren’t the appropriate type for your appliances, that’s a job for an electrician.

4. Old wiring. Homes more than two decades old may not be wired for the higher level of electricity the average family uses today. With air conditioners, washers, dryers, fridges, and flatscreen TVs sucking juice from outdated wiring systems, the risk of electrical malfunction — and fire — increases. Owners of older homes should ensure that their wiring can handle their average monthly energy usage.

5. Space heaters. These can be convenient, until homeowners place them too close to curtains, bedding, chairs, couches, rugs, clothing, etc. Especially with coil space heaters, the risk is that the device becomes so hot they will almost instantly ignite any flammable surface with which they come into contact. Always use radiator-type space heaters that better diffuse heat.

Don’t forget this additional tip: Never run cords under rugs, or use a three-prong appliance in a two-prong outlet.

Worried about your home’s electrical safety? Wes Carver Electric provides excellent safety inspections and general wiring services. The safety of our work is always our top priority!

Thanks for keeping up with us! If you liked this post, be sure to check out our update on equipping your home with a backup generator.