4 Hidden Electrical Dangers That May Be In Your HomeHome electrical fires account for over 5,000 fires in the US each year. The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that electrical fires cause more than 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and over a billion dollars in property damage.
Older homes are particularly at risk. Because over half of the homes in the United States were built before 1973, this is a real concern.
To ensure your home is meeting the current electrical code in your area, call a Clover Electric electrician. He'll help identify the common culprits of electrical fires that may be hidden in your home’s electrical system.
Some of these dangers include:
Knob and Tube WiringThis type of wiring was used from the 1800’s to the 1930’s in homes. Wires are run through ceramic tubes and connected to knobs to prevent contact with wood framing. However, this type of wiring is now considered a fire hazard because it is not a grounded system. If your home has knob and tube wiring, it is highly recommended that you have your home re-wired.
Arc FaultsWhen any electricity is unintentionally released from home wiring or cords, it is known as an arc fault. Arc faults can be especially dangerous because the electricity released can cause the surrounding material to catch fire.
Common causes of arc faults:
- Pinched wires – From a chair sitting on an extension cord or wires bent sharply
- Overheated wires or cords – Too many lights or appliances connected to one circuit (your fuse box or circuit breaker should trip)
- Improper electrical connections – Loose connections in an electrical light switch or outlet
- Pierced wires – Nails and screws can sometimes pierce wiring hidden behind walls
- Damaged wires or cords – Caused by rodents, age and heat
No Ground Fault Circuit InterruptersAny electrical outlets that could come into contact with water should have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) installed. These outlets improve safety by constantly monitoring the flow of electricity in and out of the circuit.
If the returning current differs even a small amount (like from coming in contact with water), the GFCI will shut of the electric current. This helps prevent deadly electric shocks and electrocution.
For maximum safety install GFCIs in bathrooms, the kitchen, laundry room, outside and anywhere else an outlet could come in contact with water.
Aluminum WiringAnother risk in older homes is aluminum wiring. A national survey conducted by Franklin Research Institute showed that homes built before 1972, and wired with aluminum, are 55 times more likely to have one or more wire connections at outlets reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than homes wired with copper.
A shortage of copper in the mid 1960s caused builders to increase the use of aluminum wire in residential electrical distribution systems from the few large-power circuits (i.e., for electric clothes dryers and ranges), to general purpose 15- and 20-amp-rated circuits. Homes built before 1965 are unlikely to have aluminum branch circuit wiring.
Unfortunately, failing aluminum-wired connections seldom provide easily detected warning signs. Aluminum-wired connections and splices have been reported to fail and overheat without any prior indications or problems.
Aluminum wiring can be replaced or repaired to effectively and permanently reduce the possibility of fire and injury due to failing (overheating) wire connections and splices. This should always be done by a licensed electrician.